Use of cannabis tinctures is on the rise, especially in places where marijuana is legal and they are widely available. The ability to have an easily dosed cannabis extract that can be swallowed or even absorbed sublingually (under the tongue) is a major reason many non-smokers prefer this ingestion method.
There are also a growing number of people who make a ‘tincture’ with glycerine and have been using this as both a soluble edible form or simply adding it to a vaporizer cartridge for some discreet vaping use.
Technically a tincture is a medicinal substance in an alcohol solvent, however it is very common to find products in the cannabis industry labelled as tinctures, which are in fact oil or glycerine based.
Tinctures can be made from just about any herb or medicinal plant. Vanilla extract for flavouring foods and iodine tinctures for cleaning and disinfecting wounds would probably be the two most common types of tinctures that you have seen outside of cannabis.
Concentrate and flower can both be used in the production of tinctures.
Concentrates are extracts from flower material in which the cannabinoids and desired products have already been separated from lesser desired material like plant fibre and chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll has its own benefits when ingested and many might want those components in a tincture which is why using flower material might be preferred. On the other hand, concentrate allows one to make a much more potent edible tincture, in which each drop has much more cannabinoid content with in.
Where you get your material is important. Any concentrate that has been made with poor lab technique or flower which has been sprayed with harmful pesticides should be avoided as these products will absolutely end up in your tincture and might cause unwanted, negative effects on your health.
A true cannabis tincture is made with a very high proof alcohol. Glycerine is a common replacement for alcohol. Both products can be used in a similar way.
Process using plant material:
Process using concentrate:
Aging is a fancy term for “let it sit.” Like wine or whiskey, there are many different aging times that you can find on the internet ranging from 25 hours to months or even years.
The general consensus is that the longer you allow your solution to age, the more potent it becomes as time allows more complete transfer of our desired cannabinoids out of the material and into our solution. However if you are using concentrate, as soon as the concentrate dissolves, you are ready to go.
As with all homemade products and without access to testing services, every new batch will likely have some variability in concentration and strength.
It is important to try smaller doses and to step up gradually to the correct dosage for your specific needs.
Well preserved and well made concentrate and flower must have a chemical reaction take place in order to work as an edible.
THC begins as THCa and, unless dealing with very old cannabis material that has degraded, the majority of the THC found in your material even when using concentrate will be in the acid from of THCa. Usually, when we put a flame to a joint or dab concentrate, the carboxyl group on THCa is immediately removed, the newly formed THC vaporizes and we inhale this vapor through a joint, or pipe.
When making tincture, or any other edible, the plant material or concentrate must undergo this reaction in a way that doesn’t damage or vaporize the resulting THC.
Following the decarboxylation steps in the guide above will ensure that the most amount of THC has been converted before beginning to make your tincture product, leaving the littlest amount of THCa behind.
Both alcohol tinctures and glycerine solutions can be used almost identically; taken orally or sublingually by itself, mixed into beverages, or even mixed into whatever you happen to be cooking.
Some people prefer using glycerine over alcohol for a variety of reasons; it is sweeter than pure alcohol, it can be used to make vape cartridges, recovering alcoholics trying to abstain, the list goes on.
If your cannabis material being used to create the tincture or solution is a form of concentrate, using alcohol means that you could later evaporate the alcohol from the tincture and reclaim a smokable concentrate. On the other hand, a glycerine tincture cannot be reduced back into a smokable concentrate. However, some use it as “vape juice” for use in electronic smoking cartridges.
Tinctures made from flower, trim, shake or buds, are poor choices for vaporization. Neither is it a great idea to smoke the concentrate resulting from evaporating the ethanol, if using flower, trim, shake or buds. This is because of the chlorophyll that will be present, which creates a very unpleasant smoking experience.
As with all homemade products there can be wide variations from batch to batch. So, although it is medically impossible to overdose on cannabis, you should begin by starting low and slow with each new batch.
Start with just a few drops of tincture and be sure to wait 60 – 90 minutes to see how it affects you before re-dosing. After dialling in your dosage you can reliably use the exact amount you need to get your desired effects for the rest of this batch.
Tinctures carry many benefits. Aside from being a conveniently transportable product, it also is repeatably dose-able, low in calories, and able to be used in multiple routes of administration (e.g. sublingually, vaporized in the case of glycerine tinctures, swallowed by itself, or added to whatever you happen to be cooking or drinking!).
Tinctures are also remarkably stable, when sealed and stored in a dark cool place (refrigerator or even just your pantry) they can be stable up to a year and even longer!