Unraveling the Mystery of the Marijuana Tincture

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Below you will find the creation of the tincture.

Merriam-Webster describes this one definition of a tincture as “a solution of a medicinal substance in an alcoholic solvent.” The techniques included here are optimal for purity and strength, which is exactly what we’re going for. I’ve read dozens of testimonials, and the common thread seems to be that for cramping and muscle spasm issues, an Indica dominant strain works best, and Sativa dominant strains are preferred for relieving pain. It goes without saying that the potency of the strain increases the intensity of the finished product. In reality though, the potency and/or strain isn’t always known, so a little trial and error is often the scenario. As the saying goes, “practice makes practice makes perfect.”

Marijuana tinctures are extractions of the active cannabinoids within the cannabis plant. The plant itself actually contains some chemical properties that can cause upset stomachs, or leave a bad aftertaste in the user. One of the most basic reasons for the tincture is to utilize the cannabinoids and not the chlorophylls or terpenes. (Chlorophyll is what makes the plant green, and terpenes are hydrocarbons found in essential oils, resins and balsams.) Additionally, both light and heat can effect the cannabinoids and should be avoided or kept at a minimum.

Always store tincture in an airtight, dark glass container and kept at room temperature or below. The ethanol in the tincture can dissolve some types of vinyls found in different plastics.

Cold Method with Ethanol

When you make a tincture cold, it preserves the essential ingredient in the cannabis- the cannabinoid. In order for the tincture to be powerful and effective, I would recommend starting with flowers or kief, recycling your trimmed buds and leaf. You know those crystals you see on a really gorgeous bud? That, my friends, is the stuff that dreams are made of- and dreams are what we’re brewing up here. Now, make absolutely certain that you bud isn’t moldy or moist- you can dry your goods in a freezer, or if your well past novice status, you can place the merchandise into a waterproof bag, and give it a dry ice or ethanol dip. After the water is gone, the exterior region of your product needs to be made bigger. In other words- grind your stuff up. One thing you should not do here is go overboard- you want it ground up really good, but not powder.
To make kief, rub your dry leaves over a silk screen. If you did not place something under the screen, I cannot help you here- you’re working off the counter. The kief should be a very pretty, pale green. The practice of ‘kiefing’ has actually been around for centuries as a way of extracting the trichomes from plant material ( a trichome is a hair on a plant). In either case, whether you’re using some ground up buds or home made kief, they should both be kept as close to ice cold as possible, as well as any ethanol you will be using during the process.

When you buy alcohol at the store, it usually says something like 80 proof on it- which means you’re a badass. Seriously, though, what it really means is that it is 40% ethanol- so the proof is double the percentage. Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol is the kind of alcohol humans normally consume, so the higher the alcohol content, the better it works. In a perfect world, 200 proof ethanol would be great, except that it can’t be distilled to that proof, so its whacked with benzene to get the remaining water out. Which leads me to the ever popular, “Don’t try this at Home” quote, followed by:
“Pure” ethanol is poisonous!

Everclear, (or moonshine) is 95% ethanol. It is 190 proof, has no taste, and is a popular favorite across the board. To my surprise, this trophy of a refreshment isn’t available in most states, which makes our runner-up in the experiment 151 proof rum. This concoction, which is completely legal by the way, is a staggering 75 % ethanol. You can still use a nice brandy or vodka if it happens to suit your tastes.

For cold extraction and purification, use at LEAST an ounce of material to each pint of ethanol.
Put the cold powdered kief or ground buds into a glass jar with the ethanol, and get the lid on. Shake the living crap out of it for about five minutes, and stick it in the freezer. For the next two or three days, continue taking frustrations out on the jar by shaking it up really good every few hours or so with re-freezing. When you’re ready, strain the mixture through a double layer of sterile cheesecloth. Save the mud ball you are left with for topical administrations or make bud butter out of it. The liquid you strained should be strained again through a coffee filter a couple more times. Wear rubber gloves, because you will need to do a little squeezing of the filters and the cheesecloth. Be warned- without gloves, your skin will absorb some of the material. If you used the everclear, the mixture should be pale green to golden colored. Rum usually produces more amber colored results. Keep in mind you can also flavor the tincture with extracts like raspberry or vanilla.

Okay loyal henchmen, let’s keep on truckin’. The traditional, (by which, I mean Old Fashioned) and reliably effective warm tincture method, has been pumping out smiles since time out of mind. Most people can’t afford to use bud or kief, so leaf is a good and effective alternative here. Grind your plant material to expose surface area. A really fine grind isn’t a good idea, because it will make the tincture cloudy, so a rough chop is just right. Use the ethanol in the same proportions as above. The big difference here, is that the materials are kept warm (not hot!). Also, avoid exposing the mixture to any light.

Get the ethanol and marijuana situated in a mason jar, and shake it at least once a day. Shield it from light, or put it in a brown paper bag. Leave the jar in a sunny window or somewhere warm for 30 to 60 days. Don’t forget to shake it! The mess inside will turn a very dark green. Strain the stuff after curing it through cheesecloth as directed above, remembering to use gloves. Don’t forget to recycle, and use the leftover shake ball for topical application. Keep the ball in the freezer, and pinch a small amount to apply directly to affected area(s) for a few minutes with a little moderate rubbing. As always, the best of luck to you in your endeavors!

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