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Tinctures - How to Extract the Essence of Cannabis - Tutorial

Thread starter #1

Smokin Moose

Fallen Cannabis Warrior
How to extract the essence of cannabis and keep it in a little glass bottle.

A tincture is a medicinal extract in an alcohol solution. The alcohol is used to extract and preserve the resins and other soluble material from the plant. Cannabis tinctures are an excellent way to utilize the plant's medicinal ingredients, and a perfect alternative for those who find smoking difficult.

Until the 1920's, Cannabis Indica tincture was available at your neighborhood pharmacy. Queen Victoria used medicinal cannabis extracts to deal with chronic pain. "Good for what ails ya," cannabis tinctures and extracts commonly served as analgesics, sedatives and narcotics.

Tinctures connect us to our pharmacological past – sepia-toned prescription memories and faded daguerreotypes of ancient potions, forgotten remedies, salves, lotions, ointments, syrups and miraculous elixirs.

Curious Alice pondered a small corked bottle labeled "Drink Me" in Lewis Carroll's 1864 classic Alice's Adventures Underground. "Well at least it doesn't say 'Poison,'" Alice wisely reflected. Yet Victorian magician Aleister Crowley's bottle of laudanum was indeed labeled "Poison," to impart a sense of danger and magic.

During the 18th century, absinthe drinkers mixed their wormwood extract with water, transforming it into the "Green Faerie" – a thujone-rich instant psychedelic drink.

The alchemy of alcohol

Alchemy comes from the Arabic word Al-Kimiya. It is a scientific discipline with spiritual and mystical components connected to ancient teachings of metallurgy, smelting, chemistry, pharmacology and biology. Alchemy is the stepchild of chemistry and physics.

Alchemy and tincture medicines share a common heritage. Potions and poisons are all derived from plants grown and carefully tended. The ritual comes full circle in the growing, preparing, and ingesting of the plant medicine – our bodies become the alchemical alembic.

Paraceselus, a 15th century Swiss alchemist, made medicinal tinctures and adopted the Arabic term al-kohl. He is also said to have invented laudanum, tincture of o***m.

Alchemical procedures involve both wet and dry forms such as soaking, distillation and evaporation. The extraction of entheogenic plants requires similar steps. Distillation remained undiscovered until the 12th century, when alchemists first created aqua vitae – aqueous alcohol concentrated by distillations.

In the ancient world, wines derived from fermentation reached a maximum of only 14%. Yet Graeco-Roman wines were customarily diluted by three or four parts, sometimes even by eight, and Homer mentions that cutting 20 parts of water to wine is sufficient for deep intoxication. It is obvious that an exceptionally potent concoction was being consumed. Indeed, the wines of Greek and Roman Bacchanalia were commonly infused with psychoactive plants to make a kind of vinous tincture.

The herbs were macerated in distilled spirits and then distilled again. Sometimes the distillate was then reinfused with a second batch of herbs.

Fruits were also used, along with minerals and precious stones like ground pearls, lapis lazuli, and gold leaf. Sometimes animals were used to make "man's brains" and "viper" wine.

Bee tincture, listed in an early 1900 edition of Practical Formularies, involved capturing and drowning live bees in spirits. Scorpion tincture requires soaking the arachnid for six months in pure grain alcohol, resulting in a nutty flavored restorative. Scorpions feature often in Chinese medicine, along with snakes and other exotica.

Alcohol availability

Cannabis tincture works best with 90% pure alcohol, such as Everclear.

Mexican tincture, however, uses only 35% pure, while Parke Davies Pharmaceuticals – distributors of the original medicinal pharmaceutical extract to pharmacies during the late 19th century – used 80%.

Pure grain alcohol can be difficult to obtain, depending on where you are located. If it's unavailable at your local liquor store, try a duty-free shop.

Most Canadian provinces sell only the highest potency navy rum at 75 proof (32% pure). Further distillation will increase the purity.

Confusion often exists around "proof" and "percent." Percent is approximately half to proof. The origins of the term "proof" hearkens back to the practice of testing alcohol content by wetting gunpowder with it then lighting the powder. If the alcohol was more than 50% water, the explosive would not ignite.

When the gunpowder did spark it was "proof" that the booze in question was at least half alcohol. In the US, 100 proof is defined as 50% alcohol by volume.

Exercise extreme caution when evaporating high-proof alcohol due to its flammable nature. Remember "proof and poof!"

How to make tincture

The philosophy behind tincture is to capture the spiritual and physical essence of the plant. This is done by using the power of ethyl alcohol to dissolve and preserve the herb in question, in our case cannabis.

Ethyl alcohol, known as ethanol, is used for countless applications. Produced biologically by the fermentation of either sugar or starch, ethanol may be used as a solvent for organic chemicals, or as a starting compound for manufacturing dyes, drugs, perfumes, and explosives.

Different plant species demand different strengths of solvent or alcohol. For example, o***m requires 70% pure grain for effective alkaloid leaching. Resinous plants such as cannabis, along with countless other alkaloid-rich botanicals, are ideally suited for extraction in high-proof spirits such as 90% pure grain alcohol (such as Everclear).

The cannabis used for soaking must be dry. When fresh bud is used, the end result is disappointing. Scissoring up the plant material effectively facilitates extracting all psychoactive constituents.

Cannabis should soak anywhere from one to 10 days. Some folks soak it for up to four weeks, following that up with a secondary five day soak in fresh ethanol just to ensure all cannabinoids have been leached.

However, some others insist that the buds remain in the solvent no longer than six hours. They claim that solvents instantly grab onto THC molecules, and anything after this time frame benefits only terpene, oils, and chlorophylls, contaminating the final product.

From my personal experience seven days is adequate, but you should experiment with different time frames to see what works for you and your buds.
The recommended minimum cannabis to alcohol ratio is one gram of bud per 35ml (one fluid ounce). Some prefer up to seven grams per 35ml but others might find this too strong. Individual needs vary. Cautious experimentation is the key.

Throughout the soaking period use only enough ethanol to cover the plant material and occasionally agitate. In a nod to the Goddess, herbs still in solution at this stage are referred to as the "Menstruum."

After you've soaked the bud for the desired time, shake and strain the plant material. After filtering the cannabis solution, it is ready to be stored. This is done best within a blue apothecary medicine bottle. This will protect the precious mixture from degradation by light, while also imbuing mystery to the potion.

For further protection, the tincture should be kept in a cool, dark place. Yet cannabis preserved in ethanol has a long shelf life. Tincture medicines do not come with an expiry date. The fragrance and bouquet of mature tincture is floral akin to perfume.

As the mother tincture matures, new cannabis solution is added, and the final evaporated concentrate extract becomes a composite of many superior cannabis flowers.

The test for making sure all THC has been transferred into ethanol is to smoke the discarded plant material. If it tastes terrible, has a straw color, and is inactive, the operation has been successful.

The spent bud should be collected in a porcelain bowl for drying before mulching. Over several deposits, however, you will notice a residue mark from essential extracted cannabinoids adhering to the sides of the collection bowl. Simply add a small amount of alcohol, swirl, and redissolve this valuable material back into the original mother tincture. Waste not want not!

How to use and consume

Cannabis tincture tastes positively Dionysian, with the sweet earthy flavor of cannabinoids and a lingering bitter aftertaste. The effects are noticeable within 15 minutes, and are felt completely within a half-hour.

An advantage of tincture and extract preparations is their ease of dispensing, consumption, and rapid absorption. Tinctures can become very potent when concentrated, so adjust according to individual dosage requirements.

Tincture comes on fast but soon flattens out, unlike the sustained build and longevity of cooked cannabis products. Throughout the tincture experience one is imbued with great tranquility, able to drift in and out of contemplative reverie.

Care must be exercised, as the delayed onset time may possibly encourage overdosing among those unfamiliar with cannabis tinctures. Orally administered cannabis products may be very uncomfortable when too much has been consumed. Possible panic and anxiety reactions or physical malaise may occur.

Heating the potion may also increase tincture strength. Tincture can be added to cooking recipes by concentrating the tincture into a syrup consistency, further enhancing efficacy. This becomes a commitment when considering the tincture experience's duration and extended nature.

The imbibing vessel or chalice should be reserved for "ceremonial" tincturing. An accompanying dropper for drawing extract, along with small flask for dispensing water into the libation glass is necessary. Tincture first goes into the glass, followed by the water. Glorious green cannabis quintessence explodes upon mixing with water into cloudy green opalescence.

Alcohol awareness

Ethanol represents the least toxic of all the alcohols. The toxicity of medicines, drugs, and poisons is calibrated by the LD50, meaning the lethal dose for 50 percent, signifying the amount of substance necessary to be fatal. Alcohol is considered in the highly dangerous category. Just five times the amount needed to get you happy can be lethal.

Unlike cannabis, ethanol shares no receptor sites to which it connects. Alcohol intoxication represents a true poisoning rather than a key to our cerebral natural paradises. Humans possess an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase which helps metabolize ethanol by oxidizing it to acetaldehyde. Other alcohols like methanol, propanol, phenol, and ethylene are extremely poisonous and can cause blindness and death.

The term "denatured alcohol" means poisonous methanol has been added to prevent drinking, rendering it unsuitable for tinctures ingested orally. When considering dealing with pure grain spirits, it is essential to dilute it with an equal part of water. I once subjected myself to an 0.70ml squirt of 95% ethanol – my upper palette remained sensitive for days.

When it comes to making tinctures, solvent alcohols are essential. These methods require high-proof spirits. Although in small amounts they are indispensable to the extraction process, some individuals may have difficulty with this dual relationship and possibly slippery slope.

For example, absinthe drinkers regularly consumed high alcohol-containing beverages along with their psychoactive thujone-rich wormwood extract. As well, many poets from the Romantic and Gothic periods entertained the additional drug ethanol along with their daily dosages of opiate-ladened laudanum. Thomas D'Quincey's Confessions of an English O***m Eater eloquently portrays the heaven and hell of this dual addiction.

So be careful that you use alcohol for its true purpose, as a carrier for the essence of magic plants, and not for its poisonous intoxication.

Personal experience

A standard tincture is at a ratio of one gram of cannabis to 35ml (1 ounce) of pure grain ethanol. At this strength, a dosage of 1.4ml of extract (2 squirts) mixed with water is barely noticeable, although it is a very effective appetite stimulant.

A tincture of seven grams of cannabis flowers suspended in 50ml (1.5 ounces) of ethanol is definitely psychoactive at a dosage of 0.7oml (one squirt). Upon doubling the dosage to 1.4ml, I achieved a Buddha-trance state, ideal for serious meditation. It was a heavy physical sensation to experience, and I was able to go in and out of meditative state. I felt a warm glow to my extremities.

At this strength, a "heroic dose" is five squirts for the five points of the pentacle and five wounds of Christ. I felt a heightened sense of novelty, an oceanic quiet and inner peace. I was very contemplative.

Often a small amount of cannabis smoked after tincturing greatly potentiates the experience, but the desire for further cannabis smoking is usually lessened.

by Stan Czolowski
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Good read indeed.

so I got tired of saving my stems(only 20g) and tossed them into some vodka(40%)

Its been sitting for at least 2weeks and has taken on more of a brown than a greenish color.

Probably because of the initial product.

Ive never been too keen on Alch and I dont want to consume any unless the mixture is worthwhile.

So do you think this small amount of stems would be adequate for a decent tincture or I should wait and add more stems and/or flowers.
Good read indeed.

so I got tired of saving my stems(only 20g) and tossed them into some vodka(40%)

Its been sitting for at least 2weeks and has taken on more of a brown than a greenish color.

Probably because of the initial product.

Ive never been too keen on Alch and I dont want to consume any unless the mixture is worthwhile.

So do you think this small amount of stems would be adequate for a decent tincture or I should wait and add more stems and/or flowers.
man I would mix some nice buds into that mixture. How much alch did you mix with the 20g of stems?? If you want to get high though, I think you'll need to add a little good bud with those stems. I usually use the crappy buds near the bottom of the plant and then mix that with a couple primo buds and some leaves and you have a good tincture.
Prob too much but I used roughly 350ml.

And I only have some schawgy shii to spare.

Its brown and has an awful smell almost like cleaning products.

Maybe it was just where the asshole kept his stash, but I didnt want to chance putting it into the mix and ruining it.

I was planning to make some ice hash with it.

Hash should dissolve into Alch relatively easy right?
This was a good read! thanks Moose. :31: I started collecting my stems so if im ever out of ganj and res, I could make tea. Its real good for my stomach, but seeing this I might try to make tincture with those stems. It seems like it would be a much more effective and easier way to medicate. Specially in places where medicating might be kinda sketchy. :smoke2:

After I removed the stems the Alch is still brown but a nice mass has formed at the bottom of the bottle :3:.

Not sure what Im going to do with it now that it looks like Trichs piled at the bottom.
eat it?:27:
haha about to do the same thing with the stems :D

already scraped the bowl...ahha this is probably gonna get me more of a drunk buzz than nething. can i let the alcohol evaporate, and then just mix it with a big glass of water and chugg it? this is just more sort of an experiment to see if i can get something out of seemingly nothing. a couple grams of stems, a light dusting of kief (not enough to even lace a joint if i had bud)and all the shake and little pieces that fell off in this little wooden box that used to hold exacto knives. chop up stems, throw everything else in, let it sit, then strain with a coffee filter, find some way to press it a little to get the juice out of the stems, anddddddd walla. if you see any problems in what im doing, please let me know.

other than the fact that it;s pitiful :p
lol i was just thinkin i need to get one, not so much for trichomes quite yet, but more for identifying which seeds are the best out of my big bagseed collection haha. i probably have 100 seeds from over the years...i've been looking at these microgrows and they are pretty convincing. i got an old mini fridge that should do the trick, i just need to make another exhaust hole, and see if i can turn off the cooling motor, but keep the fan motor going. and i don't know CRAP about mini fridges. /ramble.
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psh, my olfactory glands are horrible due to spending a summer being a dishwasher and taking out giant trashcans full of rotting fish and such at a fish house restaurant, and having to jump in the dumpster to compact it, and i can still smell a pig from a mile away. hope they can't smell my sweet goodness though :p
hey guys, just found this in another thread on tinctures, and though it might be a good idea to put this into the more popular tincture tutorial, as this is sort of a safety issue.

Like bubblehash, cold temperatures are very effective at seperating the intact trichomes from the plant material. Simply store the elixir in the freezer once you make it. It reaches optimal potency very quickly this way, I would guess about a week. At that point you could strain out the plant material or leave it in, you could also move it to the fridge. I personally leave the plant material in and strain before drinking. 100 proof alcohol obviously won't freeze either.

Heat would be equally applicable as well as being faster, but high proof alcohol and fire are not a good mix. Also, when using heat there is a fine line between simply extracting the THC from the plant material and degrading the THC by overheating which is easy to do. I find using extreme cold is far easier and more exact for this method.
the above is thanks to roorman, i'd also like to know if there is validity in this before i go and stick mine in the freezer haha. and should i seal it airtight before i do? or just let it evaporate in there and get more potent?

ps, please delete the above post, i apologize i didn't realize it was so off topic.
Thread starter #18

Smokin Moose

Fallen Cannabis Warrior
Tinctures do not like heat. I think all is needed is to store your tincs in the fridge like I do. A better way to do it is after you do the ice extraction, run the hash through a butane extraction, then add the BHO to your alcohol. That is how mine are done. 1gm of BHO to 125ml Cointreau gives you a med grade tinc. All you need to do then is work out which strain to source your starting materials from.
Just need a mag-glass for that about 30x works great.

I'm so old my readin' glasses are that strength :3:
But I can still spot a FED from a half mile :3:

When doing this what if u use 28g would it be easier if I put it on a cookie sheet then add the everclear let sit for how ever long then let the ever Lear evaporate?? Then just scrap the remaining and use that to bake with? I've been reading and there are some things I'm not clear with. Can u please help me out?