What are cannabis oils and tinctures?

Shanti Ryle
Shanti Ryle - Content Writer

Sep 01 2021 - 4 min read

Cannabis oil and tinctures are often the sources of the market’s cornucopia of consumption options. Today, we explore just precisely what cannabis oil and cannabis tinctures are and how users can incorporate them as a part of their medical cannabis journeys.

Most people’s first impression of cannabis products typically involves someone smoking dried flower out of a pipe or a joint. However, smoking is far from the only way to consume cannabis. By processing the plant itself, we can create various products ranging from edibles, vapes, tinctures, concentrates, and more. Let’s dive in and learn more about cannabis oils.

What are cannabis oils?

The term “cannabis oil” broadly applies to any type of cannabis extract, whether from a cannabis or hemp plant. The extraction process (which we’ll explain more below) removes the plant’s desirable materials from the rest of the plant matter, leaving behind vitamins, cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids. Keep in mind that the resulting oil’s chemical makeup varies from strain to strain and plant to plant, what extraction process is used, and whether any additional processing occurs.

The secret sauce (so to speak) of cannabis oil lies in the 100+ cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. These cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, with THC and CBD among the most abundant.

Cannabis oils are often sold and consumed as part of a broader range of products, with various cannabinoid profiles and concentrations.

Recipes with canna oil. Cannabis, marijuana and CBD oil.

How are cannabis oils made?

Cannabis producers have developed a wide variety of ways to extract the active compounds in cannabis from the plant material. Here’s a look at some of the most common methods.

Solvent-Based Extraction

This technique uses substances that dissolve a solution to separate cannabis oil from cured or fresh cannabis plants. Some of the most common solvents include butane, isopropyl, or hexane. These and other solvents can be toxic if not correctly removed from the cannabis oil, so this technique is best left to professional extraction artists.

Solvent extraction produces thick, amber-colored oil full of cannabinoids and terpenes. Heat and a vacuum are then used to purge the solvent from the oil, which is then often processed into various concentrates such as wax, crumble, and shatter.

Supercritical CO2 Extraction

Supercritical CO2 is a non-toxic solvent also used to extract cannabis oil from the plant. This process compresses CO2 gas to a “critical point” where it becomes “supercritical fluid.” The fluid then strips the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant materials, and, after the temperatures are returned to lower levels, the CO2 evaporates and leaves behind the extracted oil.

CO2 extractions produce a high-quality cannabis oil product since the gas neither damages the cannabinoids and terpenes nor contaminates the final product. After processing, CO2 extraction leaves behind a dark green oil with various cannabinoid profiles and potency.

Cooking oil

Cannabis oil can also be extracted using tools easily found in a home kitchen. Aspiring edible-makers simply need a slow cooker/oven and a small gauge wire strainer or cheesecloth. Some popular versions of cannabis-infused cooking oils include olive oil, coconut oil, and butter and are perfect for use in edibles recipes.

What are the different types of cannabis oils?

While it may be tempting to lump all types of cannabis oils (THC oil, hemp oil, CBD oil, etc.) into a single product, there are significant differences between them. Both are extracted from cannabis plants, but hemp and cannabis have different legalities, cannabinoid contents, and purchase locations.

Hemp oil is:

    • Extracted from only hemp plants
    • High in CBD and contains less than 0.3% THC
    • Non-intoxicating
    • Federally legal in the USA
    • Found in health food stores, alternative medicine stores, and online

Hemp seed oil also is extracted from the hemp plant but contains fewer cannabinoids than hemp oil and is more like eating hemp-based foods than using CBD oil.

Cannabis oil is:

    • Extracted from cannabis plants
    • High in THC and other cannabinoids
    • Causes intoxicating effects
    • Legal on a state-by-state basis
    • Found in licensed dispensaries

In the majority of states, you will need a medical card in order to legally purchase cannabis oil.

What are cannabis tinctures?

A tincture is a medical solution with an alcohol or water base and made with herbs or plants. Cannabis tinctures contain a range of cannabinoids and are administered orally, under the tongue, or mixed into foods or beverages. Often packaged in glass bottles, tinctures offer a simple, smokeless, and easily dosed method of consuming cannabis.

A tincture is a solution of a medicinal substance in alcohol or water. Also known as golden or green dragon tincture, cannabis tinctures contain a range of cannabinoids. They are administered orally, sublingually, or mixed in foods or beverages and are, therefore, often packaged in small glass bottles with droppers as caps for convenient dosing. Tinctures offer a popular way to consume cannabis without combustion or inhalation.

How are tinctures used?

Tinctures are often dropped under the tongue or sublingually, allowing fast-acting absorption with a precise dose. Consumers also mix cannabis tinctures into foods and drinks, including smoothies or salad dressings. Tinctures contain very few calories, making them a preferable edible option compared to cookies or other infused sweets.

Get Your Delicious Canna Oil Recipe

It’s relatively simple to find the perfect tincture dose but takes some trial and error. Most tinctures come with milliliter measurements on the dropper, so users can easily measure the ideal amount for their needs.

Because each person’s endocannabinoid system is different, starting with a small 1ml dose is best. After being held in the mouth for about 30 seconds and swallowed, tinctures usually take effect in 10-30 minutes, with another onset 2 hours later as the swallowed THC works its way through the digestive system.

How are cannabis tinctures made?

Tinctures are simple enough to make but take a few weeks to yield a finished product. Assemble dried and decarboxylated cannabis flower and high-proof alcohol to use as a solvent. After three to four weeks of letting the materials soak, strain the plant matter out of the liquid and funnel into an eye-dropper bottle.

The bottom line

At the end of the day, cannabis oils and tinctures offer a smokeless and easily-dosed method of enjoying the benefits of cannabis with relatively little hassle. If you’re ready to start exploring cannabis oil or tinctures as an option, talk with a Leafwell medical marijuana doctor to learn more about how these products can support you on your wellness journey.

Written by
Shanti Ryle
Shanti Ryle

Shanti Ryle is a content marketer with more than half a decades’ experience writing about cannabis science and culture. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Weedmaps News/Marijuana.com, Wall Street Journal, and other publications.

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