Cannabis Tincture and Tincture Concentrate: A Great Way to Medicate!

By Troy Ivan

Cannabis and CBD 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 and for the majority of modern history were a preferred pharmaceutical delivery mechanism.  Cannabis tinctures have been used for hundreds of years delivering obvious and undeniable benefits, but there’s always room for improvement.  We can take this traditional medicine to the next level by increasing concentration and potency to create  “cannabis tincture concentrates” for a great way to medicate that fills a void between smoking, vaping and edibles.  Cannabis, sometimes called hemp, comes in many different strain profiles from high THC, CBD, CBG, with an enumerable combination of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other components.  It can get complicated, but for all intents and purposes of making a tincture it’s the same process when using any strain with any profile, thus I will use plant genus name “cannabis” to describe all. 

Traditional tincture making infused alcohol by allowing cannabis to soak for days, straining the infused alcohol from the cannabis, and letting it set for a long period.  The tincture had to set for a long period to achieve meaningful decarboxylation (decarb) naturally which could take up to a year before it would be potent enough to have any appreciable effect.  The most traditional tincture made with natural decarb is often referred to as ‘Green Dragon’ due to its typically dark green color.  A more recent adaptation called ‘Gold Dragon’ is where cannabis is decarbed prior to the introduction of alcohol, eliminating the wait for natural decarb to occur and significantly lightening the color to a beautiful golden.

The advantages of the traditional tincture are pretty significant.  It couldn’t be easier to make, has a nearly indefinite shelf life, and is highly effective because alcohol ushers the commingled cannabinoid and terpene oil components directly into the bloodstream when administered sublingually.  The best thing is that high-quality materials are not necessary to make a great tincture.  Flower can be used, but it’s almost too good and a waste to use for this.  Instead, great value and good quality can be extracted from trim, shake, grinder kief, and even pressed rosin chips, pucks and bags.  Making tinctures and tincture concentrates is a great way to realize and maximize the value of your material.      

Unfortunately, the disadvantages are pretty significant as well.  The tincture will be nearly all alcohol per volume and the potency then very low.  The potency will not only be low, it will be impossible to even estimate as there are no visual or physical ques to indicate cannabinoid content in the solution.  Additionally, the alcohol in the tincture will burn when administered under the tongue and can be quite unpleasant.  If holding it under the tongue is painful, and it will be, you can swish it around in the mouth a bit as the soft tissue and gums will also help with absorption.  Another way to administer this, that may be more agreeable, is using a small misting spray bottle and spay the tincture into the mouth to be absorbed.  If all else fails you can just consume it orally by swallowing it or adding to food or drink. Finally, cannabinoid bioavailability has been shown to be most effective in the presence of saturated fats. The alcohol tincture obviously has no fat component so the absorption of cannabinoids will not be maximized.  

The traditional tincture is historically significant and had been irreplaceable for hundreds of years but times do change and we have found ways to improve on it.  By adjusting the alcohol content and components we have the ability to make superior end products.  We will call these tincture derivatives “tincture concentrates” and “alcohol-free tincture concentrates.”  


When an alcohol based tincture is preferred the traditional tincture can be improved by removing a significant portion of the alcohol, leaving a much more concentrated alcohol tincture I call a “tincture concentrate.”  Condensing the traditional tincture into a tincture concentrate will increase the potency significantly so you can use much less and reduce the amount of alcohol going into the mouth.  Uptake with an alcohol based tincture administered like this 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’s no combustion or vaporization so the inefficiency of the lungs is bypassed and the tincture is packed with the power of cannabis.


For a similar use profile, but without the alcohol, you can medicate by using an alcohol-free tincture.  People really like this form because it’s very easy to handle and use like a tincture concentrate but doesn’t have the burn from the high proof alcohol. While this may seem complicated it’s simply combining cannabis oil (CO) with a chosen carrier in a calculated ratio to achieve your desired potency for dosing.  This sounds like a traditional infusion and it is similar but with a very important difference. Infusion is very rudimentary and there’s no way to know or control the potency so you end up with a very high volume of carrier oil and relatively low and unknown potency.  The alcohol-free tincture is ostensibly the same as an infusion with the very important distinction that you are able to control exactly the ratio of cannabis to carrier and thus perfectly control the potency you desire.

Alcohol-Free Tincture Concentrate

You can use any fat based carriers like MCT oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil or any oil you find most appealing.  Even sugar and maple syrups can be used as a base but that gets away from the tincture use profile a little.  Alcohol-free tinctures are basically edibles and will metabolize as such through the stomach with a longer time to onset, last longer, and be a bit more intense with delta-11 conversion after passing through the liver. 


Both the alcohol based and alcohol-free tinctures share the great advantage of having a very high cannabinoid potency per volume. The very concentrated and smaller volume is easy to handle.  Using a dropper to measure out only a few drops makes dosage 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 so much quicker and easier than trying to make a brownie and other edibles to exact measure and effect every time. Administering meds discreetly with no smell, odor or otherwise outwardly distinguishing signs that you are medicating and not having to deal with smoking accessories or carry around edibles that will melt or get smashed into a crumbled mess is very liberating.  

The alcohol-free version has a significant advantage over the alcohol based version. The fat component included in the carrier of the alcohol-free tincture provides enhanced cannabinoid bioavailability. The fat help the body to absorb cannabinoids much more easily. The higher bioavailability means less of the tincture can be used for the same medicinal effect. By simply combining the CO with the fat carrier you are getting better value from your starting material. 

Lastly, like tinctures, tincture concentrates have a healthy shelf life.  An alcohol base tincture can have a shelf life that extends into years and if stored in an air tight, dark glass container in a dark, cool place it will last almost forever.  The shelf life of alcohol-free tincture concentrates aren’t quite as robust but are only limited to the shelf life of the carrier.  Most carrier oils have a pretty significant shelf life if handled and stored appropriately.


Traditional Tincture 

Making a traditional tincture is as easy as it gets.  All you need is cannabis, 190-proof food-grade alcohol and a jar.  You will see products for sale that complicate this process by adding heat and chopping mechanisms that are not only unnecessary but the exact opposite of what you need to make a high quality cannabis tincture.  Room temperature or even cold ethanol alone is aggressive enough to harvest everything you need from cannabis.  

Before crafting a tincture two decisions must be made: is decarboxylation (decarb) necessary and how “clean” does the end product need to be?  Decarbing cannabis is a small deviation from the traditional method of letting it set for up to a year to fully activate the THC, but it’s going to save a lot of time and have the same end result.  If the considerations and practices involved with decarbing cannabis are unfamiliar all that’s necessary to know can be found in my decarb post Decarboxylation (decarb) 101: Basic understanding and at home method comparison.  It’s important to note here that if you decide to make a non-decarbed THC-A tincture it will decarb over time eventually becoming predominantly THC and psychoactive.  The main way to slow the natural decarbing process is to store the finished tincture in the freezer.  

The question of how clean the end product needs to be deals with how much plant matter will be included in the final tincture.  Some people really want everything they can get from the plant resulting in a very dark green color with a plant heavy smell and taste.  Other people, and the more modern approach, focuses on collecting only the cannabinoids, terpenes and other trichome contents, avoiding as much of the other plant matter as possible.  There’s no right and wrong here, every user has a unique and personal relationship with the cannabis plant and should use what works best for them.  If you are not sure which you prefer just make a small batch of each and decide from there.

To make the heavy, dark green tincture put whatever cannabis material you are using (decarbed or not) into a jar, pour in enough room temperature 190-proof ethanol to cover it then add about an extra inch on top of that and close the jar.  Give the jar a shake periodically as it soaks for 1-24 hours, the longer it soaks the more green plant component will be collected.  When it’s soaked long enough separate the plant matter with a mesh strainer, then pass the collected tincture through a couple coffee filters and the results will be a bright green cannabis tincture ready for use.

The “clean” golden tincture version is made by the same process with one difference.  The difference lies in using cold temperatures to limit the collection of fats, waxes and chlorophyll. The cannabis and ethanol go into the freezer for 24 hours before combining them to soak.  Once the ethanol and cannabis are sufficiently cold, add enough cold ethanol to cover the cannabis then add about an extra inch on top of that, close the jar and place it back in the freezer. Allow it to soak for 1-24 hours with periodic shaking and finish by straining and filtering. 

The coolest thing is these aren’t only tinctures and the beginnings of a tincture concentrates. Believe it or not this is a primary extraction that could be made into all kinds of concentrates like oil, wax, crumble, pull-n-snap, shatter, and more.  Making the tincture is the backbone of making concentrates, it all starts here.

Tincture Concentrate 

The tincture concentrate takes tinctures to the next level by removing the majority of alcohol and creating a much more concentrated form.  It contains the same medicine as the original tincture but much more condensed and potent.  To remove the unwanted ethanol volume and concentrate the tincture I use the equipment from The DIY Vacuum Still posts (Part 1 Part 2).  The tincture should be reduced down to about 1/5 – 1/10 of the original starting volume.  The reduction under vacuum happens at low temperatures around 100°F to keep the cannabis components like terpenes strong and maximize the medicinal effects.  This process results in a very potent tincture with a reduced sublingual burning sensation due to the much lowered alcohol volume.

Alcohol-Free Tincture Concentrate (edible)

Making an alcohol-free tincture concentrate begins the same as making a regular tincture concentrate but instead of reducing the tincture part way, you keep going until all the alcohol is removed and you’re left with just cannabis oil (CO).  

Cannabis Oil Ready for Mixing With Carrier

The beautiful CO can be collected and combined with a carrier in any ratio that creates the desired potency level.  The more carrier oil you use the more diluted and less potent your mixture will be.  To estimate the strength of this tincture concentrate the approximate potency of CO is important .  Every gram of CO used will be around 600 mg-700 mg cannabinoids (slightly lower if it’s super black and slightly higher if it’s super clean).  Here’s an example calculation:


  • 1oz (30 ml) dropper bottle
  • 1g (1 ml) of CO 650 mg 
  • 29 ml of any carrier oil 
  • Ratio 29:1


  • 650 mg/30 ml = 21.7 mg per 1ml
  • 1 ml contains about 40 drops from a dropper (this varies widely, confirm drops per 1 ml with your dropper)
  • 1 drop = 21.7/40 = 0.54 mg

1mg per drop and can be adjusted easily by adding more or less carrier to suit your needs.

Once the ratio of CO to carrier is determined, combine the two components in an appropriate and safe open container over very gentle heat continually stirring.  The heat and stirring allow the two oil based compounds to bind together and avoid separation later. It doesn’t require much heat or time, only about 150°F for 10 minutes should do the trick.  If it takes a little longer for your CO to dissolve just keep going until its fully incorporated.  For a nice finishing touch on the clean version flavors like cinnamon and peppermint can be added.  Unfortunately, for the darker green concoctions you will be stuck with the green plant flavor and nothing will mask it well.  

There’s a big bonus to making a tincture concentrate and having it premade and on hand as well.  In addition to consuming straight from the dropper, you can easily incorporate it into any culinary dish you prepare.  It can be mixed into a salad dressing, sauces, mac & cheese, a peanut butter sandwich or whatever sounds good.

Note on Crafting Alcohol-Free Tincture Concentrates

The alcohol-free tincture, like alcohol-free beer, will contain a trace of alcohol that will not be detectable by smell or taste in the finished product.  In terms of the complete formulation the alcohol content is very small but let’s take a look at the different remediation options you have with reference back to the details from the potency calculation example above.  

Upper Boundary (no effort): Using CO straight out of the extraction machine when the oil is very loose, with no further effort to minimize alcohol content, would have a decent alcohol component remaining of around 5% (50,000 ppm).  Once you combine the CO and carrier to make the 30ml mixture that alcohol component falls to 0.16% (1,600 ppm) for the entire formulation.  The upper boundary is only 1,600 ppm which is very low and perfectly acceptable to me so I just use the CO straight out of the machine and call it a day.

Normal Execution (little effort):  With a little effort the overall alcohol component can be reduced to essentially nothing.  After making the CO it can air purge for a day or two to get the alcohol content down to around 2,000 ppm.  Using 1g of CO at 2,000 ppm with 29 ml of carrier produces a formulation of approximately 70 ppm of alcohol.  That’s 70/1,000,000 which is pretty darn negligible.

Lowest Boundary (most effort):  With more effort the alcohol content can be lowered even further than darn negligible. There are a few options for doing this which I won’t even bother calculating.  

  1. Purge the CO further before incorporating into the carrier by blowing a fan over it and setting it on very low heat, like a coffee warmer, while it purges.  
  2. Boil the alcohol out of the combined CO and carrier oil mixture by heating the mixture to around 200°F.  The boiling point of ethanol on its own is just above 170°F, but will increase when combined with the carrier oil, so while raising the mixture’s temp to 200°F all the alcohol that can be purged will boil/evaporate out.  
  3. Decarb the CO after the extraction instead of decarbing the cannabis beforehand.  This will eliminate as much alcohol as is possible.  Again, the details on how to decarb the CO are included at the end of my decarb blog Decarboxylation (decarb) 101: Basic understanding and at home method comparison


You are now armed with the knowledge to make yourself a wonderful way to medicate with your cannabis needs. I hope this has helped clear up any questions and provided the encouragement to give a tincture concentrate a try, I think you’ll like it. If you have any questions or comments let me know, I’m ready! Stay Lifted Friends.



20 thoughts on “Cannabis Tincture and Tincture Concentrate: A Great Way to Medicate!

  1. I have a question? I made alcohol tinture in mbm can I take it still and put it in the turbo source to clean it up?

    1. Quite honestly that’s the worst possible way to make a tincture. I wouldn’t put it in the Source as it will most likely make a mess due to thick chopped up plant parts.

  2. Great information in all your articles. Decided two years ago to try new things besides smoke. Being a noob to all other areas besides smoke I fell for the MBM. It is somewhat labor intensive on the post side of production and the mess/sludge is a nuisance. Not to mention the incorporated plant material makes it taste like mowed grass. Had to go to at least 1 ounce cannabis to 1 cup ethanol to get something strong enough to work. Tried both flower and shake. Even with that sublingual was out of the question. Required too much product and the pain was unbearable, if not physically harming the tissues of my mouth. Now I’ve grown and have read a lot more on the topic.

    I’m looking forward to producing a cleaner much stronger product with QWET and ethanol reclamation. My question is regarding your statement that an alcohol free tincture is basically an edible. Does that mean the infused oil won’t provide absorption under the tongue as the alcohol does? I’m thinking that is true and the alcohol is needed as a medium to be absorbed under the tongue bringing the medicine along with it. I’ve been ingesting the MBM alcohol tinctures with moderate success of effect but am hoping to be able to make something to try the sublingual approach. If the oil won’t work then I’m guessing my best bet is to concentrate the alcohol tincture and get it down where a drop or two might work instead of a dropper full.

    One other noob question. Can you winterize the tincture before ethanol reclamation instead of having to run two ethanol processes? Meaning can I take the original tincture wash after filtration and freeze and filter again before the reclamation step.

    1. Hi Joe. Unfortunately, oil does not absorb under the tongue even though you will see internet people claiming to use oil as a sublingual. It’s just not how it works. It will be digested as an edible. The down side is it doesn’t absorb straight through the tissue like alcohol alcohol, but the upside is the fat in the carrier oil helps with absorption and bioavailability. Lastly, I’m not sure where the confusion came from but when you say, “can I take the original tincture wash after filtration and freeze and filter again before the reclamation step?” that is exactly how it should be done.

  3. Hi, I have been making the alcohol tincture for a few years now, then making candies.

    I decarb, freeze the material and the alcohol for 24 hours, then combine in the freezer for a few days, agitating often. But one thing I am never sure of: how much ethanol is recommended for the best extraction? Specifically, is there an ideal ratio of ethanol to plant material? I often read “just cover the material with an inch or so of alcohol”. But is that really enough?

    Also, how long should I leave the combination in the freezer for the most complete extraction?

    1. The ethanol volume guidance is imprecise because the volumetric measure of starting material is highly variable. As long as the material is submerged well, with what would appear to have have plenty of extra ethanol to slosh around and through the material it should be sufficient. At regular freezer temps an hour or two is more than plenty for a FECO type edible extraction. I would suggest looking at this post

    1. Digestion type oral applications, like the carrier oil based “tincture” are not sublingual. They will go through the stomach and liver regardless if you hold under your tongue or not, it will be swallowed in the end. Alcohol and other more engineered application with proper delivery can sublingual. The liver part of the comment is moot, it doesn’t have to go through the liver to provide the medicinal benefits. If you are looking for the stronger psychotropic metabolite conversion to 11-hydroxy-THC then it needs to go through the liver.

  4. I’ve been looking for awhile but can not find anywhere if 15% alcohol could work if I soaked it for closer to a week (pre decarded in my case and may decide to do it cold or just room temp) for real dark green “natural stuff”. obviously I’m going to do small tests before a full oz but would really like to know from someone with experience in a less strict or more flexible style weather its just not worth trying (keep in mind I am looking for a “bad taste” or natural tincture and not just full spectrum in terms of cannabinoids but also in plant material) at all or if it would be viable but most likely lose out on potency or if it would work fully just take more time I would just like to know your opinion on it. I’ve read tinctures (non cannabis) can be made out of water even (15% alcohol is 85% water if I understand that right) and there is still the 15% alcohol that’s technically as far as I can understand still pure alcohol just “next” to water on a molecular scale if that makes sense I’m not 100% but I dont think water can really properly mix with alcohol on a molecular scale so maybe it might just mix together with weed like most higher proof alcohols. I’m feeling like that’s the wrong way to think about it and maybe I should be thinking it is just mixed but still that’s kind of part of what I’m wondering. ultimately I’m curious about this because my mom is getting a bit older and is having trouble sleeping even with smoke. (I do understand edibles are the best for sleep as they stay in the system longer then tinctures but I’m not trying that yet.) she already enjoys a shot of charry brandy before bed like her grandma did and I thought it might be nice to get her a dropper of charry brandy weed tincture to have a few drops under her tongue before her shot. ill ask her if it lasts long enough or if she’s waking in the middle of the night and if so that’s when I’m going to try some edibles for her, lol and myself of course 🙂 thanks for your patients reading this I can never keep it short lol and any advise you might have is vary much apricated and relatively trusted based on the info in this article and thanks for the article too I got a lot from it (I’ve made it many times before but only ever the “right” way following a recipe like the world will end if I veer off it or like all my money/weed will be wasted if I experiment in any way and I bet the non decarded version a long time ago was often used long before fully activated. I’m just thinking/realizing maybe society is getting a little two picky and that maybe doing something in a way that’s not to our perfect standards could still be way more then good enough in relation to what we need/want. I am looking for strong medication but dose not need to be the strongest possible just strong enough.. are we overcomplicating it in ways?? could we try things like beer or wine tincture, that is not my main question but tied to it for sure, other then this one sentence assume I mean spirits??) oh and thankyou again for any help and sorry for the length and my lack of education when it comes to grammar and proper sentence and paragraphing/spelling and all the other language/writing rules I never found interest in lol well kind of

    1. I would suggest reading the Ethanol Extraction Complete Breakdown posts and watching the videos. It’s all in there.

  5. ahh sorry I missed when you said oil and just mindlessly inserted tincture? (which I guess I should assume could be either kind now I’m just so used to the stuff I make and thc is the only medication in my case). I have only ever used/made alcohol based, my doctor put me on it because my liver cant process thc that’s why I mentioned the liver because you had mentioned “It will be digested as an edible.” and I had still missed the oil specification at that point.. all cleared up now. thankyou 🙂

    and I always decarb first so your “the liver part of the comment is moot” is moot. lol sorry trolling there just having fun my friend. cool to learn the oil based wont work for me thanks.

  6. Hello, very VERY informative as always! Let me drop a couple of questions! 1)i tried getting sublingual absorption by a concentrated alcohol tincture but it does not seem to work at all (sublingually, great as edible) Tried it at least 10 times but am unable to keep it in more than 20-30 seconds due to the BURN! Is there a way to reduce the burn? 2) Boogie from the fb group told me that he usually reduces to oil and then mix it with everclear! How does that sound!
    3) Off topic! I REALLY want to try yout joint pain salve but live in europe! What is the self life? I have people in canada that will visit me during summer! If i order now and they bring them to me on july will that be ok? Thanks again for all the effort…

    1. Hi, thank you for the kind words!

      1) You can always try to add water to lessen the burn. The problem is it’s really hard to figure out if you are absorbing it in the mouth or if it is being swallowed accidentally. The burn is real. You can try swishing around in the mouth in the hopes that other mouth tissues absorb it. The other confusing thing about absorption, is that it doesn’t hit like a normal edible so it’s hard for me to tell if it actually absorbed or not. Same problem as with nano stuff for me. It’s a really shallow high.

      2) Shelf life is about 1-year. I would suggest your friends order closer to when they leave if possible. Also, I’ve sent this all over the world at this point. If you’d like to dm or email me your address I can let you know what shipping would be.

      Thanks again and stay lifted.

  7. “1g (1 ml) of CO 650 mg”

    In this part of your formula and calculations, where does “650mg” come from?

    Sorry if I missed something basic.

    Thanks in advance

    1. If a concentrate potency is 65% then it would be 650 mg per gram. 1g = 1,000 mg. 65% of that is 650 mg.

  8. I did a room temp 190 and ground up bud. I got a wonderful dark green/black sticky liquid. This got on my counter and stained a green ring. Glad I found you. I will upgrade my system and get a better product. It works. Plenty potent. Just tastes pretty green. I put a dropper full (1 mil – I didn’t evaporate it) in my drink and the taste is strong I really know I have added the tincture. And my cousin told me I had to let is sit for a month to allow it time to steep. LOL – now I know better. Thanks for your work here. I found my new hobby.

    1. Yeah, people have been been confusing and combining various unrelated processes for a long time. Unfortunately, most don’t understand that that steeping is really doing nothing but making the product lower quality. If you have time take a look at the “Ethanol Extraction: Complete Breakdown” and the appendix to to the “Value at the Dispo” articles to see why I say that the green goop is no good. Glad you are on your way to a better end product, best of luck.

  9. Hello there ! I own a source turbo and am used to make myself wonderful thc tinctures. I use ethanol and perform a very short wash before filtering (usually 5minutes after everything being in the freezer for 48h). The extracted obtained is then solubilized in MCT oil. Now I want to try a CBD tincture (with some high CBD material) to help a friend. It might be consumed under the tongue but also maybe directly on sking, we will see. Any tip ? maybe I should extract for a longer time ?

    1. That’s very nice of you to make for your friend. First, I would make the wash time longer considering you are making a tincture and using the proper cold temps. I would refer you to my article “Ethanol Extraction: Complete Breakdown” for the times and temps recommended. Second, using oil based ‘tinctures’ under the tongue most likely won’t be absorbed the way you are thinking like a sublingual. It’s just not that easy and doesn’t work like that. It will just end up being swallowed for the most part. Lastly, I wouldn’t suggest anyone buy the Source Turbo any longer, there are too many problems with the equipment and the company. My DIY solution is MUCH cheaper, WAY faster, WAY larger capacity and WAY more quiet.

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