How To Make Marijuana Tincture (Decarboxylation & Alcohol Extraction of THC and CBD)

800px-Apothecarybottles

9781476121598.225x225-75[Writer Glenn Panik's "How To Grow Cannabis At Home: A Guide To Indoor Medical Marijuana Growing", is available on iTunes here, for the Amazon Kindle or via  Smashwords here You can also order the 'stealth title' of our information-packed ebook for the Kindle here.]

For a variety of reasons, cannabis consumers may prefer not to smoke (or even vaporize) their marijuana in order to consume THC/CBD. The most obvious reason might be a breathing condition, such as asthma, but others may simply not enjoy the taste or smell of marijuana smoke, or may want to avoid smoking out of consideration for a roommate, family member, or pet!

Although baked goods are an excellent alternative for those who would rather hide the taste of cannabis completely while still enjoying all the benefits of THC & CBD, your stash will have a limited shelf life when baked into brownies or oatmeal cookies. Even chocolates will only remain fresh in flavor for a few weeks (although they may still be edible).

Enter extraction. By extracting the THC & CBD from your marijuana, you can create a tincture that will hold for a relatively long time – a full year is not an unreasonable expectation of shelf life if stored properly. Store the finished extract in a brown glass (light protected) bottle, and in a cool place. The tincture can be consumed directly by diluting it in water or another beverage, such as fruit juice, or a classic ‘bhang lassi’. You can also use the tincture in baking, taking some of the guesswork out of how strong your baked goods will be. (More on this in a moment)

The biggest advantage of creating a marijuana tincture is that you can learn to control the dosage more carefully than other methods of ingesting cannabis. You may have already had the experience of baking with marijuana, and have far under- or over-estimated the amount of marijuana bud you should use in the recipe. This may have led to a bummer experience, or far more heavy a dose than you expected! Even worse, sometimes the distribution is uneven in baked goods – one cookie leaves you with little more than a dry mouth, another sends your buddy off to Jamaica on a cloud of daydreams… Not fair!

With a tincture, you can easily self-titrate (that simply means “learn the dosage that works for you by testing it on yourself”). Simply start by ingesting 5-10 drops of prepared tincture in a half of a glass of water, and determine if that is the proper level of effectiveness for you. Allow up to an hour for it to work. If not, try again the following day (if you take more directly following the first dose, you may skew your results). Tincture strengths will vary significantly based on the initial strength and quantity of the marijuana and the extraction process itself, so be cautious. Luckily, neither the quantity of alcohol nor the quantity of THC you can consume in this way are dangerous for an otherwise healthy individual, but always consult your doctor before taking any medicine at all – herbal or otherwise.

First, the shopping list:

  • 1/2 ounce dried medicinal marijuana. We don’t recommend using fresh buds, as it makes it difficult to heat properly. You can halve/double/triple/etc. the recipe if you want to make more tincture in one go. Any strain at all will work, and the extract will, naturally, reflect the THC/CBD content of the marijuana used, thereby having a similar medicinal effect as other methods of consumption.
  • A high-alcohol spirit, preferably 70% alcohol or more, and without added flavors/extracts/sugar. We suggest “Everclear”, or “Bacardi 151″, or in Europe, there are varieties of pure distilled spirits (“Primasprit”, for example) of ten used for creating traditional fruit liqueurs. Some Russian vodkas also run up to 70% alcohol. Standard vodka/rum/etc is only about 40% alcohol, and is far less effective in extracting THC/CBD, as are any spirits that already have sugar or oils in solution (Absinth comes to mind). This MUST be consumable alcohol (ethanol)!
  • An oven with a fairly accurate and reliable temperature control. Beware of old gas ovens, which often have “hot spots”!
  • An oven-safe bowl, such as Pyrex or metal, preferably with a close-fitting top to help control odor while heating the cannabis for decarboxylation.
  • A mason jar or other sealable glass container (for extraction) with at least 2 cup (1/2 liter volume). BPA-free plastic (free of Bisphenol-A) is OK, too, just don’t use a plastic container for extraction if you unsure whether it is free of BPA or not. You don’t want to extract BPA into your tincture.
  • A funnel, a square of cheesecloth, and an additional glass to strain into - for filtering the plant material from the finished tincture.
  • Dropper bottles, preferably brown glass, with enough volume to store the finished tincture.

brown glass dropper

Creating A Marijuana Tincture Using Alcohol Extraction:

In the following steps, it is important to follow the suggestions for temperature, time, and volumes closely. The process by which THCA and CBDA (relatively inactive in humans) are converted to THC and CBD (the good stuff) is known as decarboxylation, and takes place at a lower temperature than THC turns into a gas and floats up and out your window. If you raise the temperature in an attempt to speed up the process, you’ll just be doing the birds a favor, not yourself! A word of warning: The early steps – heating the cannabis – will produce a very potent marijuana odor! If discretion is your goal, then consider finding a sealable, oven-safe container in which to heat the marijuana.

  1. Finely grind the marijuana. A standard blender works fine for this, although you can chop or crumble it as you see fit.
  2. Preheat your oven to 225 F (110 C). Do NOT exceed 300 F (150 C) to prevent letting your precious THC vaporize!
  3. Place the crumbled marijuana in the oven-safe container, and bake for 45 minutes. 30 minutes will often suffice, but if the container is rather thick-walled, it will take some time to come up to temperature.
  4. Remove the container from the oven and let it cool for 1/2 hour.
  5. Next, place the “baked” (decarboxylated) marijuana into the mason jar/glass, crumbling more if necessary. Gently pour in 1 cup of 70% grain spirits, and stir thoroughly.
  6. Seal the jar and shake it. You’ll notice a change in color almost immediately, and this will develop into a deep, almost black-hued green color over the next couple of days.
  7. Shake the jar containing the alcohol/cannabis mixture several times a day for at least two days. There’s no need to wait a week or more, THC is quite soluble in alcohol. The waiting time does allow all the bits of marijuana to become saturated and the THC to go into solution.
  8. Strain the alcohol/cannabis mixture through a funnel lined with cheesecloth and into a large enough receiving jar. Ball up the cheesecloth and squeeze out more of the solution – waste not!
  9. Transfer the tincture into brown glass dropper bottles for storage and dosing. If you can’t get dropper bottles, just brown medicine glass bottles will do – the brown glass helps prevent light from degrading the tincture.
  10. Store the finished tincture in a cool place away from strong light sources for maximum shelf life.

After creating and testing your alcohol-extracted cannabis tincture, you have a convenient way of measuring and consuming the right amount of this healthful medicine in liquid form. You can also easily create an even distribution of THC/CBD in your baked goods by stirring a measured amount of the tincture into the liquid ingredients, just as you would use vanilla or rum extract/flavor in traditional baking; same methods, same recipes, new effect!

Thanks for visiting our blog – If you’re missing the most important ingredient on the list above – high quality, organically grown medical marijuana - then order Glenn Panik’s well-written for beginning growers, “How To Grow Cannabis At Home: A Guide To Indoor Medical Marijuana Growing” available on iTunes here, for the Amazon Kindle or via  Smashwords here. (Smashwords provides you with all the formats in one; Kindle, iBooks, PDF, etc.)

To get a feel for the style of the book, read more cannabis growing tips and techniques in our blog.

Best Regards,

Glenn Panik

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

28 responses to “How To Make Marijuana Tincture (Decarboxylation & Alcohol Extraction of THC and CBD)”

  1. Lynn Usner says :

    can you please mail me your recipe for cbd? I have niece with lennox gastaut syndrome!! we need help because pa. does not recognize her needs for this!!

    • glennpanik says :

      Hi Lynn,
      CBD (Cannabidiol) is a compound that is produced by the cannabis plant, and can’t be made with a recipe (barring a serious pharmaceutical lab), but is rather extracted from mature marijuana flowers. You have to start out with some CBD-rich marijuana buds, and follow the extraction method detailed in the article.

  2. ryan says :

    Rick simpson hemp oil made with naptha is far better than tinctures. these thc contents are super low in thc concentraition. Rick simpson oil is 95-98% decarboxylated THC

    • glennpanik says :

      Thanks for the comment. Hemp oil would certainly (and by definition) be far more concentrated than an alcohol-extraction tincture. Tinctures like this recipe have the added benefit of being made from all food-grade ingredients. I would be cautious about recommending Naptha extractions to those with limited experience – the fumes are dangerous in several ways. Tincture also has the benefit of being easy to dose, due to the lower concentration of THC/CBD/etc. Although every tincture will vary, I find a useful dose made from this recipe (of course dependent upon the strength of the cannabis used in the recipe) to be 20-30 drops. An easy dosage, using all food-grade materials and an easy-to-perform extraction. cheers, GP

  3. Tom M. says :

    I misread your recipe and used 1 cup of 95% grain ethanol with about 1/5 oz high quality cannabis. What’s the best and quickest way to concentrate it?

    • glennpanik says :

      Hi Tom,
      The best way to concentrate it, and remove some of the sting of that high-proof alcohol at the same time will be to evaporate off some of the alcohol. Since alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water boils (your 95% pure ethanol will begin to evaporate at around 175 F/80 Celsius) you can do this without risking harm to your tincture if evaporating the alcohol out using a water bath. Just put your cannabis extract in a wide-mouthed glass jar and place this in a larger bowl or pot. Boil some water, and pour this water into the larger bowl, so that the hot water now surrounds the jar with the extract (but obviously not enough to get in and dilute it further!). Now stir the alcohol-based extract in the jar steadily to help it heat up and evaporate off some of the alcohol. I don’t suggest heating the jar of extract directly in a water bath/pot on the stove, since the glass could crack and ruin your extract. You don’t need to reduce it down to, say 1/8 cup or similar – even reducing by 1/3 or 1/2 is fine – I suggest diluting the extract with water for consumption, which doesn’t affect potency at all. Work slowly and carefully – those are precious drops! best regards, Glenn Panik

  4. Cam Earl says :

    Just read you recipe for making a tincture. You said don’t heat the MM to high or you will lose the THC. Well I just want to keep the CBD. Is it possible to do that thru heating it and keep the CBD and cook off the THC?

    • glennpanik says :

      Thanks for writing. I’ll have to look into the relative evaporation temperatures of THC vs. CBD. Both being cannabinoids, however, I am guessing that the evaporation points will be so close as to make this difficult to do without a properly equipped laboratory. Since CBD tends to moderate the effects of THC, I would instead recommend seeking out a cannabis strain that is relatively high in CBD in comparison to THC. In this way you’ll have the positive effects of CBD while not getting so many of the “high” effects that typically high THC/low CBD strains produce. Best regards, Glenn Panik

    • glennpanik says :

      I just checked up on the boiling point of THC vs. that of CBD. The interesting news is that THC boils (and therefore could be evaporated away) at 157 °C (315 °F) whereas CBD boils at 180 °C (356 °F). Now this is of course in theory, and under ideal conditions. Even if you heated your cannabis to 320 or 330°F, you might have “hot spots” in your oven as the heat kicks on and off to maintain temperature which exceed 360°F, and therefore evaporate your CBD as well! Beyond that, a lot of the vegetable matter in marijuana buds could begin to combust, or sugars caramelize, etc. as the temperature fluctuates. This would cause off flavors at the very least. Unless you have lab conditions in which to pull this off, I’d suggest you stick with a high-CBD strain, and let the CBD take care of the physiological effects of THC, as it naturally does. A strain with 3-5% CBD to 5-10% THC would be considered “high CBD”. Best regards, Glenn Panik

      • Dan says :

        Wiki says the boiling point of thc is 250c (482f). The temp you say for cbd is correct. I never bake over 315f.

  5. Mrs T says :

    I have read that it’s possible to use ethanol as a solvent to create concentrated cannabis oil by using a water distiller to reclaim the evaporated alcohol. The distiller is used instead of a rice cooker as shown in various online videos. The last part of the alcohol is evaporated off in a container on a cup heater. I believe that rinsing bud in ethanol will collect the THC crystals but how is the CBD collected?

    • glennpanik says :

      Hi,

      That’s correct, whether using ethanol, naptha or other solvents, the solvent can be removed (must be, in the case of naptha!) leaving the “cannabis oil” behind. I think it is a good idea to reclaim the solvents if possible. I have often seen recipes that recommend boiling away gallons of solvents outdoors to create cannabis oil – what a waste and unnecessary air pollution. By using a water distiller, you could reclaim the alcohol, but be aware of the fire hazard; the process is in effect the same as moonshining! Alcohol vapors are easily ignited and can cause a serious explosion in an enclosed space. For this reason, I recommend the fool-proof “alcohol extraction” recipe above; the alcohol itself is never heated, so there is no danger of causing a fire. If you are experienced in chemistry, or distilling, for that matter, alcohol extraction and concentration should be a breeze, and you won’t have the strange feeling of having treated a consumable with naptha!

    • Dan says :

      The CBD like THC is dissolved in the ethanol. I use a distillation column personally and not a rice cooker. I haven’t done this but I’d imagine once you have your CBD/THC ethanol solution you could then further refine it isolating just THC or CBD by something like this: you’d first have to distill off all the ethanol, maybe add a few ml of water to raise the boiling point to drive it harder. Then cut back in with a lightweight oil. CBD boils off at 356-360F I believe and THC is a lot higher. You would do the distillation process again with oil and higher temps. The CBD would come over first…keep your eye on the temp, once it’s out if range switch receivers to collect THC. This is a crude and not exact way without knowing the exact boiling points or working with pure reagents.

  6. momo says :

    I recently tried an extraction using Master Wu’s recipe here http://boards.cannabis.com/concentrates/82380-definitive-green-dragon-revised-updated-combined.html

    -and had terrible results: four dropperfuls of tincture taken in three hours with no noticeable effect. I’m frustrated about the waste of bud.

    I’m trying to make a very concentrated tincture/ extract for someone who has severe, persistent nausea- they have been unable to eat/ keep down edibles made with butter (the quantity of buttery food/ flavor of the butter is too much for them to handle), and would be unable to dose themselves with a volume of alcohol measured in “shots.” Do you think your method can produce something concentrated enough to be taken in drops, sublingually? Or is dosage on the scale of ounces? (I know it varies depending on plant material, but can you ballpark it for me?)

    • glennpanik says :

      Hi, thanks for writing.

      Try following our recipe. Do allow a bit more time in the oven, as per our instructions, just in case the evaporation of moisture from the vegetable matter prevents the mass of cannabis from reaching proper temperature for decarboxylation. It is also critical to use at least 70% ethanol or better – THC, CBD, & co. are not water soluble, and the remaining portion of consumable spirits is mostly water, which prevents the good stuff from going into solution! While the marijuana is in the alcohol, don’t forget to shake the mixture regularly. Keep it on a coutertop where you’ll remember to give it a good shake whenever you pass by. Do this for a few days to be sure, and you should have a fine tincture. Beyond this, the quality of the marijuana you use will of course make a difference, and the more potent the herb that goes in, the more potent the tincture will be.

  7. Byron G. Carter says :

    I really enjoyed reading about making a tincture out of Marijuana, I’m into herb’s. And I’m going to try to make an Herbal Marijuana Tincture. Is it possible to email the directions on making a Medicinal Marijuana Tincture, to me so I can have it at my fingertips, anytime I’m ready to make the Tincture ? … Thanks, sincerely . Byron Carter …………………….

  8. Greg Gallacci says :

    Hi,
    Tried this the other day, good result.
    3.2 grams Sour Diesel, dried, powdered.
    Heat 1/2 fl. oz. vegetable glycerin to 375 F, stir in herb in small (1/8 tsp.) increments. Will foam up a bit.
    Stir for another 5 minutes after last herb added.
    Herb should be getting dark.
    Strain WHILE STILL HOT through 70 micron stainless steel mesh.
    Take solids from strainer, mix into another 1/2 fl. oz. glycerin at 375 F.
    Cook, repeat straining.
    Combine liquids, allow to cool; dark brown-orange milky looking product.
    MUCH thicker that pure glycerin.
    1 eyedropper is usually enough for relaxing, two is fun. Three? Don’t go to work.
    Theory sez THC ‘vapes at 370 F, catch vapors in a liquid. Seems to work!
    Liquid ‘vape!

    • Penny Markle says :

      Greg Gallacci
      I thought THC burns off at 370 F and CBD burns off at 360 but you heat your oil to 375 F? Would that not kill all the benefits? I’m new to all this Oil, Tinctures. I’m researching as much as I can before trying any recipe.

      • glennpanik says :

        Hi – Please review step 2 in preparation:
        “Preheat your oven to 225 F (110 C). Do NOT exceed 300 F (150 C) to prevent letting your precious THC vaporize!”
        I don’t recommend 375 degrees anywhere in the article, which would, as you note, likely vaporize your hard-earned THC. Cheers, GP

  9. Danny says :

    How long should it cool/absorb before you try it?

  10. joseph Ramirez says :

    So if this extraction Is made will it work for food or can u smoke the oil ?

    • glennpanik says :

      The extraction is fine for food, just keep in mind the alcohol content if using in uncooked foods. When baking, etc. then the alcohol will evaporate!

  11. Bob says :

    Thanks for the article! Recently reading about this, I’ve noticed there is a lot of mixed information out there:

    One example they took an oz of naturally dried herb and just shook it in a 70%+ solution, for 3 minutes, then strained. Stating that this was in fact sufficient to extract what was needed – while saying decarboxlation & soaking for longer durations wasn’t needed?

    They didn’t decarboxylate, which as I understand is vital to change THCa/CBDa into THC/CBD, which can then be exctracted with a solution.

    Also, if you went thru the whole process but your tincture ended up too weak, can I confirm, but using a warm bath to get the tincture upto 80C, will evaporate the alcohol but none of the ingredients you want to keep? Therefore, by adding another step at the end to further refine the tincture you could make a more potent liquid? Or would it start to be come tar? I assume there is a middle ground.

    Is there a best practicel for getting this into your system? Under the tongue burns a little some say, but I assume its the best place due to a thinner membrane allowing it to enter the bloodstream?

    Sorry last question. I’ve heard people say they get a different feeling from tinctures vs vaporizer vs inhaling combustion. Why is that?

    I would love to never smoke it again, but am weary this method may have a lower yield & effect. But appreciate it might also be a craft that requires dedication

    • glennpanik says :

      Hi Bob,

      Glad you enjoyed the article.
      Yes, decarboxlation is important for the tincture since the human body has receptors for THC/CBD &co, and not for the THCa/CBDa as you noted. As mentioned in the article, a tried and true method is slow oven heating at the noted temperatures – never in a microwave or toaster oven, since some spot temperatures will be much higher and “smoke” your herb for you!
      If you crumble the cannabis very fine, alcohol extraction will happen quicker, but I still recommend at least an overnight soak and frequent shaking to be sure that the plant material becomes fully saturated and more THC/CBD goes into solution. Additionally, you should keep in mind that 80 proof alcohol (40% alcohol by volume) is still 60% water, and THC/CBD are NOT water soluble! So get the highest % ethanol you can find for extraction, and dilute it to a more consumable % afterwards.
      Once prepared, the tincture can be simply diluted in a glass of water and consumed – this will not make it less potent. Some people find that sublingual (under the tongue) drops with high % ethanol is uncomfortable, and could irritate the gums. The tincture can also be used in baking or (if you want to go through the trouble) evaporated off into hemp oil and vaporized, ingested, etc.
      Hope that helps!

      best regards

      GP

  12. scott says :

    I got some and it burns when I put under my tongue why is this

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: