In this post, you will learn what a cannabis tincture is, the benefits of making your own tincture at home, what tinctures are used for, and how to make a traditional cannabis tincture recipe with alcohol at home, oftentimes called The Green Dragon.
Let's Make The Green Dragon
If you'd like to incorporate cannabis into your cannabis regimen, there are a few easy ways to get started, including using a cannabis tincture.
While you may commonly hear the word tincture in reference to oil-based 'tinctures' or freezer tinctures, this post is specifically dedicated to a long soak, alcohol-based cannabis tincture called 'the Green Dragon'.
Read on to learn more about what exactly this cannabis tincture is and how you can make it at home.
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What Is A Tincture?
Let's start by looking at what a tincture is.
Tinctures are extracts made by soaking the leaves, bark, or roots of herbs in a solvent like alcohol.
The liquid pulls out the active compound in the plants, dissolving them and concentrating them.
When it comes to cannabis tinctures, the alcohol is used to extract the active ingredients, including cannabinoids like CBD and THC, and terpenes from the plant material.
Tinctures are usually stored in glass bottles with a dropper, making a tincture a more accurate way to dose and easy to consume.
How To Use A Tincture
When taken under the tongue, sublingually, you'll feel the effects quite quickly, within 15-20 minutes.
When swallowed, orally, it may take up to 2-4 hours for the full effects to be felt.
Another common use for tinctures is to create edible cannabis recipes.
Because tinctures are so easily measured, you can add a precise amount to any dish without greatly affecting the final flavor.
It's easy to test out the exact amount needed to feel the effects and find the minimum effective dose (MED), so you don't use too much.
It's important to remember that cannabis works differently for each person, so it's important to try a few different strains and dosages to find out what works best for you.
If you want to gauge the effectiveness of a tincture, start with a small dosage, and then increase drop by drop until you feel the effects.
The Benefits Of A Tincture
Tinctures are a preferred method of consuming cannabis because they are easy to make at home, and can be consumed in a variety of ways.
And unlike smoking cannabis flowers, tinctures don't have a smell once they're made, so they are more discreet and easy to use in public.
In addition, you don't need any special equipment to make or consume a tincture.
You can more precisely measure the amount of cannabis you'll be dosing with a dropper, while cannabis flower and baked goods are notoriously difficult to measure.
Smoke or vapor can be harsh or unpleasant for some people, which means tinctures are great alternatives.
And, when taken sublingually, it has a very fast onset, so you can quickly tell whether or not you'll need to take more to feel the effects.
Different Ways To Make A Cannabis Tincture
You can scour the internet and find hundreds of different ways and methods to make a cannabis tincture.
There is no one right way to make a tincture, and in fact, several ways different ways are often shared in my Well With Cannabis Facebook Community.
There are many methods and ways to achieve the same result in successfully making a cannabis tincture.
This long-soak, Green Dragon cannabis tincture is one of two tincture recipes I have here on the blog.
I also have a QWET Tincture, also known as a freezer tincture or 'the Golden Dragon'.
Below you will find a basic, beginner-friendly cannabis tincture recipe.
Long Soak Tincture vs. QWET Freezer Tincture
A traditional cannabis tincture like this one involves combining cannabis flowers and alcohol in a vessel and letting them sit and steep for a prolonged period of time, with no freezing required.
I’ve seen traditional tinctures steep anywhere between a few hours to up to 4-6 months or longer in some cases.
Fans of the traditional tincture prefer this method because it is believed that the longer soak times help extract a full spectrum of plant compounds, resulting in a complete full-extract cannabis oil after the alcohol is evaporated.
In contrast, the QWET tincture combines frozen cannabis flowers and frozen alcohol for only 15 minutes, often called a ‘wash’ or ‘wash times.’
Compared to a traditional tincture, this quick wash freezer method produces a much lighter colored tincture with a much more mild cannabis taste that many people prefer.
The traditional long-soak tincture is generally preferred by some due to the belief that a more complete plant extract that includes more plant compounds like chlorophyll and terpenes produces a more medicinal final product.
Neither one is right or wrong, it is a matter of personal preference.
Feel free to experiment with it, adapt and adjust your method as you go along, and learn more about your own personal preferences.
What One Is More Potent?
I ran my own lab tests to compare the traditional Green Dragon cannabis tincture to this Golden Dragon QWET tincture, and the results are posted here.
According to the results, the Green Dragon long soak tincture method produces a more potent tincture.
The results suggest that the longer the soak, the more potent the final product.
However, this method also produces a stronger tasting tincture with more residual plant matter like chlorophyll.
This leaves you, the consumer, with the decision of choosing potency over taste.
As with all things cannabis, I always recommend to go low and start slow when experimenting with trying a new product.
Be Sure To Decarboxylate First
This means that, for the compounds in cannabis to be active, like CBD and THC, they need to be heated with low temperatures over a period of time.
So the first step to making a successful cannabis tincture involves decarboxylating the plant matter.
Cannabis Strain Recommendations
Your cannabis tincture can only be as strong as the cannabis flower you’re starting with.
High-grade buds are going to be more potent than trim or shake, but less potent than kief.
Keep this in mind as you choose what strain and how much cannabis to use.
You can also make a CBD alcohol tincture using CBD dominant flower.
If you cannot access high proof alcohol, 151 proof will work as well, although it is not as strong of a solvent.
You will not achieve the same results with lower proof alcohol like vodka or rum.
I do not recommend using any alcohol that is not graded as food-safe such as isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol).
Your cannabis alcohol tincture will no doubt be strong and likely burn.
Depending on your desired final outcome, you will want to evaporate off some of the alcohol to have a more concentrated tincture.
How much alcohol you evaporate off will depend on the type of final product you want, but many people typically evaporate off anywhere from 50-100% of the alcohol.
If you evaporate off all of the alcohol, you will be left with full-extract cannabis oil (FECO), a powerful concentrated cannabis extract.
*Warning: Combining high-proof alcohol with open flames can be extremely dangerous.
Before attempting any type of alcohol evaporation, ensure you are being safe.
Proper ventilation, no open flames, and common sense go a long way*
There are many different ways to evaporate off the alcohol, some safer than others.
The most simple way is to let the tincture sit out without a cover to let the alcohol evaporate away naturally over time.
You can also follow the instructions here on how to make full-extract cannabis oil with complete instructions for evaporating the alcohol off in a mini-crockpot.
How to Determine The Dosing
While a calculator is no replacement for lab testing, this tool has been designed to help you get a more accurate guesstimate of the potency of your cannabis infusions and extractions.
What To Make With A Cannabis Tincture
Once you have your cannabis tincture prepared, you can use it in many different types of recipes.
Our most popular recipes to use a cannabis tincture include:
- Easy, Delicious and Versatile Cannabis Sugar
- Cannabis Gummies Made with Tincture or FECO/RSO
- Cannabis cocktails like our Red Wine Cannabis Sangria
- Hot drinks like Cannabis Coffee or Cannabis Tea
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Cannabis Alcohol Tincture Recipe (Green Dragon)
- If you haven't already, decarboxylate your cannabis by baking it in a 240° F oven for 40 minutes. Click here for a full tutorial on cannabis decarboxylation, if needed.
- Place the decarboxylated cannabis flower at the bottom of a pint-sized mason jar.
- Pour the Everclear alcohol over the cannabis flower. You only need to add enough alcohol to completely cover the plant matter*.
- Screw the cap tightly and shake gently.
- Place the mason jar in a cool, dark location like a cupboard or closet and leave it to infuse for 24-hours. Shake occasionally.
- After 24 hours, strain the cannabis tincture through a coffee filter or cheesecloth into a clean mason jar, separating the plant-matter from the alcohol.
- You now have a cannabis tincture. You can choose to evaporate off as much alcohol as desired.