The Tincture Trick: The Best Way To Preserve Your Favorite Strains

Imagine you're SNAPPING a POLAROID 

The moment you click that button you have a memory recorded on film.  You can use that photograph to look back upon that day and you will forever have a clear window into that particular moment of your past.  Tincture is very much the same in that you capture an accurate essence of a plant in a stable solvent.  As long as you have that tincture you will have a little memory of an exact plant and all of it's unique chemical compounds at a given time in history. 

I collect tinctures of my favorite strains like my mom collects scrapbook fodder. 

And they are every bit as sentimental.  My apothecary stash has dozens of different strains from my favorite gardens over the years.  It's a library of harvest time memories immortalized in plant form.  I would like to share that gift with you today.

There are two FUNDAMENTAL methods of tincturing an herb

Maceration - which requires no fancy pants special equipment and is often called the folk method. 
Percolation-  or the scientific method which typically requires a bit of equipment and a moderate amount of math.

It is important to note that both methods have the potential to yield high quality tincture.  For our purpose we will be learning how to make a basic cannabis maceration.

How do tinctures work? 

When a freshly harvested plant is dried the moisture present in it's tissues evaporates.  This not only causes the cells and ducts of the plant to shrink but it causes the substances inside of the cell walls to crystallize.  When a plant material or 'marc' is immersed in the right solution or 'menstruum' the cells begin to swell and break open and the menstruum is able to absorb the beneficial compounds within. 

Additionally, tincture made with an alcohol solvent may have some benefit over cannabis edibles.  When we eat cannabis it must first make it's way through the liver before it can be absorbed by the blood.  Once inside of the liver enzymes alter the cannabinoid constituents causing many of them to morph into a whole other monster by the time they get to the brain. This is why some people experience edibles as being more intense.  On the other hand, tincture taken sublingually (under the tongue) is thought to weaken the mucus membrane allowing cannabis compounds to make swift contact with the blood stream. 

Tincturing has been around for centuries.

It is the pin ultimate tool of traditional western and European herbalists because it is the best way to preserve herbs over time and it is potent to boot.  Even better, it is possible to tincture just about any part of just about any plant.  Each with it's own unique healing abilities.  Cannabis is an exception in that it is one of the only plants that requires a little extra legwork in order to be successful.  Unlike most herbaceous plants found in nature the fresh flower of cannabis is not fit for infusion.  It must first be dried, cured, and decarboxylated.   

from there, Making tincture is easy

To get started you will need a handful of tools

  • a clean mason jar with a lid
  • .5oz decarboxylated cannabis
  • 12 liquid ounces of Everclear
  • a marker
  • a label
  • and a little patience

Cannabis needs a little extra convincing.  If you haven't grasped the concept of decarboxylation already, you're going to want to give Perfecting Preparations a once over.  It's important that you prepare your material properly or your medicine may not work quite as well as you would like.  Once you've decarboxylated  your cannabis and parceled it into easy to manage cotton cheese cloth bundles you can get down to science.  And I know you want to.  Is the anticipation killing you?  Are you ready for it? 

Better watch closely or you might miss goes


Did you catch that ?

Good!  Because that's all there is to it.  You just put your cannabis into a mason jar of any size, pour your solvent (in this case we're using Everclear ), cap it, let it sit in a cool dark place for two weeks, and give it a good shake every now and then.  In the meantime you can read Tincture Tricks Part II all about pressing and storage. 

Oh, and If you're anything like me you will forget what strain is in what jar very quickly

And while playing tincture roulette can be amusing, it's all fun and games until you take a dropper full of heavy sativa while looking for an evening nightcap.  That's why it's super important that you always label your tinctures.  I usually write the strain name, the date tinctured, and any special notes such as the specific crop or garden.

Until Next Time



I'm Mary J Poppins, herbalist, cannabis connoisseur and founder of the Sativa Science Club. Keep an eye on my blog Cannabis for Curious Creatures for nifty new products reviews, DIY tutorials, and scientific insights.  


full disclosure

This information has not been approved by the FDA in any way and is not meant to treat, cure, or diagnose what ales you.  it is, however, intended for adults 21 years of age and over who are of rational and sound mind.  please note that I do not condone the illegal use of cannabis, but i do encourage you all to join the fight to end prohibition in your state. research your local laws today.