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Cannabis Tinctures: How to Make, Dose, Use, & Select?

Nicole Flanigan

Written by: Nicole Flanigan

Updated on December 29, 2023

Cannabis Tinctures: How to Make, Dose, Use, & Select

Cannabis has a long history in the US and the wider world, dating back perhaps tens of thousands of years. For much of that history, it has been smoked. However, that’s far from the only way to take advantage of this plant’s many benefits. Edibles are always options, but did you know that you can also make use of cannabis tinctures? Not sure what a cannabis tincture might be, how to use one, or why you might benefit? This guide will help.

What Is Cannabis Tincture?

What is a cannabis tincture? Tinctures are liquids and if they’re made with cannabis, then they have cannabinoids infused within them. The liquid in this case is alcohol infused with cannabis extract. The infusion process is what creates a tincture and allows you to take advantage of the benefits offered by THC and other cannabinoids.

How does a cannabis tincture differ from cannabis oil? You’ll find quite a few differences. Here are some of the most pertinent:

  • The THC and other cannabinoids are infused directly into the liquid (alcohol) and are not suspended in a carrier oil.
  • Cannabis tinctures often have a bitter taste. Cannabis oils have varying flavor profiles depending on the carrier oil used.
  • Cannabis tinctures contain high-proof alcohol, so if you’re avoiding alcohol, this is not the right option for you.

However, there are plenty of similarities between weed tincture and cannabis oil. One of those is that both can be easily added to foods and beverages. Another is that it’s easier to accurately dose with tinctures and oils than with other products, such as edibles.

Cannabis Tincture vs. Edibles

Why choose a pot tincture over an edible? How are these products different? We’ve already established that a marijuana tincture is made from alcohol and weed, with no other ingredients. On the other hand, edibles are usually made with multiple ingredients depending on the type of edible in question. Brownies, cookies, and other baked goods include flour, sugar, butter, and other flavorings, for example.

Another difference between cannabis tinctures and edibles is that it’s much easier to dose yourself accurately with a tincture. Because they can be up to 80% pure, you just need to place a few drops under your tongue, and you’ll know exactly what the effects will be. Edibles are usually chancy – you could get a super-potent cookie or a dud.

In the end, all three options (tinctures, oils, and edibles) have their place. However, tinctures have important advantages. We’ll talk about those more in the next section.

Advantages of Cannabis Tinctures

You have a wide range of options available to you when it comes to consuming cannabis. Tinctures offer important benefits and advantages over your other choices, however.

Discrete

One of the most important benefits of a marijuana tincture over other dosage options is that it’s very discrete. A couple of drops under the tongue is all it takes to dose yourself. Compare that to the process involved with smoking, whether you prefer a joint, blunt, or one-hitter. It’s also more discrete than edibles as there’s no need to carry around food. Of course, oil is just as discrete.

Precise

Another benefit that we’ve touched on previously is the precision offered by cannabis tinctures. Anyone who’s ever tried edibles knows that potency can vary dramatically between items even if they come from the same batch. With a THC tincture, you don’t need to worry about that because of the high purity and precise formulation. Every drop contains the same amount of THC and the same concentration of other cannabinoids. There’s never a worry about doses being too high or too low.

Easy to Carry

THC tinctures are usually stored in small bottles with droppers to make dosing simple and painless. You can easily slip these bottles into your pocket, purse, laptop bag, or luggage. Compare that to trying to transport other items like edibles or raw flower.

Speed

One of the downsides of edibles is that it can take a long time for the effects to hit. In some cases, you might wait for up to three hours! During that time, it’s tempting to think that you got a dud and eat more, potentially leading to a stronger high than what you really wanted. With cannabis tinctures, that’s not the case. You’ll usually start to notice the effects within about 30 minutes, which puts them right in the middle between smoking (which produces instant results) and edibles (which can take a long, long time).

Lifespan

Finally, you’ll find that your THC tincture has a much longer shelf life than other products. Marijuana edibles are usually only good for a few days unless you freeze them. And while frozen edibles technically last forever, their quality and potency degrade over time and with exposure to ice crystals (freezer burn). Oils will also degrade over just a couple of years, although that varies depending on which carrier oil was used. With tinctures, you get a much longer lifespan. In fact, they have the longest shelf life of any cannabis-related product on the market. With the right storage techniques, a tincture can last up to 10 years.

How to Make Your Own Cannabis Tinctures by Step Guide?

In many states, you can buy ready-made cannabis tinctures from licensed dispensaries. However, you may want to take direct control over your product by making it yourself. In that case, you’ll be happy to know that making tinctures is simple.

How to Make a THC Tincture at Home

Wondering how to make a cannabis tincture? It’s pretty straightforward. We’ve listed all the steps you’ll need below.

Step 1: Assemble the Ingredients

The first step in how to make a THC tincture is to gather your ingredients. You’ll need the following:

  • Up to ½-ounce of flower
  • Up to 12 ounces of high-proof alcohol
  • A large mason jar
  • Glass bottle with dropper
  • Filtering equipment (coffee filter or cheesecloth)
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper

Step 2: Decarboxylation

Because tincture-making doesn’t involve heat, you’ll need to decarboxylate your flower or the THC won’t be active. To do that, set your oven to about 230 degrees F. Next, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add your flower to the pan. Bake it for 30-45 minutes (no more than 60 minutes). Once done, you can grind it if you like (or leave the stems in place to get the benefit of cannabinoids and terpenes).

Step 3: Combining Cannabis and Base

Now add your base (the alcohol) to the mason jar. Mix in your cannabis. Note that you’ll 1/8-ounce of cannabis should be combined with about three ounces of alcohol for a decent, mellow dose. If you want something stronger, you can either increase the amount of flower in the mix or decrease the amount of liquid. The potency of your tincture always depends on the ratio of flower to base.

Step 4: Store and Wait

Put a lid on your mixture and then set the mason jar in a cool, dark location. You’ll need to wait at least four weeks for the process to complete. The longer you steep it, the stronger your tincture will be. Make sure to shake or stir the jar’s contents at least once a day to ensure all parts of the flower get saturated.

Step 5: Strain

Once your cannabis has steeped as long as you want, it’s time to strain everything. A coffee filter works well, or you can use cheesecloth. Strain the entire contents into another mason jar and then store it in a cool, dark place with an airtight seal. You can dispense from this into your smaller bottle with the dropper for daily use.

Note: You have the option to use either alcohol or glycerin to make your tincture. Alcohol is the better choice (unless you abstain from alcohol) because it gets the THC into your bloodstream faster. However, you’ll need a very high-proof product, like Golden Grain or Everclear.

How to Dose Your Cannabis Tincture?

Wondering how to dose your cannabis tincture? We’ve got the information you need. However, remember that a lot of this depends on your personal tolerance. What’s right for one person may not be right for you.

Dosage Expected Effect
3 mg Low/microdose – little effect
7.5 mg Low dose for beginners or those sensitive to THC
15 mg Average dose/slight inebriated effects
30 mg Strong dose/moderate inebriated effects
60 mg Potent/therapeutic dose/strong inebriated effects

Not sure where to start? Our recommendation is to start with 7.5 mg unless you’re specifically interested in the benefits of microdosing. If 7.5 mg doesn’t produce noticeable results, step up to 15 mg. Keep stepping up until you find the right dose for you. And remember, you may want to change your dosage depending on the situation and your plans.

How to Use Cannabis Tinctures?

Wondering how to use a cannabis tincture? It’s not all that difficult, but for the sake of accuracy and to ensure that beginners get off on the right foot, we’ve broken it down into a few simple steps.

  1. If you purchased your THC tincture from a licensed dispensary, check the dosage instructions.
  2. Squeeze the dropper bulb to get the right amount of tincture.
  3. Drip the tincture under your tongue and let it sit for up to 30 seconds.
  4. Swallow the tincture and wait for the effects (usually no more than 30 minutes)

Your dose is highly individualized. It should be based on your tolerance level and your goals for the experience. For instance, if you’re looking for a little maintenance and mood-lifting, a microdose is probably the best option. You can usually take several of these throughout the day to maintain an overall sense of well-being.

If you’re new to using marijuana, it’s important to establish your tolerance early on. Going too strong can be a turn-off. Once you’ve determined this, you’ll be in a better position to determine your dosage. If you’re relatively experienced, half a dropper will give you moderate effects. A full dropper equates to 30 mg, which is considered a “strong” dose.

How to Select the Right Tinctures?

If you’re interested in buying ready-to-use tinctures rather than making your own, you’ll have access to a wide range of options. Knowing what each has to offer will ensure that you’re able to enjoy the experience you want and avoid those you don’t.

One option you’ll find is a 1:1 ratio tincture, which contains about the same amount of THC and CBD (and other cannabinoids and terpenes, of course). This is a great option if you’re interested in the psychoactive effects of THC but also want the benefits of CBD. Note that CBD is more effective when it’s taken in conjunction with THC.

Another option is the low THC and high CBD tincture. This gives you more of CBD’s effects and less of THC’s psychoactive effects. Opt for this type if you’re looking for more in the way of health and wellness than for the relaxing effects of THC.

We also need to touch on base types. For instance, you’ll find solvent and alcohol-based THC tinctures out there. Solvent-based tinctures offer faster absorption into the bloodstream, but there are fewer flavor options. You may also not be a fan of the solvents. Alcohol-based tinctures offer more flavor variety but are a little slower to absorb into the body and can have harsh flavors.

When it comes to flavors, pay attention to what’s being used to create specific flavor profiles. All the ingredients should be listed on the bottle’s label. Be aware that some synthetic flavors may produce unwanted effects if you have a sensitivity. Those can include headaches and other symptoms. Natural flavors are usually better for those sensitive to synthetics.

Are Tinctures Right for You?

Unsure if a cannabis tincture is right for you? You have a wide range of options from which to choose, but they’re not the same. Our recommendation is to test the waters with smaller purchases before committing to a larger one. For instance, you might want to try a sample tincture and edibles, compare their effects and duration, and then go from there. You might also want to compare oils to tinctures. They’re similar in some respects, but tinctures tend to be faster acting and don’t leave your mouth feeling oily. However, those avoiding alcohol will want to choose either a glycerin-based tincture or opt for an oil.

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Nicole Flanigan
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