Making Cannabis Tinctures
By: John Levy
Nobody sits in circles passing around droppers of marijuana tincture. However, while it is not the preferred method of consumption for most people, it is rapidly gaining popularity as more people try it. Although most consider tinctures anti-social, they can be shared among friends and they offer a horde of benefits for those wanting to avoid smoke or who are looking for discretion.
Tinctures are also a great alternative for anyone who finds the intensity of fat-based edibles overwhelming. It is easy to make them, they do not turn kitchens into pot-smelling factories, and they are ideal for making edibles that do not mix well with fat-based infusions, such as candy and drinks. More importantly, they are easier to dose than edibles.
Tinctures offer a convenient and effective system of delivery for medicinal herbs. Because tinctures are alcohol-based, the body absorbs it more easily into the bloodstream. This is why it is easier to dose cannabis tinctures than it is to dose fat-based infusions, such as cannabutter and coconut oil. Effects come on quickly, which makes it possible to adjust the dosage accordingly.
Not only do users feel the effects of tinctures faster than edibles, they wear off much quicker, as well. Even if you do take more than you should, it does not last long enough to ruin your day the way fat-based treats can. It is also harder to overdose on tinctures because they do not taste as good as yummy edibles do, so always be aware of this if you do turn your favorite foods into weed edibles.
For many, the high of tinctures is more focused, alert, and clear-headed than most concentrates, but naturally, the effect depends heavily on the strains used to make the tincture. Another advantage of cannabis tinctures, particularly if you make them soon after harvesting and curing, is that it preserves cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and terpenes intact, and if stored properly, retains their potency for years.
Marijuana Tinctures or Edibles?
Anyone who loves edibles will know that not every day is a good day to consume them. Even if the doses are small, effects often come on suddenly and powerfully, making anyone taking them wish they did not leave the house. Edibles are ideal for intense pain relief, but for many, only when they are able to stay at home and relax without worry.
Many lovers of edibles do feel social afterward. The strain used plays a big role in this, but there is a tendency for this method of consumption to make users lost, confused, overwhelmed, or distracted if they take too much, which can be more unpleasant if it happens away from home. Most consume fat-based edibles to relax, sleep, and feel introspective. For other times, tinctures may be what you need.
Because the effects of tinctures typically wear off quickly and it is easy to adjust their dosages, many consider them a better a choice for when they have obligations to meet. Most consider them best for daytime use over edibles, particularly for those in a great deal of pain who need to get housework or other chores done.
To Smoke or Not To Smoke?
One of the biggest advantage of using tinctures instead of smoking marijuana is that you literally get more value for your money, medically speaking. When you ignite pot, many of its important medical compounds go up in smoke too, and since you do not light tinctures, you know you are getting all of them into your system for maximum healing.
Vaping is also a better alternative to smoking, and it can be particularly convenient if you have a small, discreet vaporizer to carry around with you, but there is no denying that tinctures offer the most discreet, travel-friendly option to smoking, vaping or eating. The effects of tinctures last longer than when you smoke pot, but they are notably mellower and not nearly as intense.
Potent Tincture Mediums
Tinctures are so easy to make that anyone can do it at home. There are three different ways to make them and two methods for seeping. Most use alcohol as the base for tinctures, but you can also make a non-alcohol version using glycerin. If you want to make a few bottles for yourself, choose one of these three mediums before following the seeping directions below:
Marijuana Tincture Using Grain Alcohol
To make grain alcohol pot tinctures, commonly called Green Dragon tinctures, you need Everclear, a pure grain alcohol also known as PGA. The alcohol content is extremely high, which will make your tincture incredibly strong, and it makes an ideal medium for infusing cannabis. If you do not enjoy alcohol or have quit, then this is not the medium for you.
Green Dragon tinctures are intense. For maximum effect, it is wise to use the long steep technique (which will be discussed in part 2 of this article) when making it. Without doubt, many consider grain alcohol-based tinctures to be the most potent of all, and it is the best option for those wanting to make lollypops, candies, gummies, and other hard to infuse delights.
To make the taste more pleasant, especially if you plan on taking it sublingually, or under your tongue, consider adding something sweet to it, such as honey. You may want to do the same if you are going to add a few drops to your coffees, teas, and juices. Despite being the most potent and effective, this method is by far the worst tasting of all.
Marijuana Tincture Using Vodka or Brandy
Brandy, vodka, and other alcoholic drinks will also work to make tinctures, but they are much mellower than those made with pure grain alcohol are. Everclear is illegal in some states, making this an ideal alternative if you cannot get any. Although not as potent as the Green Dragon tincture, this method is much more flavorsome and less intense. Any vodka or brandy will do, provided it is of high quality.
Marijuana Tincture Using Vegetable Glycerin
Despite other mediums in this article being more potent than vegetable glycerin, making tinctures this way promises a sweeter, more palatable medication. A drop or two in your morning coffee will be a fine way to start the day. Because this tincture is fat-based, you can use it to make edibles, as well. For those new to pot or tinctures, this is the perfect introduction.
You can use any vegetable glycerin to make this tincture, but using organic is best, even if it is much harder to find. Make sure, though, that the glycerin you buy is suitable for use in food, as many of their labels say ‘external use only’ or undergo manufacture in non-food-grade facilities. To be sure, it may be wiser to source organic vegetable glycerin directly online.
The Role of Decaboxylation
Decarboxylation is extremely important, but only if you want to get high. Living cannabis plants do not contain THC. Instead, they have a molecule called THCA, which is non-psychoactive and does not make users stoned. When cut down at harvest, the plant starts the decomposition process, during which THCA converts into THC. Only once this process is complete will you feel any effects from taking it.
This is why marijuana goes through drying and curing before consumption. It would not contain any THC if consumed fresh and raw. Exposing cannabis to light, air, and heat will speed the decarboxylation process, which is why you should consider baking it in the oven before making your tinctures, or if you have the equipment, such as a Nova, then use it to transform THCA into THC without losing any.
This is part 1 of the 2 part series on Cannabis Tinctures. See part 2 for recipes for making potent cannabis tinctures!
Written by: John Levy
John Levy is a blogger for Pot Valet, a leading marijuana dispensary online. John is a cannabis supporter and supports its legalization for medicinal purposes. You can follow Pot Valet on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.