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What is a Tincture and How Does It Work?

Dec, 2021
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One of the common confusions some people have when starting their cannabis journey is usually understanding the different types of cannabis products and how they're unique. If you are looking for CBD products, specifically, you’re most likely to come across CBD tinctures. And the questions are almost always the same: What is a tincture, and how does it work?

Given the seeming similarity between the appearance of tinctures and CBD oil, many people often mistake one for the other. With the inquiries coming our way, asking such questions as what is a CBD tincture? Can you teach me how to use a CBD tincture? We’re here to clear things up. So, let's talk about what a tincture is in the first place. 

cannabis tincture; what is a tincture

What is a Tincture, and How Does It Work?

If your mind shoots to those small bottles with droppers attached to their caps every time you come across the term “tincture,” you're not far off.

Those bottles have established dominance as the foremost containers for tinctures, but they do not define them.

So, what is a tincture?

A tincture is a solution containing plant or animal extracts in an alcohol solvent. These mixtures are often highly concentrated. Hence, consuming them as you would a can of soda or even cough syrup is never a good idea. As you would expect, that is the reason the mixtures often come in small bottles with droppers.

The droppers are essential for measuring accurate dosage that won’t immediately throw the body off balance.

How do tinctures work?

Tinctures have been around for centuries, being the medium of choice for administering herbal medicine in regions worldwide. But, why? Why have humans been using tinctures from generation to generation? It is simply because of how they work – their potency.

To a curious mind asking what is a tincture and how does it work? There are three things to bear in mind:

  • The extractive power of the solvents
  • The high concentration of compounds in tinctures
  • How fast the solvents help deliver the compounds throughout the body

In the past, the most common solvents were alcohol and vinegar. Today, glycerin has made its way into the list, but alcohol remains the top choice in most cases.

These solvents can dissolve the compounds of most organic matter – plant parts, especially – and extract the active ingredients in them. The result becomes the tincture – a highly concentrated solution bearing the solvent and the extracts.

This process makes it possible to extract very beneficial compounds found in plants easily. And more so, alcohol, often being the excipient of choice, helps transport these compounds throughout the body in record time. Owing to their potency, marijuana tinctures are one of the top methods for cannabis consumption.

Note: Alcohol moves rapidly in the bloodstream and can penetrate 68% of body tissues within 90 seconds, and the effects could kick in within 15 to 20 minutes.

What is a CBD Tincture?

A cannabis tincture refers to an alcohol-based cannabis extract. In most cases, this means that the manufacturer used high-proof alcohol as the solvent for extracting the natural compounds in a cannabis plant. In other instances, they used glycerin as the solvent.

You are likely to come across products labeled as CBD tinctures or THC tinctures. A CBD tincture is simply CBD-infused alcohol, just as THC tinctures are THC-infused alcohol. Invariably, CBD tinctures are not totally devoid of THC, and vice versa.

The differentiating factor is the strain of cannabis the manufacturer used in producing the tincture.

LEARN MORE: Ways to Celebrate 420 When You Don't Smoke Weed | The Best Strains for Pain

How to use a CBD tincture

person adding CBD tincture into oatmeal; what is a tincture

If you have gotten this far, you’re probably wondering how to use a CBD tincture for yourself.

There are two major ways you can use a CBD tincture:

  • Sublingually: You can use a dropper to place a drop or two – depending on dosage – under your tongue. The effects could kick in under an hour when you use this method.
  • As an additive: You can use a dropper to add a drop or a few to your food or beverage. It could take up to two hours for the effects to kick in when you use this method.

Watch our short video to learn more about sublingual use.

Note that tinctures are not for topical application and are not effective as topicals. You might as well pour out the content on the floor. If you are new to tinctures, it is best to start with one drop. Then, try consuming another dose if you aren’t feeling the effects after two hours – or simply wait for the next day.

How to Make Cannabis Tinctures

If the question on your mind was in the lines of “what is a tincture and how does it work?” then it is also likely that you want to know how to make them.

Firstly, you have to choose your solvent. Would you be using alcohol or glycerin? Glycerin-based tinctures are less potent than alcohol-based tinctures because they do not mix with cannabis compounds easily. While alcohol is a better choice, patients and cannabis enthusiasts sensitive to alcohol may prefer glycerin.

Secondly, on the assumption that you are using alcohol, what type of alcohol should you use? Always opt for high-proof alcohol; that is, alcohol up to or more than 50% ABV.  

No, isopropyl alcohol doesn’t count. If you are thinking of very high ABV, think Everclear or Spirytus. Nevertheless, you can use any vodka above 40% ABV.

With those out of the way, you can go ahead and make your cannabis tincture. Thus:

  • Decarboxylate your weed by baking the flower in an oven at 240 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes if you want to activate THC, or at 240 for 90 minutes if you want to activate CBD.
  • Put the decarboxylated flower or concentrate inside a mason jar with the desired quantity of high-proof alcohol, then cover the jar. 

For higher potency, opt for less weed and more alcohol. For lower potency or microdosing, opt for more weed and less alcohol; say, 3.5 grams (an eight of weed) for 750 ml of alcohol.

  • Shake the jar once a day for a few weeks (at least 2 to 6 weeks). The longer, the better.
  • After extracting for a few weeks, use a coffee strainer or cheesecloth to filter the mixture into a clean jar.

Tinctures can have a shelf life of up to 5 years, so you don’t have to be in a hurry to finish them.

Cautions for Cannabis Tincture

Now that we have the question of what a CBD tincture is out of the way, you should bear a few things in mind.

  • The potency of your tincture is dependent on the quantity of weed and alcohol you use and the ABV, too. It would be in your best interest to note the procedures used in each batch so you know which you prefer.
  • Alcohol tinctures can be bitter. Brace yourself.
  • Alcohol-based tinctures may give off a burning sensation under your tongue, if that’s not something you can handle, opt for glycerin-based tinctures.
  • On how to use a CBD tincture, always start with a single 1 ml drop, so you can safely observe the effects.
  • The effects can be fast, possibly kicking in within 20 minutes.
  • Some manufacturers tag CBD oil as CBD tincture. They are different products… so confirm what you are purchasing by requesting COAs.
  • Cannabis tinctures offer the full benefits of the constituent strains. In the same manner, the side effects exist too. Hence, if you have a low tolerance for THC, you must check to ensure you are not consuming a tincture with high THC content.

Understanding The Ins and Outs of Cannabis Tinctures With Elevate Holistics

Do you need more clarity on cannabis tinctures or any other cannabis-related issues? Elevate Holistics is here to guide you through the valleys and mountains of your cannabis journey.

Whether you're wondering what a tincture is and how it works, or you're interested in learning about specific terpenes, we're here for you. Feel free to contact us for your cannabis inquiries or to get your medical marijuana card within 48 hours at a very competitive rate.

If you're in one of the states we service, book an appointment using our scheduler below!