How to Brew Cannabis Tinctures (Eyedroppers Full of Happiness)

Now that you're good and deafened from last night's Independence Day celebrations, it's time to do something productive with your recovery day—like, say, brewing alcohol-derived cannabis concentrates that will have you melting into your couch all day tomorrow.

What is a Tincture?

Unlike Cold Water Press or Bubble Hash, which respectively rely on cold temperature and butane to extract the active THC molecules, tinctures utilize alcohol extraction. THC actually starts off in the plant as THCA (tetrahydrocannabolic acid) and usually must be heated to convert the THCA molecules into active THC, but the same effect can be achieved using an alcohol bath to dissolve the THC present within the plant matter.

What you're left with after these methods? Highly concentrated iquid TCH, consumed a few drops at a time, making your weekend that much more wonderful.

What You'll Need

  • Herb Grinder or Food Processor
  • 1 Quart bowl
  • Mesh strainer
  • Cheese cloth
  • Kitchen scale
  • Quart canning jar with lid
  • Dark tint tincture bottles with droppers
  • Paper coffee filters
  • 1 ounce of buds or stemless shake per quart of alcohol
  • The highest proof alcohol you can get your hands on. It should be at least 90 proof, though 151 or Everclear is preferable.

How To Do It

Derek Butt's Small Batch Preview Method

This method is fast—tinctures can be produced in as little as an hour—and uses only small amounts of precursor but comes at the expense of potency. Still, it's a great way to go if you want to try tinctures but don't want to gamble an ounce of bud on it.

  1. Thoroughly dry and grind 4 grams of bud and/or trimmings.
  2. Bake the plant matter at 240 degrees in an oven-safe dish for 20-30 minutes to decarboxylate it.
  3. Submerge the plant matter in 2 ounces of high-proof alcohol, stir, and cover tightly so that the evaporating alcohol cannot escape.
  4. Let sit 2 - 3 hours in a cool, dark spot. The longer it sits, the more potent it becomes. However, the longer it sits, the more chlorophyll it will also draw out which turns the tincture a greenish hue.
  5. Stir the brew again, then funnel through a double-thick layer of cheese cloth, collecting the liquid tincture in a receptacle.
  6. Pour the liquid through the cheesecloth a second time, again capturing it in a vessel for later consumption. Be sure to wring out the cheesecloth. Bottle the tincture in opaque (or at least brown or blue tinted) bottles as soon as possible to avoid exposing it to light.

The Cold Brew Method

This method of making tincture freezes the plant matter in an effort to maintain the integrity of the cannabinoids and maximizes the tincture potency. To that end, this method works best if you use a high-quality starting material—ditch weed isn't going to cut it, sorry.

  1. Place your well-dried and decarboxylated (see above) buds and trimmings (they should be joint-roll dry, crisp and crackling when handled but not entirely dessicated) into a freezer bag and pop them in the cold box for a couple hours. While you're at it, toss your bottle of alcohol in there too. Both plant matter and alcohol must be kept as cold as possible during this process.
  2. Once the buds are frozen stiff, pull them out of the freezer and grind them into rough chunks in the food processor or weed grinder.
  3. Mix 1 ounce of shredded plant matter (feel free to toss in a bit of kief as well, if you have any) and 1 Quart of alcohol sufficiently large mason jar.
  4. Close the jar and shake vigorously—at least 5 minutes—before returning the jar to the freezer.
  5. Every few hours over the next 48, pull the jar out the freezer and give it a shake.
  6. Once two days has passed, strain out the plant matter from the cold liquid tincture through a double-thick piece of cheesecloth and save it for consumption. Squeeze out any excess liquid and save the plant matter for making butter once it's dried.
  7. Pour the resulting tincture through a coffee filter to remove any fine particulate and bottle it. Bottle the tincture in opaque (or at least brown or blue tinted) bottles as soon as possible to avoid exposing it to light.

The Warm Brew Method

This traditional method, used before the days before fancy refrigeration, is not unlike brewing prison wine. It takes significantly longer than the other methods described but can be employed to siphon every last molecule of THC out of even the ditchiest of weeds. The resulting tincture won't taste great but it will be powerful.

  1. Mix an ounce of rough chopped and decarboxylated (see above) plant matter and a quart of alcohol in a mason jar, cover tightly, shake well.
  2. Place the mason jar in a brown paper bag to block out all light (which will cause the tincture to spoil), then place the bag on a warm (not hot) shelf somewhere and leave it alone for the next month or two (30 - 60 days).
  3. Once the time has passed, strain out the mixture through a double thick wad of cheesecloth (again, you can save the pressed plant matter for butter) and bottle the potent tincture. Bottle the tincture in opaque (or at least brown or blue tinted) bottles as soon as possible to avoid exposing it to light.

How to Eat It

How to Brew Cannabis Tinctures (Eyedroppers Full of Happiness)

These methods should, on average, net you around two cups of tincture (which is a lot). Depending on the quality of your starting material and the method you chose, your tincture could contain upwards of 60 percent THC (again, that's a lot). As such, it's very important that you do two things:

  1. Start small. Place a few drops of tincture (less than a teaspoon) under your tongue, see what happens. If it doesn't give you the spins, wait an hour and a half (minimum) before consuming more, at least until you have a good handle on its potency.
  2. See #1 above.

Other than that, you can consume the tincture directly, add it into recipes in lieu of other ingredients, or just stir it into drinks and food. Just treat it like a liquid form of cannabis butter.

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Top Image: Yarygin