When it comes to consumption methods, cannabis bud and oils often steal the spotlight from one of the oldest forms of cannabis medicine: tinctures.

Before prohibition, cannabis tinctures were one of the most popular pain-relievers and listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia until 1942.

The age-old extraction process is relatively simple: soak the dried cannabis bud or leaf trim in a nearly pure alcohol solution in a jar for a few weeks. When done correctly, cannabis tinctures are an efficient and discreet way to medicate, and — when properly stored — can last for years.

Recently, Kait spoke with culinary cannabis artist John Bell to walk us through the process, ingestion and storage.

John, who has a background as a measurements coordinator, also provided us with his formula to more accurately calculate the potency of your homemade tincture, oil or butter. You can find the interactive calculator here. But first, check out Kait’s interview with John below.

Kait: How much dried cannabis flower do I need to make a tincture?

John: There is no real definitive answer to this question. Since we are determining the THC/CBD concentration in the tincture by the strength of the cannabis and the ratio of cannabis to solvent, we must first decide how much tincture we want to produce, and the desired concentration.

For example, if you want a concentration of 10 mg of THC per one ml. of tincture, you could use one gram of 15% THC decarboxylated cannabis in 15 ml (1 Tbsp) of solvent. Using 28 grams of the same cannabis in 420 ml of solvent will achieve the same result. So, the quantity of cannabis is determined by the volume of tincture you would like to produce and the desired concentration.

What do I use as a solvent or carrier?

The most common solvent used is alcohol (AKA ethyl alcohol or ethanol). For those looking to avoid alcohol, vegetable glycerin (glycerol) is a good alternative. The best solvent is 190 proof grain alcohol (Everclear), which is 95% alcohol. A high-proof vodka, brandy or rum can also be used. These can all be found at local liquor stores. Most natural health food stores carry vegetable glycerin.

Do I take with a teaspoon or syringe?

Tolerances vary from person to person, so dosages should be determined by trying small amounts and working up to a dosage which provides the desired effect.

How long until onset?

If ingested with food or simply swallowed, onset will be similar to most edibles – about 45 minutes to an hour. If taken sublingually (under the tongue), effects can be felt in 10 to 15 minutes. When administered sublingually, the medicinal compounds are absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the sublingual tissues as opposed to ingestion where the compounds are absorbed through the digestive system.

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How long will effect last?

Generally, effects are longer lasting through ingestion than sublingual administration. (The effects from edibles can last six to 10 hours.)

Should I store the tincture in a fridge?

It is not necessary to refrigerate tinctures. They should be stored in a dark container and kept in a cool dark place. Alcohol-based tinctures keep almost indefinitely.

Do I have to decarboxylate the cannabis flower beforehand?

Yes! Unless you are looking to make a tincture that is concentrated THCA or CBDA (the acid forms of THC and CBD. THCA is non-psychoactive and converts to THC when decarboxylation).

Do I need specialized equipment to do this?

Not really.Tinctures can be made in a mason jar over a few weeks. The process can be sped up considerably by introducing heat (hours compared to weeks). Rice cookers, slow cookers and sous vide water ovens are safe and effective tools.

The MagicalButter Machine is the easiest method. A batch of tincture can be made in four or eight hours depending on the intensity of flavour desired. One important note: alcohol is highly flammable so avoid open flames as a heat source when making alcohol-based tinctures.

Stay tuned for Kait and John’s in-depth discussion on cannabis tinctures in an upcoming episode of the Cannabis Show.

— Kait Shane, Director of Community Outreach Natural Health Services. Follow Kait on Twitter @Medikait.

For further insight into all things cannabis, don’t forget to check out The Cannabis Show (new episodes every Wednesday) and connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. The Cannabis Show is also available as an audio podcast, subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Overcast.

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