There are more ways to consume cannabis than smoking. More and more cannabis consumers are trying edibles, vaping and other intake methods. Tinctures have become very popular as well, but what are they exactly and is there a cannabis tincture recipe for at-home use?

Read further as breakdown what a tincture is along with the different types and the most effective ways of making one!




What Is A Tincture?

A tincture delivers cannabis without the need for the combustion of smoking. Tinctures are potent liquids of concentrated cannabinoids.

The highly-concentrated tinctures are taken in small doses. Most have a very thick liquid consistency and the bottles come with a dropper to ensure a very small, measured dose.

Most people take tinctures under the tongue (sublingually). For example, the first FDA-approved epilepsy drug, Epidiolex, is a concentrated CBD tincture patients take sublingually.

Non-cannabis medicines are also taken sublingually. For example, the FDA’s new opioid Dsuvia was designed for crisis situations; it is taken under the tongue to be fast-acting for pain relief.

Research has shown that sublingual administration is more effective than other oral dosing like liquid or pill form. This is because it delivers the substance faster and more consistently.

Lots of people also mix tinctures into beverages like coffee or tea or foods like soups. Most people like them because they are easy to dose and easy to take.


How To Produce A Cannabis Tincture

There are several different methods of producing a tincture. All of them involve an extraction process to get the cannabinoid (CBD, THC or others) out of the plant. The 3 most common extraction methods are:

  • alcohol-based (usually ethanol)
  • gas extraction (butane)
  • carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction

The end result is a concentrated liquid that is used in tinctures, as well as other concentrated cannabis products like vaping liquids and creams.


Comparing The Different Methods

Perhaps the oldest method of making any plant-based tincture is the alcohol method. The cannabis flower is brewed in a high-proof grain alcohol like ethanol.

Over time, the cannabinoids (or isolates) stew and infuse into the neutral alcohol. When the alcohol is eventually boiled off, what remains is a highly concentrated bevy of cannabinoids.

CO2 and butane extraction work in much the same way, except that the neutral substance is a gas rather than a liquid like ethanol. But the infusion works the same way.

Tincture producers often add complementary ingredients to the tincture. Think orange or citrus oils to improve the taste. Even coconut oil and other substances are used because they act as a carrier to dilute the tincture to help carry it into the body after. 




The Different Types of Tinctures Explained

The 3 most common types of carriers used in cannabis tinctures are alcohol, vegetable glycerin or a form of oil. Each has its pros and cons. 

In all of these cases, the cannabinoids bind to the carrier to help deliver it to the body. It is important to know the type of liquid that is used in your tincture.


1. Alcohol-based cannabis tinctures

Let’s remember that marijuana wasn’t always illegal in the U.S. It regularly lined pharmacy shelves and many of those bottles were tinctures.

Alcohol has been used as a carrier for over 100 years. Alcohol is used for extraction and then also mixed back into the concentrate to create the tincture.

The downside is that this mixture usually has a bad taste, so it is not uncommon for the producer to mix honey or a sweet liquid in to mask the sharp taste.

The other issue is that if you want to avoid alcohol, this is probably not the tincture for you. Nor is it the tincture for you if you live in California. When recreational marijuana use was legalized in the state, these tinctures were no longer legal.

However, there are pros to alcohol-based tinctures, including their fast absorption and generally longer shelf life, given the alcohol wards off any bacteria.

2. Vegetable glycerin cannabis tinctures

Tinctures made with vegetable glycerin  (VG) are increasingly popular. VG is clear and odorless and frequently used in vaping liquids.

From a chemical perspective, VG is a triglyceride so it can carry the tincture across the cell membranes when placed under the tongue.

Tinctures can even be made by soaking them in VG as the extraction method. Much like alcohol, VG is then added back into the concentrate to make the tincture. VG is tasteless, so these tinctures are usually more palatable.

It does have a shorter shelf life than alcohol-based products, and it can’t hold as many phytocannabinoids. So, consumers usually need more of the product to get the desired effect.

Sourcing of VG has become an issue since these products are not regulated by the FDA. Be sure to choose a product that advertises its sourcing methods.

3. Oil cannabis tinctures

Tinctures created with carrier oils like medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oils, olive oils and others are growing in popularity.

MCT oils (coconut, palm and others) and olive oils are saturated fatty acids and fat-soluble. The body metabolizes them quickly in the liver, so that leads to a fast-acting delivery method for the tincture.

The oils also lead to more even absorption, and they have a neutral taste to boot. The only negative is that the oils have questionable sourcing, just like the VG.

Olive oil can be used to extract cannabis, but it cannot be evaporated off, so tinctures can be made but they cannot be concentrated so you need more to reach the desired effect.

This is ideal in that you get the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes, so the benefits of the whole-plant extract are in the mixture.

The olive oil method is very easy and cost-effective, though, so it is ideal for home use if you want to try your hand at making your own.


3 Cannabis Tincture Recipes For Your Use 

With these in mind, are you now ready to take the plunge and devote some time to making cannabis tinctures at home? 

If you are, follow this cannabis tincture recipe where you use everclear alcohol, vegetable glycerine, olive oil or MCT oil.

Or follow these 2 recipes, where you can choose between a recipe for CBD isolate tincture or a full Spectrum CBD tincture using dry cannabis flower. 

As you can see, CBD tinctures are an excellent entry point for both recreational and medical cannabis users looking to avoid smoking, experience strong effects or for those that just want to branch out and try something new. 

Now get into the kitchen and have fun trying these recipes out!


All images from Shutterstock

I'm a writer and editor for Herb Approach News, dedicated to providing insight about everything in the new, emerging cannabis space. How exciting it is! Before focusing on cannabis, I spent several years freelancing, and before that, I spent a handful of years finishing my Masters Degree in Publishing and Creative Writing.