About Alcohol for Cannabis Tinctures and Extracts

Throughout history, and into modern day, alcohol plays an important role in the world of cannabis tinctures and extracts.  Alcohol tinctures are representations of the cannabis and alcohol used to make it.  

About Choosing Alcohol for Cannabis Tinctures and Extracts

Ethanol is an alcohol, but not all alcohol is ethanol.  Only use pure, food grade ethanol or beverage grade alcohol for your when making tincture recipes.  Never use isopropyl alcohol, or alcohol labeled as "denatured" as these alcohols are toxic if consumed.

Choose an alcohol that is free of additives, and of the highest proof available.  When tincturing cannabis, it is the ethyl alcohol that does the work.  Alcohol solutions, any mixture of ethyl alcohol and water, will have differing abilities to extract cannabinoids due to their insolubility in water.  Generally speaking, 80 proof vodka is too weak (60% water) to make an effective tincture. 

Read More:

  • Guide to Alcohol for Herbalists and Herbal Tinctures - If you are new to tinctures in general, checkout out this top level introduction to the basic terms, equipment, and considerations when making herbal tinctures with food grade alcohol.
  • Everything to Know about Food Grade Ethanol - Importantly distinguished from common alcohols like isopropyl, methanol, "mineral spirits" and denatured blends, only food grade ethyl alcohol is safe for skin and body.   Learn what makes food grade ethyl alcohol stand out among the crowd of others and understand what to look for on your label or online listing to ensure you are sourcing pure ethyl alcohol for your tincture recipes.
  • How to Buy Food Grade Ethanol for Tinctures - CulinarySolvent.com makes sourcing safe reliable food grade ethanol direct from the distillery in Maine a breeze.  Click the "buy" like at the top of the page, or view our step-by-step guide on How to Buy Food Grade Ethanol for Tinctures here.

About Preparing Cannabis for Alcohol Tincture

Fresh picked green cannabis does not make a good alcohol tincture.  For best results, the cannabis plant material must be cured after harvest just like if it was going to be smoked.  After the curing process is complete, make the decision to decarboxylate now or wait to decarboxylate on a following step

Break apart cannabis nuggets by hand before tincturing to ensure the 200-proof alcohol can reach all parts of the plant.  Griding or chopping is optional, and it is possible to chop too much. 

Use the links below to learn more about preparing cannabis for tincture or how to decarboxylate your cannabis to activate the THC molecule.


about preparing cannabis for alcohol tincture with alcohol


About Making Tincture with Alcohol

Making cannabis tinctures involves simply mixing cannabis with alcohol. Cannabinoids are quickly extracted and dissolved into the alcohol because they're located in trichomes on the leaf surface.

The Effect of Time on Alcohol Tinctures

Tinctures made with oil and glycerin necessitate long soak times, unlike those made with alcohol. When using 200 proof alcohol at room temperature, the extraction process is predominantly (80%) complete after just three minutes of contact time. Extending the soak beyond two hours offers no measurable advantage, even for the densest bud-flowers that haven't been adequately prepared in advance. While it's impossible to ruin a tincture by infusing it for too long, any duration beyond the two-hour mark is essentially unnecessary waiting time.  

The Effect of Cold Temperature on Alcohol Tinctures

Due to the fundamental principles of chemistry and the chemical properties inherent to pure substances such as 200 proof alcohol, leveraging temperature changes can significantly enhance the extraction process of tinctures and concentrates. This approach enables the selective isolation of undesirable elements such as chlorophyll and plant waxes, thereby focusing exclusively on extracting cannabinoid-rich trichomes. Implementing a low-temperature setup for infusion and tincturing processes yields concentrates and tinctures with a more golden-yellow hue, as opposed to a vivid green. This color difference is attributed to the minimized extraction of chlorophyll. Moreover, tinctures produced under cold conditions tend to be clearer rather than cloudy, thanks to the reduced dissolution of plant waxes and hemp oils in the solution.

For cold extraction methods to be effective, it is crucial understand that 1) the entire system and process remain below freezing throughout the extraction period and 2) the benefits of going cold increase up to about -50degrees Fahrenheit the first place improves at lower temperatures. For additional insights, discussions, and visual examples of cold extraction setups and their outcomes, please visit my page on the impact of temperature on tincture extraction (posted soon).

The Effect of Shaking or Stirring a Tincture

Woah! Take it easy, champ! Shaking your tincture-infused jar every hour, day, or week is unnecessary when using 200 proof alcohol for infusion. The extraction process of infusing cannabis tinctures with alcohol is chemical, not mechanical. Therefore, no amount of shaking, stirring, or any form of agitation will expedite your infusion results or enhance the potency.

It is advisable to give the mixture a brief shake or stir just once, after all ingredients have been combined. This initial step helps ensure the alcohol thoroughly permeates the plant material, preventing any dry spots or clumps from being left untouched by the liquid. After this initial mixing, the principles of diffusion take over. The active compounds from the cannabis evenly distribute themselves within the alcohol, ensuring a thorough extraction. This process occurs without the need for further agitation, as the alcohol penetrates the plant material and solubilizes the desired compounds. Unless your shaking is vigorous enough to raise the temperature (which is quite unlikely, but not impossible), further agitation is not beneficial.

Free eBook Download: The Top 4 Cannabis Tincture Myths Everyone Believes

Download my free eBook for expanded discussion of my the top 4 myths of time, agitation, temperature, and alcohol, including a bonus 3 minute Quick Wash Tincture Recipe.

Top 4 Cannabis Alcohol Tincture Myths eBook Download
Top Tincture Myths Exposed and Debunked, including:
  • Time - Chances are you are infusing for too long.  Trade months for minutes when you choose the right ingredients.
  • Agitation - Tincturing is a chemical process, not a mechanical one.   No need to shake every hour, or continuously for that matter.
  • Temperature - Cold tinctures typically have less chlorophyll IF everything is kept cold throughout the tincturing process, but that's about the only benefit.  
  • Alcohol - The type of alcohol you use for your tincture matters, choose an alcohol that has the same quality as the cannabis you are tincturing.  Junk in = Junk out.

Additional Tincture Resources


about making alcohol tincture using cannabis and food grade ethanol


Making Concentrate from Alcohol Tincture.

Technically speaking, alcohol tinctures alone and by themselves are not concentrates.  Tinctures are an extraction of the cannabinoids present in the plant material, any only quality potent cannabis will create a quality potent alcohol tincture.  To transform a tincture into a concentrate, additional steps must be taken.  Commercial cannabis distillate producers typically make an alcohol tincture as their first step in making distillate. 

How to Make Cannabis Concentrate From Alcohol Tincture

  1. Make a large volume of cannabis tincture, 97% will evaporate away.
  2. Evaporate away the alcohol, leaving behind a concentrated oil containing the cannabinoids extracted in the tincture step.

About Evaporating the Alcohol out of Tincture

how to evaporate alcohol from your cannabis tincture
cannabis concentrates made possible with alcohol tinctures


All about Decarboxylation

"Dee-car-box-a-lay-shun". Learn more about this essential activation step, what is known for best practices with time and temperature, when is best to decarb your concentrate, and more.

Decarboxylation Guide

3-minute Quick Wash Tincture Recipe

200 proof ethanol infuses cannabinoids quickly! No need for a-days-and-nights soak, use the right tools and make a tincture in 3 minutes following my simple recipe.

3-Minute Quick Wash Recipe

A.V.A. Build Instructions

AVA stands for "Alcohol Vanishing Apparatus" and is a stand alone unit designed for the safe and effective evaporation of alcohol from a tincture solution. Get to know how AVA works, and see how you can build your own here.

Meet AVA
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