Of all the many different ways to consume cannabis, a tincture is definitely one of the easiest to make and administer. Tinctures are also flexible in that they can be made either strong or subtle according to the user’s preference. Tinctures are also very discreet and can be taken throughout the day and on-the-go by simply applying drops directly under the tongue or to beverages such as tea, coffee, and juices.
Users can choose to take tinctures either orally or sublingually. Oral administration will produce longer effects, yet will take a while to set in. The sublingual route has higher bioavailability, but the effect won’t last as long. Some cannabis users also prefer tinctures due to their full-spectrum nature. Isolated cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are both powerful and useful, yet the presence of additional molecules such as terpenes can enhance the effects of cannabinoids via a process know.
Tinctures can be made using numerous extraction agents such as alcohol and honey, however, this guide will focus of using vegetable glycerine. Vegetable glycerine is a clear and odourless liquid that is produced from plant oils such as palm, soy, and coconut oils. Glycerine is sometimes used in cosmetics, so be sure that you source yours from a good supplier and for the intent of human consumption. Although glycerine is considered a weaker solvent than alcohol, it offers a sweet taste and is ideal for those trying to entirely avoid alcohol use.
How to Make Glycerine-Based Cannabis Medicated Tinctures
Glycerines have a shorter shelf life than alcohol based tinctures and while they can sit on the shelf I refrigerate mine. Vegetable glycerine has nearly no impact on blood sugar or insulin and is very low in calories (4.3 per gram). It’s sweet taste makes the tincture more palatable than the alcohol based tincture and is a suitable substitute for those concerned with alcohol consumption.
Add the amount of cannabis that you desire for potency. I added 6 oz of roughly trimmed (finger trimmed the leaves off) cannabis to 1 gallon of glycerine. For your personal preference add more cannabis or less depending on desired potency. I blend mine, using a coffee grinder, blender or if you are lucky enough to have a Vita Mix. Make sure there is no other product matter in whatever you use. I use a clean basting brush to clean out my Vita Mix when I am done powdering my cannabis.
Place in a crockpot on low. Some crockpot’s low settings are too high so you may not be able to use yours. A “Keep Warm” setting if you have it is the best choice. Too hot, and you are killing the properties you are trying to extract, you want the mixture to be as warm as possible without boiling, I left my tincture like this for 24 hours. I have heard people leaving the tincture from anywhere from 4-6 hours to 3 days. You can try the tincture at intervals to decide when you are done.
If you do not have a crockpot you can place the herbs in a clear, sealed jar in a warm, sunny spot and accomplish the same thing over 4 weeks. Some people make their “sunshine tinctures” over 2 weeks. I do not feel that is long enough, especially in colder weather. Some leave them in the sun for up to 12 weeks. I have never seen a need to go that long myself. Shake each day to mix the herbs in.
When ready to strain use cheesecloth and a strainer to extract the cannabis debris, the THC has been extracted and the tincture is ready to use. The best way to store is in a glass amber bottle. A good place to obtain a large bottle for the bulk of your tincture is a brewery store that has supplies to make wine or beer. I also obtained a few small amber bottles with eye droppers for convenience. It takes a lot longer to strain glycerine than it does alcohol, the tincture will drip when strained instead of flow.
To make glycerine-based cannabis tincture, you will need:
- 14g cannabis flowers (ground or broken into smaller pieces)
- 2 cups vegetable glycerine
- Slow cooker
- Mason jar
- Oven gloves
- Dropper bottles
- Tea towel
- Baking paper
- Baking tray
- First thing’s first, you will need to decarboxylate your cannabis. This process converts THCA into psychoactive THC (and CBDA to CBD) by removing a carboxyl group from the compound. This may sound complex, but it only really involves heating your weed to a certain temperature. Turn your oven up to 104–112°C. Place your baking paper onto a baking tray and spread your weed evenly over the surface. Place the tray in the oven for 40 minutes.
- Now that you have decarboxylated (“decarbed”) your weed, place it into the mason jar. Pour the glycerine into the same jar and seal the lid tightly. Shake the jar vigorously to ensure the two ingredients are mixed well.
- Plug in your slow cooker and set it to warm. Place the tea towel inside the slow cooker to line the sides. Fill the cooker halfway with water and place the mason jar inside. Let the mason jar cook away for a period of 24 hours to allow time for the desired constituents to be extracted. Attend to the slow cooker once every few hours and give the jar a shake.
- Once 24 hours have passed, turn off your slow cooker and remove the mason jar with oven gloves. Remove the lid and let the extract cool down. Once cool, use the cheesecloth to strain the mixture over a bowl. Pour the extract in dropper bottles using a funnel. Save the leftover bud for use in hot drinks.
Cannabis, meet Glycerin
Glycerin is a sweet syrup-like substance that is chemically related to alcohol. It is a by-product of soap and candle manufacture, where fats and oils are broken down into glycerin and fatty acids by the use of high pressure steam. It is colorless, odorless, viscous and of low toxicity. It is 60% as sweet as table sugar (sucrose) with a comparable caloric density. It is absorbed in the human body at a rate 30% slower than sucrose and thus has a lower glycemic index. Three common bases of glycerin are animal fats, soybean oil and coconut oil. We are currently using an organic, non-gmo soybean derived product to manufacture our glycerin tinctures (also referred to as glycerites). The primary advantage of making tinctures with glycerin is to avoid using alcohol so that people with alcohol sensitivities can have access to these forms of extracts. Alcohol is generally regarded as both a superior solvent and preservative when compared to glycerin. Some studies report that glycerin has the capability of only holding 33% the amount of cannabis oil that alcohol can. Thus, it is widely recommended that doses be increased when using glycerites as opposed to alcohol tinctures in order to receive a comparable effect. However, due to the different chemical reactions that are inherent in the two solvents (the way that these solvents break apart the plant material to access their components, or “information” as we like to refer to phyto-chemicals and nutrients), others argue that glycerin actually delivers a more potent extract because it preserves the protein structures of the information that is sought after in the botanical being extracted. Glycerin may capture less information, but the information that it does glean is complete. Alcohol, conversely, has the potential to denature botanical constituents, rendering them inert, because our bodies can no longer “read” or access the information. We believe that both solvents have their place and that their benefits are registered differently in each individual. A glycerin tincture can be just as powerful as an alcohol tincture, at the right time, for the right person, in the right dose. As with any first time experience with one of our products, we recommend that you begin with low doses so that you may register your own individual response to the medication. With this information, you can have the confidence to build your own process of self medication. Stored properly, in containers tightly sealed in low light environments, glycerin tinctures have an approximate 1 year shelf life.