Cannabis tinctures are alcohol-based cannabis extracts—essentially, cannabis-infused alcohol. In fact, tinctures were the main form of cannabis medicine until the United States enacted cannabis prohibition. They’re a great entry point for both recreational and medical consumers looking to ease into smokeless consumption methods.
How to make cannabis tinctures
If you don’t have a full kitchen or just prefer simple, mess-free preparation techniques, cannabis tinctures are a great DIY project. You can make a tincture with a jar, alcohol, strainer, and cannabis. That’s all you need!
Using alcohol vs. glycerin for tinctures
When it comes to making tinctures, high-proof, food-grade alcohol is going to be your best friend. If you wish to avoid using alcohol, glycerin, a plant-based oil, is an acceptable replacement. However, glycerin is not as efficient at bonding to cannabis compounds and will produce a less potent tincture.
Some people try to make a more potent glycerin tincture by first using alcohol, carefully evaporating the (very flammable) alcohol off of the tincture, and then introducing glycerin afterward. You get the potency of the alcohol with the glycerin body. Considering the dangers associated with evaporating alcohol with a heat source, we at Leafly do not recommend this method.
Choosing the right type of alcohol for tinctures
The goal is to find a high-proof alcohol that is safe for consumption. The higher the alcohol content, the better it will dissolve cannabis resin. Everclear is my alcohol of choice when making a tincture, as it is both safe to consume and highly potent.
Products like isopropyl alcohol are not intended to be consumed and should never be used when making a tincture—save that for cleaning your pipes!
Making the tincture
To keep it simple, I like to use this ratio when making a tincture: For every ounce of cannabis flower, use one 750 mL bottle of alcohol (for an eighth of weed, that’s about 3 fluid oz).
This produces a mild effect, great for microdosing. If you want a more potent tincture, reduce the amount of alcohol by a third until you hit your desired potency.
- Step 1: Decarboxylate your cannabis flower or concentrate (if you’re using flower, grind it to a fine consistency).
- Step 2: Mix your flower or concentrate in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol (preferably Everclear).
- Step 3: Close the jar and let it sit for a few weeks, shaking it once a day.
- Step 4: After a few weeks, strain it through a coffee filter.
And if you don’t feel like waiting several weeks, you can even get away with shaking it for 3 minutes, straining, and storing.
How to dose and consume cannabis tinctures
It’s important to be consistent when making tinctures. If you make two batches at different strengths, a dose from each won’t be the same. Write down how much alcohol and cannabis you use for each batch so it can be replicated again if it was to your liking.
Once you’ve made the tincture, dosages are easy to self-titrate, or measure. Start with 1 mL of your finished tincture and put it under your tongue. If you’re happy with the effects, you’re done.
Otherwise, ramp up your dosage slowly to avoid getting uncomfortably high—try 2 mL the next day, and so on, until you find the dose you’re happy with.
According to The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook, cannabis tinctures will last for many years when stored in a cool, dark place. Their long shelf life means you can make large quantities of them in one sitting.
Compared to the traditional cannabis-infused brownie, tinctures are a low calorie alternative. If you make a tincture with 190 proof alcohol, you’re looking at about 7 calories per mL.
How to Make Edibles with Tinctures
Tinctures, like RSO, are another ready-to-consume cannabis product that has already had its THCA content converted to active THC. Tinctures are best used in edibles for candy making, drink infusion, and sauce or topping infusion. Tincture infusion is also the most simple edible infusion method there is – just add as many drops to your final recipe as you need for your desired strength!
Tincture can be added to your favorite drink or water, dripped onto a piece of gum for microdosing, added to a candy mix to make infused lollipops, hard candies, or gummies, or dripped into a condiment, like BBQ or caramel sauce.
Tinctures can even used in moderation in a mixed drink – but be aware that combining cannabis and alcohol results in a multiplied intoxicating effectiveness of both compounds, producing much stronger effects than alcohol or cannabis would on their own.
This should only be experimented with by experienced cannabis users with high tolerances, under safe conditions, and only in low doses to avoid negative side effects.
Experiment with using tinctures in your favorite pre-made food and drink items to find the combination that works best for your lifestyle.
We hope that this general guidance on all the different ways that you can infuse both whole-plant cannabis and its derivative products into your food have inspired you to get creative with your cannabis consumption options.
As a final reminder, new edibles experimentations should always be undertaken with caution and preparation to avoid overconsumption incidents. The Periodic edibles mantra of “Start Low, Go Slow” is vital to successful and enjoyable edible experiences – start with a low dose, and wait up to 2 hours before dosing further to observe the effects you experience. Consider keeping a journal to track your dosage and experiences so that you can better predict your future adventures and empower yourself with knowledge of your individual needs.
How to Make Edibles with RSO
One of the most well-known medicinal cannabis products is Rick Simpson Oil, often abbreviated to RSO. This very dark, thick, pungently flavored oil is often sold in syringes for topical application or sublingual absorption by placing under the tongue, and its use has been reported to have powerful effects on cancer cells. The extra-high levels of cannabinoids and terpenes also give RSO strong anti-inflammatory effects.
As such, infusing edibles with RSO may be the best option if you’re looking to create medical-grade edibles for use in supporting wellness or to assist in managing acute symptoms of illness.
Creating edibles with RSO is also quite easy, as the active compounds in RSO are fully activated, and do not require any further decarboxylation processing. In fact, it’s best not to apply any additional heat to RSO to avoid destroying all the beneficial compounds contained therein. The best uses for RSO in edibles are as additions to finished sauces, toppings, or in no-heat recipes when possible.
It should also be noted that similar to hash, RSO has a very strong, earthy, somewhat unpleasant flavor, so you’ll want to choose heavily flavored dishes with savory or umami notes to disguise the earthy flavor of the RSO – think mushroom dishes, hearty pasta sauces, balsamic salad dressings, garlic or spicy hummus, dark chocolate bars or desserts, or the like. To infuse a finishing cooking oil or other compliment with RSO, gently heat the infusion base until just warm enough to dissolve your preferred dose of RSO into it, mixing thoroughly to combine. You can then use the oil in low-heat recipes or as a topping.