Cannabis Tinctures 101: A Complete Guide to Tinctures

Cannabis tinctures in 3 glass bottles with cannabis leaves in the background

Tinctures are a century-old technique that has survived the test of time. Cannabis tinctures capture the distilled essence of the plant in a concentrated solution and can be an ideal alternative to inhalation. So let us get down to basics and discuss everything you need to know about tinctures.

What is a cannabis tincture?

Cannabis tinctures in dark glass bottle dried with cannabis flowers and cannabis leaves

A tincture refers to a concentrated herbal extract that has been dissolved in ethanol or glycerine-based solution. It is one of the most basic extraction forms designed for sublingual use, entering the system through mucous membranes.

A cannabis tincture is a concentrated extract which binds the compounds of the cannabis plant into a diluted solution. The plant compounds dissolve into a rich solution by soaking the flower in a base solution. The results will leave you with a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum tincture, but what is the difference? 

Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum– what is the difference?

Full-spectrum tinctures and terpenes on a black background, broad-spectrum tinctures and terpenes on a white background

Full-spectrum refers to products made with all the compounds found within the cannabis plant, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. It is a complete plant extract, whereas broad-spectrum removes the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol. Perfect for those looking for a tincture that will not incapacitate you or impact your day-to-day life.

What is the difference between cannabis tinctures and oils?

There is often confusion between cannabis tinctures and oils, so let us discuss their differences. Tinctures are made primarily with ethanol, whereas cannabis oils often use a base like olive or coconut oil, which binds exceptionally well with cannabinoids. When using fat as the binding molecule, we have what is known as an infusion, as is the case with cannabis oils. It is often more potent but has a much harsher taste than its ethanol-based counterpart.

The benefits of cannabis tinctures

Cannabis tinctures are one of the most efficient ways to consume cannabis. They may not be as trendy as other products, but this centuries-old technique offers many benefits. So let us discuss them in detail!

Pipette with cannabis tincture and a dark glass bottle with cannabis leaves in the background

1. The entourage effect with full-spectrum cannabis

Full-spectrum tinctures enable cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids to bind in a concentrated solution. This resulting synergy gives rise to the entourage effect, which provides a much more balanced effect with multiple benefits.

2. No allergens

Tinctures usually only contain essential cannabis compounds and the base. Subsequently, they can be more attractive than edibles if you have food allergies or intolerances. However, checking with your licensed medical practitioner before indulging is always recommended.  

3. A discrete administration method

It is not appropriate to smoke or vape cannabis everywhere. However, tinctures are the ultimate stealth solution. They come in a glass bottle with a dropper for discrete application. This means no odour or equipment that may draw unwanted attention from onlookers.

4. Easy dosing 

When it comes to cannabis, everyone has their own tolerance levels. Some require more, some less. With a cannabis tincture, you can gradually work your way up to your required dose and experience the desired effect each time. 

5. A fast-acting solution

When consumed sublingually, tinctures absorb through the mucosal lining inside the mouth. This means it often enters the bloodstream within minutes which is ideal for those looking for fast-acting relief.

How to use cannabis tinctures: drop, hold, and swallow

Using a cannabis tincture is exceptionally straightforward. Place the required amount of drops under your tongue, hold for 60 seconds, and swallow. 

A person with opened mouth ready to take cannabis tincture via pipette

Some people do not enjoy the taste of tinctures, and in such cases the mixture can be added to a beverage or food. Remember that the onset time will increase, given that it must pass through the digestive tract. Sublingual administration guarantees a faster onset time of 15-30 minutes.

The effects of tinctures often last for several hours. If you dose during the day, you can stagger the dosing to ensure a consistent and extended outcome.

How to make cannabis tinctures

A dark glass bottle and a pipette with cannabis tinctures and dried cannabis flowers around

Cannabis tinctures are one of the most straightforward products to make in the kitchen. With a mason jar, cheesecloth and patience, anyone can easily infuse their own tinctures. So let us guide you through our guide on how to make tinctures. 

Choosing a base for cannabis tinctures

A person dosing a cannabis tincture from a glass bottle and dried cannabis on a scale

The best option for the tincture base is food-grade ethyl ethanol (95%). It binds effortlessly with cannabinoids and has a neutral taste. Another option is to use food-grade glycerine, which is odourless, colourless and widely used in the food industry. The downside of glycerine is that the potency of glycerine tinctures is never as high as ethanol tinctures.

Cannabis tincture recipe instructions

Two researches in white coats testing dried cannabis flowers

Once you have chosen your base, it is time to start infusing your own tinctures, and you will need the following ingredients:

  • Dried cannabis flower 
  • Roughly 90 ml of ethanol or glycerine per gram of cannabis
  • Cannabis grinder
  • Baking tray
  • Parchment paper
  • Mason jar
  • Cheesecloth

1. Decarboxylate

Dried cannabis flowers on parchment paper in the oven

Decarboxylation is a process that involves using heat to convert all raw cannabinoid acids, like THCa and CBDa, into their psychoactive compounds.

Firstly, grind the cannabis flower. Then spread the ground flower evenly across a baking tray with parchment paper, and let it bake for 30-50 minutes at 105°C-115°C. It is a delicate process, so be careful not to destroy the cannabinoids with excessive heat.

2. Mix the base solution and decarboxylated flower

Decarboxylated cannabis flower that’s mixed with the base solution

Mix the decarboxylated cannabis flower and the base solution into a mason jar. The ratio can vary, but as a rule of thumb, for every 1 gram of raw flower, use 90 ml of solvent. You can adjust the proportions accordingly if you require a stronger or weaker tincture by increasing the flower or the medium by 30%.

3. Steep the solution 

Cannabis solution in a sealed glass jar against the white background

Once mixed, the solution will require around 30 days for the plant compounds to be infused into the medium. If time is not an issue and you want a more potent tincture, let it steep for longer.

To help aid the process, shake the jar daily. 

4. Removing the remaining plant material

Cannabis solution that’s dried through cheesecloth and poured in a glass jar

Next, strain the mixture through a cheesecloth and remove the remaining plant matter. You will then be left with a cannabinoid-rich solution, ready to bottle up and store!

Cooking with tinctures

Cannabis tincture in a glass cup, with a pipette, glass bottles and cannabis leaves beside

One of the many benefits of a cannabis tincture is that it can be added to food or a beverage. You can add a tincture to anything from ice cream to salad dressing or mashed potatoes!

Remember that if you subject the solution to high temperatures, you risk destroying some of the cannabinoids. This will render the solution less potent. To avoid this, try adding the tincture to food which has already been pre-heated. In cases where you must mix it beforehand, use the lowest heat possible to avoid degradation.

How to store a cannabis tincture

Cannabis tinctures in dark bottles stored on a wooden shelf

Cannabis products will inevitably degrade over time, but storing your tincture correctly can significantly decrease the degradation process. When stored under the right conditions, a cannabis tincture can last for years without degradation.

The gradual degradation of cannabis comes from exposure to light, heat and oxygen. To help minimise exposure to sunlight, always bottle your tinctures in opaque glass and keep them in the dark. For maximum shelf life, refrigerators are ideal for storing cannabis tincture, or a cool, dark cupboard would be perfect.

Cannabis tinctures: Potency perfected

Pipette with a cannabis tincture droplet above the glass bottle

For many cannabis enthusiasts, tinctures are the ultimate elixir. Simple to dose, discrete, potent and flavourful, they provide optimal stealth and convenience. So whether you are a newbie or a seasoned pro, tinctures will elevate your cannabis experience to new highs!

  • Disclaimer:
    Laws and regulations regarding cannabis use differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • Profile-image

    Sensi Seeds

    The Sensi Seeds Editorial team has been built throughout our more than 30 years of existence. Our writers and editors include botanists, medical and legal experts as well as renown activists the world over including Lester Grinspoon, Micha Knodt, Robert Connell Clarke, Maurice Veldman, Sebastian Maríncolo, James Burton and Seshata.
    More about this author
Scroll to Top