Cannabis tinctures are highly effective, easy to dose, convenient to carry, and have a long shelf-life. A tincture is essentially “A solution of a medicinal substance in an alcoholic solvent” as defined by Merriam-Webster. Throughout history tinctures were a preferred delivery system of medications, and cannabis tinctures were considered medicine for the majority of modern history. Cannabis tincture should be reexamined for the obvious and undeniable benefits. I take the traditional Cannabis Tincture and condense it at low temperatures in the Source Turbo by ExtractCraft to create a Cannabis Tincture Concentrate.
ADVANTAGES OF USING TINCTURES
Cannabis tinctures are highly effective because alcohol ushers the commingled cannabis directly into the bloodstream when administered sublingually, meaning putting a few drops under the tongue and holding for as long as you can. Unfortunately, the alcohol in the tincture will burn under the tongue, but watching each other’s faces while it burns can be very entertaining. If the sublingual application or ingesting as is doesn’t agree with you a tincture can be added to tea or water for easy drinking. Using a dropper to measure only a couple drops or up to a full dropper makes measuring dosage very easy, accurate, and repeatable. Good control and understanding of how much you’re using every time limits waste of your precious concoctions and eliminates unintended overindulgence. It’s also much easier than trying to make a brownie and other edibles to exact measure and effect every time. In addition to the ease and accuracy of dosing it’s also nice when you can administer your meds discreetly with no smell, odor or otherwise outwardly distinguishing signs that you are medicating. Not having to deal with smoking accessories, or haul around edibles that will get smashed or turn to a crumbled mess is very liberating. Not only is dosing and use easy and convenient, the shelf-life of a tincture reaches into years and years and years category or storage. If stored in an air tight, dark glass container in a dark cool place it will last almost forever.
Cannabis tinctures fill a void between smoking, vaping and edibles. Uptake with an alcohol based tincture administered sublingually can be as quick as 30-seconds with full effect maturation in 15-minutes. The effects last longer than smoking but are considerably shorter than with edibles, and to my experience are more sublime and smooth than either. Like with edibles, there is no combustion or vaporization and the inefficiency of the lungs is bypassed, so the tincture is packed with and delivers every single piece of goodness the cannabis plant has to offer.
WHAT’S IN A TRADITIONAL TINCTURE?
The old school way of making tinctures was to simply infuse alcohol buy allowing cannabis to soak for a long period, strain the infused liquid out, and that’s your tincture. To achieve meaningful decarboxylation (decarb) naturally the tincture must set for several months in a dark place before it’s potent enough to have an effect. The traditional tincture made with natural decarb is often referred to as ‘Green Dragon’. A more recent adaptation where the cannabis is decarbed in a timed process of applying heat prior to the introduction of alcohol, combining the alcohol and cannabis for a short period, then straining the infused liquid out is referred to as ‘Gold Dragon’. My modern version of these traditional tinctures is a tincture concentrate that is cleaner, more potent, and much faster to craft.
MAKING AN OLD SCHOOL TINCTURE
I use the Source Turbo by ExtractCraft to expedite the condensing process, increase potency, reclaim evaporated ethanol, and make a tincture concentrate. Similar to the Gold Dragon method I decarb the cannabis first at 240F for between 30min-1hr depending on if it’s keif or bud and the moisture content. Next, I put the decarbed cannabis and 95% food-grade ethanol in the freezer separately for 24-hours. Freezing the cannabis and ethanol isn’t completely necessary but without doing so the alcohol will pick up substantially more of the unappealing green leak made up of chlorophyll and unnecessary plant matter. If using nugs loosely break them up just enough for the alcohol to work its way between, around and through all the nooks and crannies of the material, but do NOT grind. Breaking up cannabis too much will lead to more green without any real benefit. Beginning with frozen materials creates a much more beautiful cannabis flower aroma and flavor compared to the thick green plant option, and I really like the flower aroma!
For the extraction the frozen cannabis and ethanol need to be combined, kept frozen, and occasionally agitated gently for 20-30 minutes. For a deep FECO full plant extract soak overnight for the most medicinal value possible. The longer you leave the alcohol and cannabis together the darker and more planty the tincture will become. When the desired color or time period has been achieved strain off the alcohol solution and filter until no particles remain. Viola, an old school tincture.
CRAFTING OLD SCHOOL TINCTURE INTO A TINCTURE CONCENTRATE
This is where I take it to the next level with the Source Turbo and turn the tincture into a tincture concentrate. I put the tincture in the machine and reduce it down to about 1/5th to 1/10th of the starting volume, depending on your concentration preference, where it’s still an alcohol tincture consistency. The reduction in the unit happens at low temperatures of around 100F keeping the terpenes as strong as possible and enhancing the entourage effect to maximum capacity. This process results in a very potent tincture, containing substantially less alcohol, and a slightly reduced sublingual burning sensation. Almost as good, I reclaim a bunch of alcohol to reuse and make the next batch.
MAKING AN ALCOHOLIC-FREE TINCTURE (edible)
Finally, if you don’t want alcohol in the tincture you can use a carrier oil to make a version of a traditional tincture concentrate that metabolizes more like an edible. To do this you simply have to reduce your concentrate down as far as you can in the Source Turbo but still in liquid form. Take the concentrate reduction and combine it with the carrier of your choice in a ratio that suits your ideal potency concentration. The more carrier oil you use the more diluted your tincture will be. To estimate you will need to know the approximate yield for the cannabis in your concentrate. Every gram of cannabis oil in the concentrate you make will be around 750mg-850mg so you can use this approximation in relation to the volume of carrier oil you add to know the dosage.
Make sure the carrier you choose can tolerate the heat required to bind in the next step and note the expiration date of the carrier oil itself. That expiration date will serve as the expiration date of your tincture. Lastly, put the mixture on a hot plate, in an appropriate and safe open container, away from any flame or source of ignition (there’s not much alcohol left in the tincture but there’s still some and it’s flammable), and slowly bring the heat up to the boiling point of alcohol. The alcohol may boil out quiet actively so make sure there’s enough room in the container to allow for the large expansion of bubbles. When the bubbles begin to taper off the temperature of the solution will start to rise quickly through the boiling point of ethanol and this is where you remove the tincture from the heat and allow to cool. The quicker you get it to cool the more intact the cannabis components will be.
The boiling action will continue for a few minutes until the alcohol is gone then calm down again.
Even though it looks like a tincture, it’s actually an edible and it’ll digest like an edible. It’s the non-alcoholic version of a tincture concentrate that can be consumed as is, added to drinks, or combined into food to satisfy your medicating needs. For a finishing touch you can add any flavoring of your choosing. Cinnamon and peppermint are a couple of the favorites but you can use anything your crafting heart desires.
Any cannabis product you consume requires a good idea of dosage to avoid waste and ensure a good experience. Make sure to begin slowly, properly calculate your dosage, and enjoy your beautiful crafted creation.
In the end, remember that I’m a novice with no medical experience or training and encourage anyone reading this to consult with their medical professionals and educate themselves before using concentrates of any kind. What I’m sharing is simply what I’m doing in my own house, I’m of legal age, and acting in complete accordance with local laws and regulations. God Bless Colorado and the people making people healthy again!
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