How to Make a Cannabis Tincture

We may be living in a golden age of cannabis medicine, but infused tinctures have always been a staple in the patient community, and they’re one of America’s oldest medicines. Before cannabis was prohibited in the 1930s, potent tinctures could be found on pharmacy shelves all across the United States.

While you’ll find a wide selection of expertly made tinctures at any of our dispensaries, it’s an easy product to make at home and if you’ve ever wondered how, then you’re in the right place. Learn the benefits, how to choose the right strains for you, step-by-step recipes, and more.

What is Cannabis Tincture?

Cannabis tinctures contain cannabinoids, such as THC or CBD, in a base liquid of alcohol, oil, or glycerin. They are typically packaged in a small glass bottle with a dropper for easy and consistent dosing. Tinctures can be taken sublingually (under the tongue) or used to infuse edibles.

When swallowed, the effects from a tincture can feel stronger than if you had been smoking or vaping, as the THC or CBD will be processed in the liver. Like other forms of edible cannabis, tinctures may take a bit longer before you feel any effects. In some cases, up to 90 minutes. However, you can reduce this delay by taking a few drops of it sublingually. Use the dropper to place your dose under your tongue and hold the tincture there for at least 60 seconds. Since the blood vessels there will readily absorb the cannabinoids, you may feel the effects within 30 minutes or less.

Whether you ingest or place your tincture under your tongue, we advise you to wait at least 90 minutes before taking another dose. While ingesting more cannabis than you planned is very rarely dangerous, it can be unpleasant—and that’s something we want to help you avoid!

Choosing a Strain For Your Cannabis Tincture

First things first: You can’t go wrong here. All cannabis strains will work to make a potent tincture. The real question is: What effects are you going for?

The two major classifications of cannabis are known as sativa and indica. While these terms may be outdated, we find they’re a useful way to help our customers understand the effects different strains of cannabis impart. Sativas are often described as uplifting and energizing, delivering a subtle cerebral stimulation. Indicas, on the other hand, are typically categorized as heavy and relaxing and usually produce a body-centered high. Choose which effect you’re looking for and go from there.

But while these guidelines are helpful, it’s important to understand a given strain’s full cannabinoid content. Since THC is the cannabinoid known for providing the cannabis plant’s psychoactive “high,” along with other important effects, strains with a higher percentage of THC may provide a subjectively stronger experience. Non-psychoactive, CBD may impart—at most—a gentle cerebral “buzz” as well as some beneficial effects, which may include helping fight anxiety and finding deeper rest, as well as possibly reducing inflammation and associated discomfort.

How to Decarboxylate Cannabis for Tincture

Once you’ve chosen a strain to infuse, you’re going to need to decarboxylate (or “decarb”) your cannabis, which is the process of applying gentle heat to convert the inactive THCA cannabinoid in cannabis flower into its active form of THC.

The simplest way to do this is typically with an oven or toaster oven.

  1. Start by preheating your oven anywhere from 220°F – 230°F. If you have an oven-safe thermometer, now’s the time to use it. The internal thermostats in ovens typically aren’t very accurate
  2. Roughly grind your cannabis—we recommend at least enough to fill half of an eight-ounce Mason jar (roughly half an ounce)
  3. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  4. Place your ground cannabis flower on the cookie sheet
  5. Once the oven’s up to temperature, place in the cookie sheet
  6. Let bake for 30 minutes to fully decarboxylate the cannabis
  7. Take out the flower, let it cool, and inspect it. It should look lightly toasted and dry

That’s it! You’ve decarbed your cannabis, and now you’re ready to use it to make oil or alcohol-based tinctures.

How to Make Green Dragon Tincture with Grain Alcohol: Step-by-Step

The classic form of cannabis tincture, a “green dragon tincture” is shelf-stable, potent, and easy to absorb.

Making it couldn’t be easier:

  1. Place your decarboxylated cannabis inside an eight-ounce Mason jar, filling it about a quarter or halfway
  2. Add enough high-proof alcohol to cover the cannabis—vodka will work in this case, although many people prefer the neutral potency of Everclear or similar grain alcohol
  3. Store the Mason jar in a dark closet or other lightless environment for at least three weeks. Most sources recommend shaking the jar once a day, though the process of extraction is more chemical than mechanical
  4. Strain out the flower—no need to press it; this will add chlorophyll but not THC—and violà! You’ve made a green dragon tincture

How to Make Cannabis Tincture in a Crock Pot: Oil Infusion

This style of tincture is ideal for those who want to avoid any alcohol intake whatsoever.

  1. Take your measured portion of decarbed flower, add a cup of neutral oil or MCT—that’s short for “medium-chain triglyceride,” a nutritional product typically made from coconut oil—and place them in a crock pot or similar slow cooker
  2. Set the heat to “low” and allow the mixture to simmer for at least 2 hours and up to 6 total
  3. Strain it through a cheesecloth into a jar and use or store

Alternatively, you can cook the flower and oil mixture on a stovetop. However, be aware that a long, low-temperature process tends to produce superior results.

How to Make a Cannabis Tincture: Alternate Methods

There are many ways to make cannabis tincture. One popular choice of carrier liquid is food-grade glycerin, also known as “glycerol” or “glycerine.” A clear liquid typically made from soybean, coconut, or palm oils, glycerin is odorless and has a mild, sweet taste with a syrup-like consistency.

If using glycerin, you’ll want to choose the “green dragon tincture” process outlined above since glycerine is a gentle solvent that extracts the active cannabinoids and terpenes without the use of heat.

How to Store, Test, and Dose Your Cannabis Tincture

A well-made cannabis tincture should last for many months, so long as you take some basic precautions. As with all cannabis products, light and heat are the enemies of freshness and potency. Store your tincture in a dark glass container in a cool, dark place or, better yet, your refrigerator. You can even freeze cannabis tincture, though repeatedly thawing oil-based tinctures can be time-consuming.

Want to know how potent your cannabis tincture is? While home testing kits are available, you can figure it out through a bit of math. If you measured the weight of the flower you used and know its cannabinoid content from the label, you can run it through a calculation for dosing.

For example, let’s say you used a full ounce (or 28 grams) of cannabis at 20% THC and 375 ml of alcohol, oil, or glycerine. To find the number of milligrams of THC in your tincture, multiply the weight of the cannabis by its THC content. For this tincture: 28g x 20% = 5.6 g (or 5,600 mg) of total THC.

A standard dropper contains 1 ml. Assuming you used 375 ml of carrier liquid, divide the total milligrams of THC (5,600 mg) by 375 to get the total THC per 1ml dropper: 5,600/375 comes to around 14.93 mg/ml. This means that every dropper dose contains about 15 mg of THC.

But how much is the “right” dose? That’s a very personal question since everyone reacts to cannabis a bit differently. We suggest you begin with a small amount—about a quarter to half a dropperful at a time—and assess the results. It pays to go slow here; as a growing body of evidence suggests, the majority of people actually derive greater benefit from lower dosages of cannabis.

Shop the Best Cannabis Tinctures at Mission

Learning how to make your own cannabis tincture is a simple process, though it does require a little patience. Starting with the crucial step of decarboxylating your cannabis flower, you then have a choice between making an alcohol-based “green dragon tincture” or an oil-based infusion.

Assuming you’ve been careful and enabled a complete extraction, you’ll end up with a potent, shelf-stable tincture that will deliver many months of solid effects or provide any other benefits in which you turn to cannabis.

If you have other questions about how to make a cannabis tincture or any other cannabis-related topics, stop by any one of our locations and ask our friendly budtenders for more information—we’re here to help!