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Cannabis Tinctures 101: What Are They, How to Make Them, and How to Use Them

What is a Cannabis Tincture?

Cannabis tinctures, also known as green or golden dragon, are alcohol-based cannabis extracts – essentially, infused alcohol. In fact, tinctures were the main form of cannabis medicine until the United States enacted cannabis prohibition. With a name like “green dragon,” you might think cannabis tinctures are not for the faint of heart, but they’re actually a great entry point for both recreational and medical users looking to ease into smokeless consumption methods.

How to Dose and Use Cannabis Tinctures

Cannabis tincture bottles

Tincture dosages are easy to self-titrate, or measure. Start with 1mL of your finished tincture and put it under your tongue. If you’re happy with the effects, you’re done. Otherwise, try 2mL the next day and so on until you find the volume you’re happy with (ramp up slowly while testing your desired dosage so you can avoid getting uncomfortably high).

According to The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook, tinctures will last for many years when stored in a cool, dark location. When combined with easy self-titration, the long shelf life means you can make larger quantities of tinctures at once and have a convenient, accurate way to ingest cannabis.

Compared to the traditional cannabis-infused brownie, tinctures are a low calorie alternative. If you make your tincture with 190-proof alcohol, you’re looking at about 7 calories per mL. Unless you have an extremely weak tincture, you’ll easily stay under your typical brownie’s 112 calorie count (and let’s face it, your brownies are probably far more caloric than that).

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Tinctures can be incorporated after cooking into all sorts of meals and drinks:

  • Juices
  • Ice creams and sherbets
  • Soups
  • Gelatin
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Salad dressing

I recently added some cannabis tincture to my homemade chicken tikka masala for a delicious infused dinner.

Chicken tikka masala infused with cannabis tincture

How to Make Cannabis Tinctures

Homemade cannabis tincture in a mason jar

If you don’t have a full-featured kitchen or just prefer simple, mess-free preparation techniques, cannabis tinctures are a great DIY project. At a minimum, you can make a tincture with a jar, alcohol, a strainer, and cannabis products. That’s all you need!

Depending on your available time, equipment, and risk tolerance, you’ll prefer some recipes over others. All of the below recipes have been tried by yours truly and have been confirmed to work. Pick whichever one seems most convenient to you!

Traditional Green Dragon Tincture Recipe

Green dragon cannabis tincture

If you’ve heard about green dragon before reading this article, this is probably the recipe you’re most familiar with.

  1. Decarboxylate your flower or extract (if you’re using flower, grind it to a fine consistency)
  2. Mix your flower or extract in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol (preferably Everclear)
  3. Close the jar and let it sit for a few weeks, shaking it once a day
  4. After a few weeks, filter it with a coffee filter and start with a small dose of 1mL to assess potency
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Master Wu’s Green Dragon Tincture Recipe

Making cannabis tincture in a water bath

This guide was first published in 2006 on cannabis.com and is one of the most comprehensive tincture recipes available online, with detailed instructions and excellent tips and tricks. Master Wu’s recipe differs from the traditional method in that it uses heat to speed up the extraction and concentration process. Unlike the traditional method, you’ll be finished with this recipe in an evening. Below you’ll find an abridged summary of the technique.

  1. Decarboxylate your flower or extract (if you’re using flower, grind it to a fine consistency)
  2. Mix your flower or extract in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol (preferably Everclear)
  3. Simmer the jar in a water bath for 20 minutes at 170 degrees F
  4. Strain the mixture and store
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Modern Green Dragon Tincture Recipe

Homemade cannabis tincture mixture

If you’re following some of the latest developments in online tincture recipes, you may have heard of the following recipe which sounds too good to be true, but many people (including myself) are having great results with it.

  1. Decarboxylate your flower or extract (if you’re using flower, grind it to a fine consistency)
  2. Mix your flower or extract in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol (preferably Everclear)
  3. Shake for 3 minutes
  4. Strain the mixture and store

Cannabis Tincture FAQs

Find ground cannabis used to make tinctures

How do I take my tincture?

Tinctures are usually taken by putting a few drops under your tongue (sublingually). When taken this way, the arterial blood supply under your tongue rapidly absorbs the THC. That being said, you can always swallow the tincture in a drink or food, but it will be absorbed slower by your liver.

How fast is the onset?

When dosing a tincture sublingually, expect to feel the effects in 15-45 minutes and reach your peak high at about 90 minutes. If you simply drink the dose, expect a slower onset that more closely resembles traditional edibles.

How long will I feel the effects of a cannabis tincture?

Expect to be high longer than when you smoke or vaporize, but shorter than when you eat a butter or oil-based edible.

Have more questions?

Ask them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to get them answered for you!