4/20 is a significant date in the cannabis calendar and you might well notice stores around the U.S. upping their supplies in preparation. A lot more people smoke, vape, dab and eat cannabis on this date than any other. It’s become something of an unofficial national holiday for many people around the world.
What you may not know is that cannabis stores tend to have sales to get rid of their excess stock afterwards, so you can pick up some pretty good bargains if you’re in the right place at the right time. On sale, you all also find a variety of cannabis tinctures.
You might be a cannabis lover who grows their own plants. Harvest time can be a brilliant time and set you up for the next couple of months. But what do you do with all that extra leaf or offcuts? The good news is there are plenty of different products you can make in the home including tinctures. It’s one of the simplest methods of making an ingestible product that lasts for a long time and is easy to administer, which makes it a particularly popular choice among medical cannabis users.
Here we take a closer look at what a tincture is and how you can easily make it at home.
What is a Cannabis Tincture?
A tincture is quite a common way of getting extracts out of plants which can then be used for both recreational and medicinal purposes. You normally put them in a bottle with a dropper attached and you can then put a few drops on your tongue. Pop into a health food store and you’ll find a tincture practically every five feet.
The cannabis tincture has long been a method of using up spare leaf and it was one of the most popular methods of administering weed until everything started to get legalized in the U.S. That’s mainly because it’s easy to use but it’s also pretty simple to make. Known also as green dragon, tincture preparations are still used widely today and they are a pretty good starting point for newbies whether they’re interested in recreational or medicinal cannabis.
The great thing about a tincture is that it can be added to a lot of other things. You can put a few drops in your juice, add tincture to your ice cream, even put it in mash and gravy to spice things up. This is great if you take it for therapeutic reasons.
The Benefits of a Cannabis Tincture
- Because the tincture is usually added under the tongue, it quickly gets into your blood system and means you should experience the effects fairly quickly.
- With a small dropper, you are able to control the amount of cannabis that you ingest using a tincture.
- It’s a pretty discreet way of taking cannabis, particularly if you do so for medical purposes.
- A tincture is fairly safe and the bottle can be stored for a relatively long period.
- Making a tincture is less hazardous than some other methods of creating cannabis products and can easily be done at home.
How Do You Make a Cannabis Tincture?
For those who don’t want to mess around with complicated cooking or preparation techniques such as cannabutter, a tincture is the perfect option to go for. Practically all the equipment you need is a sealable jar, your cannabis offcuts, a straining implement and some alcohol.
- The first step is to decarboxylate your leaf or bud to release the THC. This involves grinding up your weed and putting it on some parchment paper, then placing it in the oven at around 220 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes.
- Next, once cooled, put your leaf in a mason jar with a sealable lid and add a good quality alcohol. Ethanol is a popular choice, something with an alcohol level of between 25-60%. Many people go for a brand like Everclear because it’s readily available.
- The next thing you need to do is seal the jar and leave it for a couple of weeks, shaking once a day to agitate the leaf. During this time the alcohol will break down the plant material and release components such as THC, CBD and terpenes.
- After the two weeks is up, you should filter the mix through something like a coffee filter to get your finished tincture. Swap this into a bottle with a sealable dropper and you are ready to go.
Some people have used alternatives such as glycerol and vinegar to make a tincture. While okay, they are not as effective. The alcohol breaks down the basic contents and acids contained in the bud or leaf and, if you follow the recipe steps, you should end up with all the good stuff in your tincture bottle at the end.
How to Take a Cannabis Tincture
Cannabis tincture is taken sublingually, which is the scientific word for ‘under the tongue’. Fill your dropper and open your mouth, lift your tongue and place a few drops there. The area under your tongue is full of blood vessels and the tincture should be quickly absorbed if you hold it there for a while. If you don’t like this method, you can always add the tincture to your food or even glass of water to make it more palatable. Ingesting should take longer this way so don’t make the mistake of thinking nothing is happening and taking more.
If you are taking your cannabis tincture sublingually, expect it to be about 15 minutes before you notice any effect. You should reach the peak level for being high (if your cannabis is THC dominant) at around an hour and a half. If you have put it in edibles, give at least a few hours before you take any more.
The great thing with cannabis tincture is that you can use it in a variety of ways. Yes, you can do the traditional under the tongue approach but you can also add it to soups, salad dressings and teas. Just a few drops are all it takes and it’s really great if you use cannabis for medical purposes.
The trick with any tincture is to try not to swallow. What you’re trying to do here is let the tincture sit on the underside of your tongue and get absorbed into the many blood vessels there. If you swallow, it decreases the effect, so the longer you can hold it the better.
If it’s your first time or you have a new bottle of tincture, you’ll not be completely sure of how strong it is. We advise starting with one small drop and then leaving it for an hour or so to see what effect you get. You can always increase the dose later if it’s not enough.
CBD Tincture and Medical Use
One of the most popular reasons for making a tincture is to use cannabis as a therapeutic tool. Soaking in alcohol can help release cannabinoids such as CBD which is used to treat a wide variety of conditions from poor appetite and nausea to insomnia, pain, anxiety and depression. Of course, everything depends on the particular strain that you are turning into a tincture. The ease of dosing and control over its effects are also factors that make this a suitable method for medical use.
Does a Tincture Cause Side-Effects?
Side effects are a perennial talking point in a few serious cannabis circles. If you’ve made your tincture properly you are likely to get similar effects to what you would if you were smoking or vaping. In other words, if you are making a THC tincture it should get you high and if you are looking at a CBD strain, it should hopefully solve your health problem.
Taking cannabis can stop other drugs from working properly, particularly CBD which decreases the ability of the liver to deal with certain chemicals. If you are taking another medication, for example, because you have heart condition, you might want to check that a CBD tincture isn’t interfering and likely to put you in harm’s way.
Is a Tincture Best For You?
This question normally applies to medical cannabis users who might not be interested in smoking or vaping. You can carry your bottle of tincture around with you and it’s fairly discreet. A few drops under the tongue should have the appropriate effect and it’s not that difficult to make, taking just a few days.
If you prefer traditional ways of administering cannabis, a tincture might be the perfect solution for any extra bud or off cut leaves that you have hanging around. A cannabis tincture is useful if you have nothing else in the house and want to relax yourself.
They’re also good for social situations where no one is smoking. You can nip away and discreetly have a few drops in the restroom rather than shocking everyone by lighting up a huge blunt in polite company.