Cannabis extraction works best with ninety percent ethyl alcohol (Everclear works really well if you can find it) or forty-five proof.
Parke Davies Pharmaceuticals, distributors of the original medicinal pharmaceutical extract to pharmacies during the late 19th century used eighty percent or forty proof.
Pure grain alcohol can be difficult to obtain, depending on where you are located. Confusion often exists around “proof” and “percent.” Percent is approximately half to proof. In the United States, one hundred proof is defined as (fifty percent) alcohol by volume. Exercise extreme caution when evaporating high-proof alcohol due to its flammable nature.
Remember “proof and poof!”
The philosophy behind “tincture” is to capture the spiritual and physical essence of the plant. This is done by using the power of ethyl alcohol to dissolve and preserve the herb in question.
Ethyl alcohol, known as ethanol, is used for countless applications. Produced biologically by the fermentation of either sugar or starch, ethanol may be used as a solvent for organic chemicals, or as a starting compound for manufacturing dyes, drugs, perfumes, and explosives.
Different plant species demand different strengths of solvent or alcohol. Resinous plants such as cannabis, along with countless other alkaloid-rich botanicals, are ideally suited for extraction in high-proof spirits such as ninety percent pure grain alcohol (Everclear).
The cannabis used for soaking must be dry. When fresh bud is used, the result is disappointing. Scissoring up the plant material effectively facilitates extracting all psychoactive constituents. Cannabis should soak anywhere from one to ten days. Some folks soak it for up to four weeks, following that up with a secondary five-day soak in fresh ethanol just to ensure all cannabinoids have been leached. Buds are great for tincturing, but must be dried first. However, some others insist that the buds remain in the solvent no longer than six hours. They claim that solvents instantly grab onto THC molecules and anything after this period benefits only terpene, oils, and chlorophylls, contaminating the final product. Personal experience says seven days is adequate, but you should experiment with different periods to see what works for you and your buds. The recommended minimum cannabis to alcohol ratio is one gram of bud to one ounce of fluid (alcohol). Some people use 7-10 grams good bud shake to one (1) ounce of liquid (alcohol).
Throughout the soaking period, use only enough ethanol to cover the plant material and occasionally agitate. After you have soaked the bud for the desired time, shake and strain the plant material. After filtering the cannabis solution, it is ready to be stored. Use a dark colored glass bottle (cobalt blue, dark green, or amber) to keep the light out and protect from light degradation. For further protection, the tincture should be kept in a cool, dark place. Cannabis preserved in ethanol has a long shelf life. Tincture medicines do not come with an expiry date. The fragrance and bouquet of mature tincture is floral akin to perfume. As the mother tincture matures, new cannabis solution is added, and the final evaporated concentrate extract becomes a composite of many superior cannabis flowers. The viscosity of solutions will change during evaporation and concentration. It will thicken.
The effects are noticeable within 15 minutes, and felt completely within a half-hour. An advantage of tincture and extract preparations is their ease of dispensing, consumption, and rapid absorption. Tinctures can become very potent when concentrated, so adjust according to individual dosage requirements. Tinctures come on fast but soon flatten out, unlike the sustained build and longevity of cooked cannabis products. Throughout the tincture experience, one is imbued with great tranquility.
Heating the potion may also increase tincture strength. Tinctures can be added to cooking recipes by concentrating the tincture into a syrup consistency, further enhancing efficacy.
Ethanol represents the least toxic of all the alcohols. The toxicity of medicines, drugs, and poisons is calibrated by the (LD50), meaning the lethal dose for fifty percent, signifying the amount of substance necessary to be fatal. Alcohol is in the highly dangerous category. Just five times the amount needed to get you happy can be lethal. Unlike cannabis, ethanol shares no receptor sites to which it connects. Alcohol intoxication represents a true poisoning. Humans possess an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenate which helps metabolize ethanol by oxidizing it to acetaldehyde. Other alcohols like methanol, propanol, phenol, and ethylene are extremely poisonous and can cause blindness and death.
The term “denatured alcohol” means poisonous methanol has been added to prevent drinking, making it unsuitable for tinctures ingested orally. When it comes to making tinctures, solvent alcohols are essential. These methods require high-proof spirits. A standard tincture is at a ratio of one gram of cannabis to 35 ml. (1 ounce) of pure grain ethanol. This strength, a dosage of (1.4 ml.) of extract (2 squirts) mixed with water is barely noticeable. (Although it is a very effective appetite stimulant)
It does not matter what size jar you use as long as the top one quarter is liquid. Dry herbs lose their potency within a year. Fresh herbs rot soon after harvest. The preserved and extracted medicinal properties of an herb (alcoholic extract) may last more than a hundred years. You can purchase tinctures or you can make your own. They are very easy to make, but the process is time consuming, and it takes months to brew a strong tincture.
100 proof alcohol (vodka works well)
Glass mason jar
Organic dried or fresh herbs Stuff for straining: sieve, cheesecloth, coffee filters
Bottle to put the finished tincture in
Note: Make on the new moon; strain on the full moon. Shake tincture at least once a week (shake every other day).
Put herbs in blender. Add 100 proof alcohols to cover ¼ inch over the herbs. Blend well to a soupy consistency and pour into a glass jar. Screw on lid. Let herbs settle for a day to see how much liquid is on top. (3/4 part herbs to 1/4 part liquid)
Screw the lid on and let it brews in the dark for at least four weeks or for months if you desire (but remember to strain on the full moon). To strain, pour the entire contents of the jar through your strainer and press all liquid out of the soaked herbs with a wooden spoon. Keep finished tincture sealed, as the alcohol will evaporate if left unsealed.
For Multiple Sclerosis and many degenerative neurological disorders, CBD (compound in cannabis) is truly a miracle.
Oral cannabis, such as cannabutter, is absorbed in a very different way than smoking or inhalation. The GI tract gradually absorbs Cannabinoids over the course of one to two hours. Medicine is processed first by the liver, which converts some cannabinoids such as (delta 9) to a (delta 11) version of THC. Orally delivered cannabis requires four to ten times the amount of the smoked version in order to achieve the same effect. Orally delivered cannabis can present a problem in achieving the required or desired dose level in any consistent fashion.
Tinctures are designed to give rapid medicine delivery and consistent dosing. Most tinctures are made to be used under the tongue (sublingually). English pharmaceutical companies are presently working on a cannabis extract “spray” that can be used under the tongue in a similar fashion. These sprays are not expected to be approved for use in the United States for years and will be very expensive. Absorption by the arterial blood supply under the tongue is completed in seconds. One trick is to not swallow the dose. Just let it absorb naturally. Many patients, though, add their tincture to a cup of tea or cranberry juice for easy delivery. When tincture is used in a beverage, absorption will be slower than if absorbed under the tongue. Usually, a tincture dose is delivered by means of a medicine dropper or a teaspoon. A rule of thumb on dose is that patients receive benefit from 3-4 drops. The methods listed below will detail two major methods of preparing tincture. While the methods are optimized for purity and potency, ultimately these will largely be determined by the purity and potency of the cannabis from which the tincture is made. Another item of note about starting material for tincture is the patient or caregiver selection of strain. A rough rule of thumb is to select Indica dominant strains for cramping and muscle spasticity and Sativa dominant strains for pain relief.
Tincture is an extraction of active cannabinoids from plant material. Cannabis contains many chemicals that can upset the stomach or taste nasty. One of the goals of extraction is to secure the cannabinoids while leaving out as many of the terpenes and chlorophylls as possible. Both heat and light adversely affect cannabinoids and should be avoided or minimized. Tincture should be stored in airtight dark glass containers kept at room temperature or cooler (refrigerate or even freeze). Avoid plastic containers.
Making tinctures cold preserves the integrity of cannabinoids. To be potent, this method requires starting material high in cannabinoid content such as flowers or kief made from bud trim and leaf. The material must be mold free and dry. Drying can be accomplished in the freezer (-4 to 10 degrees Celsius) or by placing in a liquid proof bag into a dry ice/ethanol ice bath (-70 degrees Celsius). Once water has been removed then the surface area of the starting material requires expansion. This can be accomplished a number of ways but two ways stand out:
Using flowers (bud) – Place dried buds in a blender and pulse until thoroughly ground but not powdered.
Making kief– Rub dry trim and leaves over a silk screen. Collect the powder the comes through the screen. It should be a very pale green. “Kiefing” is an age-old way of extracting trichomes from plant material. Whether kief or ground bud is used both should be kept ice cold for this preparation. Similarly, the ethanol to be used should also be ice cold throughout the process. Selection of alcohol- ethanol or ethyl alcohol is the form of alcohol that can be used by humans. The proof listed on commercial alcohol refers to the percentage of ethanol that the beverage contains. The proof is twice the percentage (80 proof) means that the mixture contains (40%) ethanol. The higher the alcohol content used, the better the extraction will work. Ideally, (200 proof) ethanol would be best to use. However, ethanol cannot be distilled to this proof so benzene is used to remove the last vestiges of water and this is what makes “pure” ethanol poisonous.
Many folks use “Everclear” which stands at (190 proof) or 95% ethanol. Everclear has no taste. Apparently, Everclear is not available in all States. A close second choice is (151 proof) rum. This is a light amber liquid that is seventy five percent ethanol that has a sweet taste. Others use iced Russian vodka. These distilled spirits are (40% to 50%) ethanol.
Use at least one ounce of starting material to each pint of ethanol. Place cold powdered kief or ground cannabis flowers together with ethanol in a glass quart-mixing jar. Close the jar tightly and vigorously shake for five minutes then return to the freezer. Continue to agitate the mixture every few hours with refreezing. Continue for a period of two to three days. Pour the cold mixture through a double thickness of sterile cheesecloth. Decant into your colored glass bottle for storage.
If Everclear is used the tincture will be pale green to golden. If 151 rum is used, an amber tincture results. Dark green tinctures mean that excess plant material is present. This does not mean that the tincture will not be potent it will just taste a bit nasty. When Everclear is used, various flavor extracts may be added (vanilla, raspberry, peppermint). Be careful to use only a drop or two of flavor extract
The old fashioned (and effective) way to make tincture from trim, leaf or “shake” is to grind the plant material to expose surface area. A fine grind is not needed and will just make the tincture cloudy. A rough chop will do. Most folks cannot afford to use kief or bud for tincture but may have leaf handy. If so, this is the way to go. Use ethanol as described above in the same proportions. The key difference is that in this preparation the materials are kept warm (not hot). Light must be avoided.
Place the ethanol and chopped cannabis in a large glass Mason jar. Shake at least once a day. Place the jar in a brown paper bag or otherwise shield the jar from light. Leave in a warm spot (near a window) for 30-60 days. The mixture will turn a very dark green. Strain as previously described through cheesecloth. While this method produces a nasty tasting tincture, it is powerful. It is recommended that Warm Tinctures be used orally in cranberry juice or coffee with sugar. Keep the filtered tincture in light blocking glass jars or bottles in a cool dry place (refrigerator or freezer is fine)
You need to use food grade U.S.P glycerin, this can be relatively hard to find inexpensively but a gallon lasts a long time. Glycerine’s have a shorter shelf life than alcohol based tinctures. It is easier just to refrigerate them. Vegetable glycerin has nearly no affect on blood sugar or insulin and is very low in calories (4.3 per gram). It has a sweet taste. Add the amount of cannabis that you desire for potency. Six to eight ounces of good shake to one gallon of glycerin. Add more cannabis or less depending on desired potency. Put your cannabis in the blender and pulse.
Place in a crockpot on warm or low setting. Some crockpot’s low setting is too high. A warm setting is the best choice. Too hot, and you are killing the properties you are trying to extract. The mixture should be as warm as possible without boiling. I left my tincture like this for 24 hours. I have heard people leaving the tincture anywhere from 4-6 hours to 3 days. You can try the tincture at intervals to decide when you are done. Just do not let it get too hot. My new thinking is, the shorter time the better. 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 a four-week period. 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 twelve weeks. 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 colored glass 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. Small dropper bottles can be purchased online or from your local health coop. It takes a lot longer to strain glycerin than it does alcohol. (So much thicker)
To make infused herbal oil you will need the following supplies:
Harvest your plant material in the heat of the day, after the sun has dried the dew. It is best to wait at least 36 hours after the last rain before harvesting plants for infused oils. Wet plant materials will make moldy oils. To prevent this, some people dry their herbs and then put them in oil. I find this gives an inferior quality product in most cases. Coarsely chop the roots, leaves, or flowers of your chosen plant. Fill your jar completely full of the chopped plant material. Add olive oil until the jar is completely full. Tightly lid the jar. Label it. Put it in a small bowl (to collect seepage and over-runs). Your infused oil is ready to use in six weeks.
Stays good for up to two years in a cool refrigerator; up to five years in the freezer. Put all ingredients in your blender or Cuisinart
When herbs are infused into animal fat, they form a natural salve, without the need of thickening. However, herbs infused into oils are drippy, leaky, and messy. They need a little beeswax melted into them to make them solid. The more beeswax added, the firmer the oil will be. A little beeswax will make a soft salve. A medium amount will make a firm ointment. In addition, a lot will make a stiff lip balm.
– Too soft– Add more beeswax, a little at a time.
– Too hard– Add more infused oil (if possible) or plain oil.
1. The Cannabis is ground down to make a powder.
2. The Cannabis powder is soaked overnight in warm water. This removes any water-soluble impurities but not any of the cannabinoids.
3. The excess water is drained off and the Cannabis placed in an airtight jar. The alcohol is poured over.
4. The mixture is kept in a cool, dark place for about 10 days and shaken daily. Then it is filtered through a strainer or, if resin has been used, a coffee filter, to avoid the, now inert, bits getting into the final drink. The filtering process should be repeated at least once more– the more it is filtered, the more the tincture will be improved and strengthened.
5. The green/brown colored tincture should be stored somewhere dark and cold. Most of the THC will have been absorbed within a week, but connoisseurs tend to leave it for a year or
6. The Cannabis tincture can be enjoyed neat or dissolved in a drink or in food.
One way to make a drinkable form of cannabis is to infuse it in a strong spirit to create a tincture (Marijuana in liquid form). They tend to taste bitter so a reasonably sweet drink with a high percentage of alcohol is recommended, such as fruit or peppermint schnapps. Try 1 part Cannabis to 3-5 parts alcohol, or follow the recipe below. Cannabis breaks down well in fats and oils, but it is also soluble in alcohol so a variety of Cannabis drinks can be made.
A tincture is an alcoholic extract of plant material and when prepared properly, a potent source of a plant’s essential constituents. As a method of using medicinal cannabis, it excels as the cannabinoids dissolve in alcohol or oily materials.
1. It is a good method of cannabis administration for non-smokers
2. Tinctures are very potent
3. When kept in cool darkness, tinctures have a long shelf-life because the alcohol acts as a preservative
4. A full spectrum of the plant’s active ingredients are made available
5. You can combine various strains to get exactly the right balance for your needs
6. Tinctures can be used discreetly wherever you might be.
7. Administered under the tongue, tinctures get into the system the fastest.
Ingredients and Equipment:
1. 4 oz. clean bud shake
2. Alcohol of your choice –80% or higher if possible (Vodka works well or 151 Rum)
3. 2 liters warm water
4. sieve (strainer)
5. Glass bowls
6. Dk. colored tincture bottles (with a dropper)
Cover the cannabis leaves with the water. Stir to ensure that all the leaves are wet. Cut or torn cannabis leaves can be used, it is just less work to keep them whole. Strain through the sieve– the green in the water is mostly chlorophyll so you can throw it away or you can save it and make a topical ointment. Place the still wet leaves into the glass bowl and cover with alcohol, giving it a quick stir to ensure all is mixed well and all the leaves are under the alcohol. Cover the bowl and put it somewhere dark (inside a cupboard is just fine) for 48 hours. Remove the cover and leave for the alcohol to evaporate by about fifty percent. This should take approximately 12 hours. Another quick stir then pour the mixture through your cheesecloth or coffee filters into a clean bowl. Wring all the liquid content out of the filter paper into the bowl. Pour the alcohol back through the leaves and repeat the wringing process. You should now have two cups of tincture, which can be further reduced by boiling if you wish. For those who cannot use alcohol: vinegar or glycerin (food grade) can be used.
Take your marijuana tincture as drops on or under the tongue, or by adding to recipes and drinks. Any conditions helped by medical marijuana will respond to this tincture but use it sparingly – it is extremely potent.
Glass jar- 1-quart Mason jar is ideal but any size will do.
Three parts ground marijuana. Leaf bud or shake.
Four parts high proof alcohol. Everclear or Vodka.
You can use whatever kind of clean glass, not plastic, jar you have with a tight lid. One-quart mason jars are ideal. Grind the herb thoroughly in a blender. It should be well ground but does not have to be a powder. You can use leaf, bud, shake. Leaf works fine but for higher potency use shake or bud. Fill the jar ¾ full of herb; it does not have to be exact. Use the highest proof alcohol you can. Everclear (180 proof). Use the highest proof Vodka you can find. Pour alcohol over the herb, filling the rest of the jar. Leave just enough space (an inch or so) at the top so that you will be able to shake the jar. Stir the mixture; the herb will absorb some of the alcohol so you may need to add more. Put the lid on tightly; label the contents and the date you started. It takes two weeks for the alcohol to extract all the active elements from the herb. Shake the jar once or twice a day for 2 weeks. The alcohol will rise to the top and a deep green/red color will develop. After two weeks of aging, you can strain the tincture into a small tincture bottle with a dropper. You can leave the rest in the jar if you want, it will age and mellow in flavor and you can strain off as much as you want at a time. Alcohol is a strong preservative it will hold for a long time. Dosage varies per individual but start with half a dropper dissolved in hot tea or water. CBD rich cannabis is usually best for true medical purposes (5-10 %). Romulan, Harlequin, Cannatonic are CBD rich.
Heat the ground bud to 350 degrees in the oven for 5 minutes. That drives off the THC and leaves the CBD. Cannabis put into a 302 degree oven for 5 minutes kills: microorganisms, mold, and fungi.
The benefit from smoking as a route of administration is instant action and the ability of the patient to self titrate the dose needed for relief. Here we describe how patients can achieve similar quick acting relief and the ability to control dose without smoking. It is important that the medical community understand that whole cannabis products are available today that provide significant relief without smoking. We do not have to wait for a pharmaceutical pill to be developed years in the future in order to have the benefits of cannabis. The present pill (Marinol) has proven very unsatisfactory due to a long delay of action time, poor absorption in the GI tract, and its failure to include many of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory cannabinoids present in whole plant extracts. In addition, future pharmaceuticals will be wildly expensive. Tinctures are not new. Until cannabis was banned in 1937, tinctures were the primary type of cannabis medicines. Tinctures are essentially alcohol extractions of whole cannabis (usually the flowers and trim leaves). Tinctures are easy to make and very inexpensive. Tinctures contain all eighty of the essential cannabinoids. Some of the cannabinoids such as cannibidiol (CBD) actually reduce the psychoactive effects of THC while increasing the overall efficacy of the preparation. The best way to use tinctures is sublingually (under the tongue).
Titration or dose control is easily achieved by the number of drops a patient places under the tongue where the medicine is rapidly absorbed into the arterial system and is quickly transported to the brain and body.
All patients need do with a tincture is use a few drops, wait for the desired medical effects, and either use more or stop as the situation indicates. Tinctures can be flavored for better taste. They are best stored in dark bottles in the refrigerator. Since tinctures average some seventy five percent ethanol, there is little worry of bacterial or other biological contamination. Those who wish to avoid alcohol can instead use their tincture as a base for making a concentrated elixir.
Tinctures are an extraction of active cannabinoids from plant material. Cannabis contains many chemicals that can either upset the stomach or taste nasty. One of the goals of extraction is to secure the cannabinoids while leaving out as many of the terpenes and chlorophylls as possible. Both heat and light adversely affect cannabinoids and should be avoided or minimized. Tincture should be stored in airtight dark glass containers kept at room temperature or cooler. Avoid plastic containers.
Here is the recipe for highest quality tincture. This method does not use heat so keeps the integrity of the cannabinoids intact.
1. Fill jar ¾ full of herb
2. Fill rest of jar with alcohol; leave some room at top, stir.
3. Shake jar [vigorously] one or two times a day for 2 weeks [or leave it until there is no green color left in the plant matter]
1. Chop the cannabis—more surface area means a faster and more efficient extraction. [You can literally chop it into a powder.]
2. Bake the cannabis (decarboxylate).
In whole-plant cannabis, THC content is expressed as THCA (tetrahydrocannabolic acid) prior to decarboxylation into THC, which takes place when cannabis is heated during cooking, smoking or vaporization. THCA is a mild analgesic and anti-inflammatory but does not have good affinity with our CB1 receptors, so in order to make a THC-rich tincture that has many of the same therapeutic effects as smoked ingestion (including rapid absorption, quick relief and ease of self-titration), we must convert the THCA in the plant matter into THC prior to extracting it through an alcohol soak.
THC vaporizes at about 380°F. We want to heat the cannabis to convert THCA to THC, but keep the temperature under 380°F. That is why 325°F is used. Between four and five minutes in your oven. Notice also that there is considerable misinformation regarding heating the cannabis. It is true that you do not have to heat it to extract both THC and THCA, but the amount of THC in whole plant preparations is relatively small compared to after decarboxylation of the THCA. If you want to maximize the strength of your tincture, you must heat the cannabis prior to extraction.
3. Use the highest proof alcohol available. The higher percentage the alcohol, the more efficient the extraction will be.
4. Simmer the mixture.
This is one of the areas that seem to be most debated. Many recipes call for placing the cannabis (unbaked of course) into the alcohol and waiting 2 – 6 weeks. The main concern with heating the alcohol is that it is “explosive” (not exactly true…it is however flammable). The purpose of the simmering is to heat the alcohol mixture to improve extraction rates and efficiencies. Heating during extraction increases the motion of the molecules (basic physics/chemistry) and drastically decreases extraction times. The boiling point of pure ethanol is 173°F (78°C). Use the water bath to heat the rum/cannabis mixture to just below the boiling point of ethanol. Heating the alcohol mixture can be done very safely using a hot water bath. You will need an accurate candy or quick read thermometer. Place about one to two inches of water in a pan (9 inch x 3 inch). Bring the water to a low simmer. The rum/cannabis mixture should be in a small (1 pint) mason jar. Do not cover the jar.
Put the thermometer into the Mason jar and place into the simmering water bath. Bring the temperature of the rum/cannabis mixture to about 165°F (maintain it between 150°F and 165°F). You want the alcohol mixture to be just barely moving (not boiling, but showing active convection within the mixture). If the mixture starts to bubble too much, just turn down the water bath. You should have the fan on high. You will notice that any alcohol fumes are mixed with water vapor from the water bath and vented out the fan. This combined with the fact that you are trying not to boil the ethanol makes the process quite safe.
5. Strain, titrate, and store.
When you are finished with the extraction, you will be left with about one ounce of tincture. Note that one ounce of the alcohol has evaporated. The liquid should be dark green and smell like cannabis. 1/8 ounce of good cannabis yields about (30-34) doses of tincture.