CBD Tinctures and How to Make Them

making cbd tinctures

There are a whole host of CBD products on the market, and when it comes to offering a quick and easy way to ingest CBD, CBD tinctures are an excellent option.

Read on to learn about CBD tinctures and how you can make your own at home.

What are CBD tinctures?

A CBD tincture is a liquid extract of the cannabis plant, that is taken orally as an herbal preparation to relieve chronic pain, balance mood and assist with sleep (1). CBD tincture contains cannabidiol (CBD), along with a host of other active constituents of the cannabis plant, such as cannabinoids, alkaloids, glycosides, minerals, phytonutrients and terpenes.

CBD tinctures are most commonly made from the industrial hemp plant, a strain of cannabis that has been bred to contain less than 0.3% THC. However, CBD tinctures can also be made from low-THC strains of the marijuana plant.

For many who suffer from chronic pain, tinctures are a preferred method of CBD ingestion because of the ease of use, long shelf life and speed of delivery. CBD tinctures are administered sublingually, by taking a small dose of the extract under the tongue. The CBD is absorbed promptly by the mucous membrane in the mouth into the bloodstream, delivering relief within 15 minutes.

CBD tinctures are easy to make at home—you won’t need a chemistry degree to make your own. Read on to learn just how easy it is to make your own CBD tincture. But first, let’s take a look at some of the distinctions between store-bought and homemade CBD tinctures.

Homemade versus commercial

What is a commercial CBD tincture?

A commercial CBD tincture is an herbal cannabis preparation that is manufactured by a commercial producer for public sale. Commercial CBD tinctures commonly contain CBD oil extracted from the hemp or marijuana plant via commercial extraction methods and must comply with strict standards for quality, efficacy, purity, and labeling.

What is a homemade CBD tincture?

A homemade CBD tincture is a CBD-infused herbal preparation that you can make yourself at home by dissolving plant material—such as the flower, leaves and stem of the hemp plant—into a liquid solvent, such as high-proof alcohol, or a non-alcoholic carrier liquid, such as coconut oil, olive oil or vegetable glycerine.

What are the differences between commercial and homemade?

When it comes to choosing between homemade versus commercial CBD oil tinctures, it is essential to note which route works better for your lifestyle. Commercial products offer convenience and purity, while DIY tinctures provide full control over potency and ingredients.

Purity

The significant difference between homemade versus commercial is purity. A commercial CBD oil tincture is more thoroughly filtered than a homemade concoction. Commercial producers are required to meet strict standards for purity and utilize sophisticated filtration processes to thoroughly remove solvent and contaminants from the cannabis extract.

Ingredients

With a homemade CBD tincture, you have the freedom to select the type of cannabis you wish to extract your CBD from—if you’d prefer to avoid THC, you can use industrial hemp. If you’re in a legal state and aren’t averse to the effects of THC, then you can make your extract from a high-CBD strain of marijuana.

You also have the choice of liquids to extract your CBD into. If you wish to go the traditional route, then you can select a quality, high-proof alcohol. If you are sensitive to alcohol and would prefer a non-alcoholic tincture, then you can make your CBD tincture using vegetable oil or vegetable glycerine as the solvent.

Potency

While it’s easy and convenient to purchase a CBD tincture online or from a store, making your own CBD tincture at home allows you to have full control over the concentration of CBD. By tweaking the amount of plant matter, or experimenting with different strains of cannabis, you can create your own signature CBD tincture with a potency that’s perfect for you.

Methods of making CBD tinctures

Making your own CBD tinctures at home is pretty easy, but before you get started, you’ll need to decide on the method that’s right for you.

The first thing to consider when deciding on your preferred method is the solvent.

Solvents

Alcohol

Traditionally, herbal tinctures are made with alcohol. Using alcohol as the solvent produces a potent CBD extract that is very quickly absorbed by the body when taken sublingually (under the tongue).

While the amount of alcohol you will consume when taking an alcohol-based CBD tincture is minimal, it still needs to be metabolized by the body. If you have a sensitivity to alcohol, or you dislike the flavor or mouthfeel of alcohol, you should consider non-alcoholic methods for making CBD tincture.

Vegetable oil

If you’d prefer to use a non-alcoholic base for your tincture, or find high-grade alcohol hard to source, then vegetable oil method is a popular alternative. This method is simple and accessible, as it uses ingredients that you’re likely to already have in your pantry, such as coconut, olive or sunflower oil.

CBD tinctures made from vegetable oil are ideal to add to food and drink. If you’re interested in making your own CBD edibles, then the vegetable oil method may be the best match for you.

Glycerine

Vegetable glycerin is a clear liquid commonly derived from soy, palm and coconuts. Its lipid structure makes it an ideal solvent to replace alcohol because the cannabinoids attach to the lipids during extraction.

Keep in mind that CBD tinctures made with vegetable glycerin—also known as glycerites (2)— tend to be lower in potency than alcohol-based CBD tinctures, but they’re a great alternative for people who prefer to avoid alcohol.

Steeping

Steeping describes the process of dissolving the plant extract into the solvent. That may sound complicated, but steeping is a fairly simple and familiar process. If you’ve ever made a cup of tea, you’ll understand that the tea leaves need to steep in water for a period of time for the flavors and tannins of the tea to infuse into the water.

There are two methods of steeping. The first is the traditional method of maceration. The second is the more modern method of percolation.

The decision between maceration and percolation depends on one important factor: time.

Traditional maceration – the slow and simple method

Maceration is the most traditional method of making a tincture and is ideal for beginners. Simply add plant material and solvent to an airtight jar, and leave to steep in a cool, dark place.

You’ll require patience with this method, as it takes at least six weeks for the CBD and phytonutrients of the cannabis plant to dissolve into your chosen solvent.

Percolation – the quick but complex method

If you’d prefer to speed up the extraction process, you can use the percolation method. As with maceration, plant matter and solvent are added to an air-tight jar. But instead of leaving your jar on a shelf to steep for a lengthy period, the jar is instead placed into a water bath and brought to simmer.

While percolation is a bit more complex than maceration, and requires some extra utensils, this method is an ideal way to cut down the steeping time if you need your CBD tincture in a hurry.

Ingredients for making your own

Now that you’ve decided on your preferred solvent and extraction method, it’s time to select your ingredients.

What ingredients do you need to make one?

The first and most important ingredient that you’ll need to make a CBD tincture is cannabis.

Cannabis

CBD tincture can be made from the flower, leaf and stem of the cannabis plant. It is common to make them from “trim” or “shake,” which is the surplus cannabis left over after harvesting the flower. Trim can be used alone or combined with flower as an affordable option.

As noted earlier, CBD tincture can be made from either industrial hemp or high-CBD strains of marijuana, which are different types of Cannabis plants.

Industrial Hemp

We recommend using industrial hemp for your homemade CBD tincture. This is because industrial hemp contains a high concentration of CBD, and less than 0.3% THC, so it won’t get you high or have any unwanted psychoactive effects.

Marijuana

If you don’t mind the effects of THC, and you’re located in a state where cannabis is legal, you may choose to make your homemade CBD tincture from marijuana. We recommend a high-CBD, low-THC strain of marijuana, such as Ringo’s Gift, Harlequin, or ACDC. This will limit the effect of the THC, and maximize the effect of CBD, while taking advantage of the ‘entourage effect’, which describes the synergistic relationship between these two cannabinoids.

Solvents

The next ingredient you’ll need is your solvent. As we discussed earlier, the solvent is the liquid component of your tincture, and is what the CBD is extracted into.

You can choose between alcohol, vegetable oil, or glycerin as your solvent.

Alcohol

For alcohol-based tinctures, you’ll need a high-proof alcohol that is 60-70% ethyl alcohol or ethanol. Everclear is a recommended source because of its high alcohol content, as is 151 Rum. You want to make sure that you are using food-safe alcohol that is not denatured.

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is probably the easiest solvent to source, as well as the most cost-effective. A wide range of vegetable oils can be purchased from the grocery store—in fact, you may already have the perfect vegetable oil in your pantry, ready to be made into a CBD tincture.

Not all vegetable oils are made equal when it comes to tinctures. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Liquid Coconut Oil: Cannabinoids rely on fatty acids as a binding agent, and since coconut oil is rich in fatty acids, it’s an ideal oil for your homemade CBD tincture. For tinctures, it is necessary to purchase liquid coconut oil, as coconut oil becomes solid at room temperature.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Olive oil is regarded worldwide as a healthy oil, rich in antioxidants and oleic acid. An added benefit of olive oil is that it is efficient in preserving terpenes from the cannabis plant, providing a whole-plant extract.
  • Sunflower Oil: Sunflower oil is an affordable option, with a milder flavor than coconut and olive oil. Sunflower Oil is well suited to percolation, as it has good thermal stability. Additionally, sunflower oil is high in lecithin, which helps to increase the shelf life of your tincture.
Glycerin

It’s important to note that not all glycerin is appropriate for human consumption. For a glycerin-based CBD tincture, be sure to purchase food-grade vegetable glycerin from a trusted, sustainable source.

Tools and supplies for making CBD tinctures?

What makes it so easy to make CBD tinctures at home is the fact that the tools and supplies required are regular household items.

Here’s what you’ll need to make a tincture via the traditional maceration method:

  • Mason jar
  • Cheesecloth or coffee filters
  • Glass bottle (amber or cobalt glass works best)
  • Baking tray
  • Parchment paper
  • Timer

If you’re making your tincture using the percolator method, you’ll also need:

  • Glass or metal bowl
  • Saucepan
  • Candy thermometer

How to decarboxylate your cannabis

Before you start infusing, you’ll need to decarb your cannabis. Don’t worry—this is a simple step that you can do in your kitchen.

Decarboxylation is the process of heating your cannabis at a specific temperature to activate the cannabinoids. In the case of CBD, decarboxylation (decarbing for short) transforms the inactive CBD-A cannabinoid of raw cannabis into active CBD.

  1. Preheat your oven to 240°F.
  2. With your fingers, break your cannabis into small chunks.
  3. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  4. Distribute the cannabis evenly onto the paper and place the tray into the oven.
  5. Allow the cannabis to toast for 20 minutes. Gently move the cannabis around with a wooden spoon so that it heats evenly. Put back into the oven.
  6. When the cannabis starts to look lightly toasted, it’s time to take it out of the oven. Hemp and high-CBD strains of marijuana generally take 60-90 minutes to decarb.
  7. Remove from oven and leave to cool.

Our favorite homemade CBD tincture recipes

Now that you’ve chosen your method and have your tools and ingredients assembled, you’re ready to make your own homemade CBD tincture!

Here are three simple recipes to get you started.

Traditional Alcohol CBD Tincture

  1. Fill half of the jar with decarbed cannabis.
  2. Fill the remaining half of the jar with high-proof alcohol.
  3. Close jar tightly and label the jar with the date.
  4. Leave the jar to steep in a cool, dark place.
  5. Let tincture steep. Agitate daily by shaking the jar gently.
  6. After six weeks, strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter into a large bowl.
  7. Funnel the filtered liquid into a glass bottle.
  8. Label and store in a cool, dry place.

Alcohol CBD Tincture – percolator method

  1. Half fill the jar with decarbed cannabis.
  2. Fill the remaining half of the jar with high-proof alcohol. Close jar tightly.
  3. Place the sealed jar in a water bath. Simmer for 20 minutes at 170° F.
  4. Remove the jar from the water bath and leave to cool.
  5. Once cool, strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter into a large bowl.
  6. Funnel the filtered liquid into a glass bottle.
  7. Label and store in a cool, dry place.

Note: Safety is advised when heating alcohol. As alcohol is highly flammable, it can be dangerous to use near an open flame. Always use caution when heating alcohol.

Non-alcoholic CBD tincture

  1. Half fill the jar with decarbed cannabis.
  2. Fill the remaining half of the jar with coconut oil or glycerine.
  3. Close jar tightly and label the jar with the date.
  4. Leave the jar to steep in a cool, dark place.
  5. Let tincture steep. Agitate daily by shaking the jar gently.
  6. After six weeks, strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter into a large bowl.
  7. Funnel the filtered liquid into a glass bottle.
  8. Label and store in a cool, dry place.

Tinctures have a long shelf life and can last for years when stored in a cool, dark location.

Serving sizes for CBD tinctures vary based on the individual. As with all CBD, we advise to start low and go slow. Start with 1ml of tincture, and increase as needed.

There you have it! You’re now armed with the basic know-how to make your own CBD tincture. If you feel confident enough, it’s time to make your first tincture. If you’d like just a bit more info before getting started, follow our blog for the latest in CBD information—including how to make CBD oil and how to make your own CBD edibles. Not feeling up to making your own tincture just yet? We’ve got a range of ready-made commercial tinctures on offer!

Frequently Asked Questions


What’s the best way to make your own?

Historically, CBD tinctures have been made using the traditional maceration method with an alcohol solvent. However, the ease of using tools and ingredients that you already have in your kitchen, and the time saved in waiting for the tincture to infuse, makes the percolation method using common vegetable oils an increasingly popular method.


What’s the easiest way to make your own?

Traditional maceration using a common vegetable oil, such as olive oil or coconut oil, is the easiest method of making CBD tinctures.


What’s the most reliable method?

While all of the methods detailed above are reliable as long as the instructions are followed correctly, the most reliable method is, of course, to buy a commercially-made CBD tincture.