Tinctures have been around for more than 1000 years. They are thought to have been invented by the Egyptians when they learned to distill alcohol. Distilled alcohol was used to preserve certain plants and make medicines. Some of the most popular herbs and plants that are used to make tinctures are turmeric, echinacea, milk thistle, valerian, elderberry, and cannabis.
Tinctures can be made by soaking the leaves, bark, berries, or roots of some plants in alcohol. The alcohol pulls out the active ingredients in the plant material. You can buy tincture, but making your own at home is a good option because you know exactly what you’re putting into it.
What is a green dragon tincture?
Green dragon tincture, or golden dragon tincture, is a term referring to cannabis tinctures in general. Cannabis tinctures are liquid cannabis products made with high-proof alcohol. Tincture making is one of the most ancient cannabis processes still used today, and it’s particularly popular with medical cannabis users. Tinctures are made by soaking plant materials in alcohol to dissolve the cannabinoids and terpenes and infuse them in the liquid.
Typically, cannabis tinctures are made with alcohol between 50-to-120 proof, or 25-to-60% alcohol content. The higher the proof, the better, as the higher alcohol content both more effectively dissolves the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material and has a higher shelf life, up to 10 years. Other solvents such as vinegar or glycerin also can be used, but they’re typically less effective at removing the cannabinoids from cannabis plant matter.
While green dragon can refer generally to any type of cannabis tincture, many online sources point to Master Wu’s Green Dragon recipe — a specific tincture-making process that creates a final product in significantly less time than other methods. Many tincture recipes require weeks for the alcohol to extract cannabinoids from plant matter — Master Wu’s Green Dragon takes 20 minutes total.
Read on to learn how to make both traditional and Master Wu’s Green Dragon tincture.
Making green dragon tincture at home
Before you get started you will need:
- An oven
- A shallow baking pan
- A saucepan ( for use with alternative Master Wu method)
- Parchment paper
- A Mason jar
- Cannabis flower
- Pure grain alcohol of 90% strength or higher (Everclear works great)
If you are using fresh cannabis that has not been decarboxylated (check out our handy guide to decarbing at that link), then you will need to take the following steps.
On a parchment-lined cookie sheet, evenly spread out a layer of cannabis. Allow to heat in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour at 220 degrees. Because ovens run at varying temperatures, getting the heat right can be tricky. Placing the cookie sheet on the rack in the center of your oven will help keep things even! When done, your cannabis should look slightly toasted brownish and feel dry to the touch.
For an ounce of cannabis, use 16 fl. oz of alcohol to make your tincture. For less, use the proportions of 7 grams of weed for 4 fl. oz. of alcohol.
Why do people like green dragon tinctures?
Many people prefer green dragon tinctures over other cannabis consumption methods for a variety of reasons from effectiveness to personal preference. For some, tinctures are very simple to consume and require little else in the way of effort besides filling an eyedropper with liquid.
Others appreciate green dragon tinctures’ speedy nature, as effects typically begin in around 15 minutes and last for up to five hours — much faster than an edible. Because the THC is absorbed directly into your bloodstream from tissue under your tongue (as opposed to being processed by the liver and transformed into the much more potent 11-hydroxy-THC), tinctures may have fewer of the unpleasant side-effects of consuming edibles. Green dragon tinctures also are a low-calorie option compared to edibles like cookies, pastries, and other sweet treats.
Compared to smoking cannabis, using a green dragon tincture also avoids the risk of inhaling toxins associated with combusting plant matter. It’s also much more discreet than smoking, as tinctures leave no odor and require zero cleanup.
Why do people hate green dragon tinctures?
While many appreciate their speedy effects and discretion, green dragon tinctures aren’t for every cannabis consumer. It’s sometimes uncomfortable to place any liquid under your tongue and try to avoid swallowing — some users do, and thus their bodies process the tincture through the liver, resulting in much longer and more potent effects.
Dosing also presents a challenge with green dragon tinctures. Homemade recipes can be difficult to measure, as potency varies based on the THC in the cannabis used, alcohol proof, variability in the cooking process, and how each person’s body reacts to the cannabis tincture. When self-dosing, common best practice is to start slow with 1 ml at a time and wait to see how your body reacts. Professionally made tinctures created by licensed cannabis businesses help to mitigate this problem.
Master Wu’s Method VS Traditional Method
Once you have reached this stage of the tincture preparation, there are two different ways you can proceed.
For the traditional method, seal the alcohol and cannabis mixture in an airtight mason jar and store it in a cool, dark place for several weeks. Be sure to shake the mixture once a day. Once a month or so has passed, strain the liquid through a paper filter, such as a coffee filter, and separate the plant matter. Put the liquid into a dark glass bottle, preferably with a dropper, so it’s protected from light and easy to use.
Master Wu’s Method:
Fill the sauce pan with enough water to cover half of the mason jar and heat the water to 170° using a thermometer to keep the temperature stable. With the alcohol and cannabis mixture sealed in the mason jar, place the jar into the water and simmer for 20 minutes.
When 20 minutes have passed, you will remove the jar from the pan of water and allow it to cool completely. Next, you will strain the cannabis from the liquid just as you would using the traditional method. It is best to use a dark dropper bottle for this method as well.
The only difference is that with the traditional method for making the tincture you must wait weeks before it is ready to use. Using Master Wu’s tincture method it is ready to use right away.
Finally, making green dragon can be dangerous in and of itself, which is why many people follow the traditional method, which doesn’t call for heating the mixture. Alcohol is flammable and heating it can be risky. Use a thermometer to ensure it stays below the boiling point and DO NOT leave your green dragon mixture unattended while it’s cooking.