By Luke Sumpter

Everything you need to know about cannabis tinctures (recipe included).


Cannabis tinctures serve as a perfect entry point to the world of cannabis, especially if you aren't a fan of smoking or vaping. They also provide several unique benefits that set them apart from other cannabis concentrates.

Some cannabis-lovers may not have heard about tinctures before, but you can make a marijuana tincture with alcohol quite easily. That's right—with alcohol! Cannabis and alcohol may seem like complete opposites, but rest reassured, they work together brilliantly here.

What Is a Cannabis Tincture?

Technically speaking, cannabis tincture (or marijuana tincture) is an herbal extract made by binding the key components in cannabis with alcohol or glycerine. In simple terms, it's a cannabis-infused liquid you can consume directly, or in food and drink.

Tinctures present an alternative avenue for users interested in the effects of cannabis. They're discreet, convenient, straightforward to consume, and you can make them at home. Tinctures also tend to be a lot stronger than smoking a joint or using a vaporizer. In fact, for most people, a few drops of cannabis tincture is all they need at a time.

  • Cannabis Tincture vs Cannabis Oil and RSO

It's common for people to question the difference between cannabis tincture, cannabis oil, and Rick Simpson oil (RSO). After all, each is a concentrated cannabis liquid. However, there is a key difference between these extracts that you should know.

Cannabis oil and RSO both feature an oil base (typically olive oil). Oils bind well with cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBC, etc.), and olive oil provides a few nutritional benefits too. By comparison, cannabis tinctures use alcohol or glycerine (if alcohol isn't suitable) as a base.

  • Edible vs Topical

Although not as popular of a method, you can apply marijuana tinctures directly to skin. You won't feel the mental effects like you would if you consumed it orally, but cannabinoids have shown promise in supporting and soothing the skin. Edible or sublingual consumption, however, are far more common, and for most people will be the preferred ways to use cannabis tincture.

Whether you choose edible, sublingual, or topical application, know that there isn't a superior option. It's about balancing the effects with your specific needs.

What Is a Cannabis Tincture?
  • Alcohol vs Glycerine

We alluded to this earlier, but you can make cannabis tincture with either high-proof alcohol or food-grade glycerine. The former binds more easily with THC and other cannabinoids, but the obvious downside is that alcohol isn’t always suitable—for example if you need to dose frequently or you're at work.

The latter, glycerine, is a colourless, odourless, plant-based liquid used widely throughout the food industry. Although it's more versatile, the potency of glycerine tinctures isn't as high as alcohol variants. That being said, you can circumvent this issue by performing our step-by-step instructions (below) multiple times to improve the concentration of your glycerine tincture.

Again, the choice of alcohol or glycerine cannabis tincture comes down to personal preference and the ingredients you have to hand.

Does Cannabis Tincture Get You Drunk?

No. Several drops of tincture placed under the tongue, onto food, or into a beverage doesn’t contain enough ethanol to get you drunk.

Most traditional tincture recipes call for 80 proof alcohol (40% ABV)—the strength of the average bottle of vodka on store shelves. While this can easily get you feeling wavy while drinking, you’ll consume nowhere near a shot's worth when using a tincture in the correct way. Alcohol-based tinctures don’t taste great, but the substance works as an effective solvent that pulls non-water-soluble compounds, such as cannabinoids, from plant material.

  • Types of Alcohol

If you choose the alcohol tincture route, you must pick the right liquid for the job. While you can use options from your local supermarket (Bacardi rum, for example), the higher the proof, the stronger the infusion and the more potent each drop will be.

The best option for alcohol tinctures is food-grade ethyl alcohol (95%). You won't find it on the shelves of your local store, but there are plenty of reputable sellers online. Just remember, these solutions are not for mixing cocktails!

  • THC vs CBD

One of the greatest benefits of cannabis tincture is the ability to customise. You can infuse tinctures with any cannabis strain you can think of, which gives you infinite freedom to tweak the ratio of THC and CBD.

Bear in mind, though, that tinctures made from high-THC cannabis strains are going to be much stronger than smoking a joint or hitting a bong. A tincture can contain up to 60% THC, so don't underestimate their potency!

If you want a tincture focused on promoting overall well-being, consider a CBD-rich cannabis strain like Tatanka Pure CBD or Joanne's CBD.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the non-toxic, non-psychotropic cousin to THC, and it won't get you high. It does, however, have a reputation for supporting various mental and physical functions, while also mediating the intoxicating effects of THC. With that in mind, you can also choose a 1:1 CBD:THC strain to benefit from the influence of both cannabinoids.

THC vs CBD

How To Make Cannabis Tincture

The art and science of tincture-making spans back thousands of years. The Ancient Egyptians soaked herbs in alcohol. The Canon of Medicine—the works of the physician-philosopher Avicenna, completed in 1025 AD—also discusses herbal tinctures. As you can imagine, there are many ways to craft a tincture, and methods have changed over the centuries.

When it comes to the modern-day cannabis user, choice and flexibility reign supreme. We have access to a plethora of different strains with varying cannabinoid and terpene profiles, not to mention different methodologies that can guide our decisions. For example, we can leave our tinctures to soak over a long period for more potent results, or take shortcuts that slash the time it takes to secure a quality final product.

Below, we’ll guide you, step by step, through one of the easiest and fastest ways to create a cannabis tincture. Following these steps will render what’s known as a golden dragon tincture—a preparation that appears gold due to a lack of chlorophyll in the end product.

Traditional cannabis tinctures can take around one month before they’re ready for action. However, as a quick wash extraction technique (QWET), the golden dragon method bypasses months of waiting time; it simply takes 24 hours to adequately freeze your ingredients, followed by a 15-minute wash time. Discover the ingredients and equipment needed, as well as a recipe, below.

Ingredients

  • 5g cannabis flower of your choice
  • 60ml 190 proof (95% ABV) or 151 proof (75.5% ABV) grain alcohol

Equipment

  • 2 mason jars (70ml minimum)
  • Baking paper
  • Baking tray
  • Dropper bottles (1x 60ml or 2x 30ml)
  • Coffee filter and filter holder
  • Grinder
  • Measuring beaker

Instructions

Now you have everything you need to speed up the tincture-making process and create a potent golden dragon marijuana tincture in less than a day. Follow the four phases below, and you’ll have a filled dropper bottle in your hand in no time at all.

How To Make Cannabis Tincture

Phase 1: Decarboxylation

To begin, you need to decarboxylate your cannabis flowers. It might sound complex, but this process simply involves placing your bud in the oven at a set temperature for a specific period of time. Doing so converts cannabinoid acids such as THCA and CBDA into their corresponding cannabinoids; namely, THC and CBD. Follow these simple steps to decarb your bud:

  1. Preheat your oven to 110°C.
  2. Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper.
  3. Process your cannabis flowers with a herb grinder, coffee grinder, or sharp pair of scissors.
  4. Spread the processed herb evenly over the baking paper.
  5. Place in the oven for 40 minutes.
  6. Remove and let cool.
  7. Place the bud into a Mason jar and seal.

Phase 2: Freeze

Things are about to get cold. Place your bottle of alcohol and your Mason jar of weed into the freezer overnight. It seems simple, but this step will dramatically improve the quality and taste of your tincture, giving it the “golden dragon” status. Freezing your buds will make the trichomes more brittle and easier to dislodge during the next step. Doing so also helps to prevent chlorophyll from being drawn out by the solvent, which in turn prevents a green colouration and the harsh and bitter taste that chlorophyll brings.

Phase 3: Agitation

When the morning swings around, follow these steps to proceed:

  1. Remove the Mason jar and alcohol from the freezer.
  2. Use your beaker to measure out 60ml of alcohol.
  3. Pour the alcohol into the Mason jar containing your bud.
  4. Secure the lid, and shake gently for around one minute.
  5. Place the Mason jar back into the freezer for five minutes to ensure the trichomes stay brittle throughout the agitation phase.
  6. Remove the Mason jar from the freezer, and shake again for about a minute.
  7. Return the jar to the freezer for the same amount of time, then shake for the same amount of time, and place in the freezer for a final five minutes (a final freeze will ensure waxes, lipids, and chlorophyll remain frozen during filtration).
How To Make Cannabis Tincture

Phase 4: Filtration

You’re almost there! Follow these final steps to remove the impurities from your golden dragon marijuana tincture:

  1. Remove your Mason jar from the freezer.
  2. Line your coffee filter holder, and place it over your second Mason jar.
  3. Pour the tincture through the filter to remove plant material, waxes, lipids, and other impurities.
  4. Unscrew the cap to one 60ml dropper bottle or two 30ml bottles.
  5. Use the pipette to load your bottles.
  6. Store in a cool, dark place to prevent cannabinoid degradation.

Differences Between Green Dragon and Golden Dragon Tincture

The golden dragon method of tincture-making significantly reduces the time it takes to transform raw bud into a fast-acting and potent tincture. But it’s not the only method of creating tinctures quickly. The green dragon method starts off with the same ingredients, but uses heat instead of freezing temperatures to create more of a full-spectrum marijuana tincture. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each below.

  • Green Dragon

Green dragon tincture has a different appearance from its golden counterpart as the process results in a different phytochemical composition. The method involves simmering a jar of alcohol and cannabis in water for 20 minutes. This draws out cannabinoids, terpenes, lipids, waxes, and chlorophyll into the solvent.

Pros Cons
Creates more of a full-spectrum tincture Harsher taste
Quick process Less aesthetically pleasing
No freezing required -
  • Golden Dragon

In contrast, the golden dragon method capitalises on freezing temperatures to remove many of the additional phytochemicals. This results in more of a concentrated tincture with an improved taste.

Pros Cons
Less harsh taste Longer process than the green dragon method
Removes unwanted constituents Slightly less potent than traditional methods
Pleasant appearance -
Much quicker than traditional methods -

How to Store Cannabis Tincture

With your homemade cannabis tincture in hand, it's paramount to store it correctly. Not only will this help maintain the mixture's potency, but it'll ensure the infusion stays effective for months, maybe even years.

Exposure to air, UV rays, and excessive temperatures will all degrade the active components in your tincture, so keep your alcohol tincture sealed, away from direct sunlight, and in a cool, dry location. For most people, a kitchen or bathroom cupboard is ideal. If you've made a glycerine tincture, make sure it stays refrigerated to preserve the cannabinoids within.

How to Use a Cannabis Tincture

Using your cannabis tincture couldn't be simpler. In fact, the sheer convenience of infused tinctures is why they're so popular. All you have to do is place 1–3 drops under your tongue, hold for 30–60 seconds, then swallow any remaining liquid.

If you find the technique challenging to master, try doing it in front of a mirror first. Or, if you find the taste off-putting, drop the infusion directly onto food or into a glass of juice.

  • Should You Swallow Cannabis Tincture or Not?

If you want the maximum effect in the shortest time possible, you should administer cannabis tincture sublingually (under the tongue). Once you've held it there for at least 30 seconds, any remaining liquid is perfectly safe to swallow.

On the other hand, if swallowed immediately or taken with food, the effects won't kick in as quickly, but they’ll last longer, which is a nice trade-off depending on the situation.

  • What Are the Effects and How Long Do They Last?

A tincture made with a high-THC strain may induce feelings of euphoria, couch-lock, the munchies—just like it would if you took a hit of the same strain from a bong. But, unlike with a bong or pipe, the effect of a cannabis tincture lasts several hours. Provided you stagger your drops, it's entirely possible to feel the effects all day long.

Is Making Cannabis Tincture Worth the Effort?

Absolutely. If you want to shake things up a bit and change the way you take your cannabis, tinctures are an easy, cheap, and effective option. Many users create tinctures to open up the door to sublingual administration, but you can use them in all sorts of ways, such as adding them to tea, coffee, smoothies, and all manner of edibles. The total time it takes to create a golden dragon or green dragon tincture is well worth it for a potent bottle of cannabinoids and terpenes at the end of the process.

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