Before prohibition cannabis was available at drug stores in the form of a cannabis tincture. These tinctures contained alcohol infused with cannabis. Neither CBD nor THC are water soluble, so either alcohol or oil are needed as a solvent for the activeingredients in cannabis. Today the word tincture is sometimes used to refer to CBD oil as well as to alcohol-based tinctures. The principle is the same. Cannabis is first heated to “decarb” or decarboxylate the plant matter. This is the process that converts the inactive THCA to the intoxicant THC. It also converts CBDA to CBD. After this decarb process the plant material is soaked in grain alcohol and one of several techniques is used to speed up the process of infusing the chemicals from cannabis into the alcohol.
I’ll list three methods that can be used at home. These techniques can be used with CBD hemp flower or with marijuana bud. Before you start you should decarb most or all of the plant material (unless you want to include some THCA and/or CBDA in the tincture). Decarboxilation is a process of heating cannabis to convert THCA to THC and CBDA to CBD. If you are smoking or vaping you are decarbing the material as you smoke or vape.
The slow method:
- Mix your flower or extract in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol (such as Everclear)
- Close the jar and let it sit for a few weeks, shaking it once a day
- After a few weeks, filter it with a coffee filter
The shake method:
- Grind your herb finely, either before or after decarb. Mix in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol (such as Everclear)
- Shake for 3 minutes
- Strain the mixture and store
The high tech method:
- Use your Magical Butter machine or an Infuzium 420. These machines make infused oils and butter, but they simplify the process for tinctures as well. I chose the Infuzium 420 because it has good reviews, it’s cheaper, and it allows me to make smaller batches if I wish.
- Just dump in the alcohol and the herb (grinding not necessary) and push the button for tinctures. The machine heats the mixture safely and stirs it for you. Strain the end product with the strainer included with the machine. Straining again through a coffee filter removes even more of the fine solids.
If you are using hemp flower to make a CBD tincture you should consider including some raw (not decarbed) plant material in addition to the decarbed material. CBDA is a COX2 inhibitor and may inhibit some tumor growth. Similarly, THCA is being studied for a number of health benefits, including treating some seizures.
Whichever method you choose you will end up with a tincture that may burn if you put it under your tongue. If it does, then take it with a sip of water and swish it around in your mouth for a minute or so before swallowing. Adding a drop of peppermint extract and a splash of stevia will make it easier to tolerate too. Putting it in the freezer for 24 hours and then straining it through a coffee filter will remove some of the bitterness too.
You can roughly calculate the dose if you have good lab results on your cannabis. You will likely capture 75% or so of the CBD or THC, so include this in your calculations.
References: Leafly guide to tinctures.