Come learn how to make your own homemade cannabis tincture using a simple cold alcohol (ethanol) extraction method. Ethanol alcohol can be used to make cannabis tinctures and other concentrates such as Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO). Learn more about alcohol extraction from Leafly. Our complete, step by step guide to making your own marijuana concentrates at home using the alcohol extraction method.
How to Make a Cannabis Tincture: Easy Cold Alcohol Extraction
Come learn how to make your own homemade cannabis tincture using a simple cold alcohol (ethanol) extraction method with our step-by-step guide. I’ve included plenty of photos to make the process as clear and easy to follow as possible. There is also a printable summary at the end – though I don’t think you’ll want to miss the extra tips in the body of the post.
Tinctures are a convenient, discreet, and easy way to enjoy your plant medicine. It’s kinder to your lungs than smoking or vaporizing, and offers more controlled and consistent dosing compared to smoking or homemade edibles. (I love that I can take just a few drops if needed.) You can use this homemade cannabis tincture recipe with any of your favorite cannabis strains, with CBD hemp only, or like we do – with homegrown herb!
What is a cannabis tincture?
A cannabis tincture is a concentrated alcohol-based cannabis extract, often referred to as “Green Dragon” among the cannabis community. High percentage alcohol is used as a solvent to extract the medicinal compounds (cannabinoids and terpenes) from the plant flower or “buds”. Though tinctures are essentially cannabis-infused alcohol, you do not get drunk since only a tiny amount is consumed.
Cannabis tinctures are highly therapeutic. Studies show that cannabis can be used to soothe a wide variety of physical and mental ailments, including sleep disorders, stress, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, muscle tension, joint pain, migraine headaches, inflammation, seizures, cancer, chronic pain and more. Cannabis tinctures can contain THC only (such as THC isolate), a blend of THC and CBD, or CBD alone.
When it comes to CBD, I always use my favorite certified organic full-spectrum CBD oil from NuVita. It’s federally-legal and is the most effective, potent and pure CBD oil I’ve ever tried. It does wonders for my anxiety, TMJ, and sleep issues! (Use code “deannacat” or this link to save 10% off) But if we want something with THC, we make our own tinctures using homegrown cannabis. It’s fun, rewarding, and a great way to save money!
What type of alcohol to make homemade cannabis tincture?
It is best to use either 200-proof food grade ethanol (aka ethyl alcohol) or 190-proof Everclear alcohol for this cannabis tincture recipe. Both are strong natural solvents that will effectively strip and separate the desired cannabinoids from the plant material. We use USDA organic ethanol from Culinary Solvents. It is pure food-grade grain alcohol, and doesn’t contain any additives or water. Use code “deannacat” to save 10% off pints, quarts, and gallons of regular and organic ethanol from Culinary Solvents!
Lower-proof alcohol (e.g. 80 proof vodka) is a weaker solvent and also has a higher water content than ethanol, which can interfere with the extraction and tincture-making process. You technically can make homemade cannabis tincture with vodka or other lower proof liquor, but it requires additional steps that we aren’t going to cover in this article.
Do not use rubbing alcohol.
What type of cannabis should I use?
It’s important to use decarbed cannabis in this homemade cannabis tincture recipe. If you’re not familiar with decarboxylation, it’s essentially the process of heating cannabis to “activate” it (explained more below). When exposed to heat, raw forms of THCA, CBDA, and other cannabinoids are converted to their active forms of THC and CBD – making it psychoactive as well as more therapeutic. (It’s the same reaction that occurs when you heat cannabis via smoking or vaporizing, and why eating raw bud doesn’t get you high).
Aside from that, use whatever cannabis you prefer or have on hand! Choose a strain (or combination of a couple) with traits you personally desire from your homemade cannabis tincture. We use what we grow: well-rounded sativa/indica hybrids that also offer a good amount of CBD. Learn how to grow your own organic cannabis at home here, and shop for seeds here.
For the most therapeutic tincture, I recommend using strains with a well-balanced THC to CBD ratio. If you’re looking for daytime relief with less mental effects, choose a CBD-dominant strain. Yes, you can totally use this cannabis tincture recipe with CBD hemp alone!
Why freeze alcohol and cannabis for extraction?
This homemade cannabis tincture recipe uses a cold ethanol extraction method, also referred to as quick wash ethanol extraction or “QWET”. Freezing the cannabis makes the trichomes detach from the plant material more efficiently. When mixed with cold ethanol, the desirable cannabinoids and terpenes readily extract and combine with the alcohol – resulting in a stronger, better tincture.
Furthermore, keeping the mixture at a very low temperature helps reduce the amount of undesirable compounds in your tincture, such as lipids and chlorophyll. It’s a chemistry thing, but basically the freezing temperature influences the polarity of the lipids and chlorophyll so they’re more likely to stay bound to the plant material (and therefore get filtered out) rather than combining with the ethanol.
When done right, the resulting filtered tincture wash will be clear and golden in color rather than cloudy or green.
Supplies Needed to Make a Homemade Cannabis Tincture
- 8 grams of decarbed cannabis
- 6 ounces of 200-proof food grade ethyl alcohol (ethanol) or 190 proof Everclear
- Freezer-safe glass containers, such as wide-mouth pint mason jars or half-pint jars with lids.
- Small unbleached coffee filters, like these ones
- Dropper bottles to store your finished tincture. We like these 2-ounce amber bottles; the droppers have mL markers on them for accurate dosing.
Yields: 2 ounces of homemade cannabis tincture
Please note that this is a two-day process, though ingredients are just sitting in the freezer for 97% of that time.
Step 1: Decarb your cannabis
To decarb cannabis, start by tearing up the buds into fairly small pieces. Then spread it out evenly on a baking sheet. For THC-dominant strains, heat the cannabis in the oven at 250°F for 25 to 30 minutes. For high-CBD strains, bake it for 40 to 50 minutes at the same temperature. (It takes slightly longer for CBDA to convert to CBD than THCA to THC does.) If you’re using a well-balanced THC:CBD strain, meet in the middle at 30 to 35 minutes. See this article for a more in-depth look at decarbing cannabis.
Don’t want to stink up the house? Consider using an Ardent Nova device for an easy, nearly odor-free decarboxylation experience. We just got one recently and love it!
Note that your cannabis will decrease in weight slightly during the decarb process (as it gets more dry). So, start with a few extra grams so you’ll end up with the 8 grams needed for this cannabis tincture recipe. Or, bake plenty so you have enough leftover to make homemade cannabis oil or topical salve!
Step 2: Freeze Cannabis and Alcohol (separately)
Use a scale to weigh out 8 grams of decarbed cannabis. Add the cannabis to a freezer-safe glass container with a lid. We like to use a wide-mouth pint glass jar. (Even though it seems more than large enough, the extra room in the jar makes it easier to shake compared to a half-pint jar.) Next add 6 ounces of ethanol to a separate freezer-safe container. Do not mix the alcohol and cannabis yet. Put both containers in the freezer for at least 24 hours.
Step 3: Combine Cannabis and Alcohol (First Wash)
After the initial 24 hours (or longer) is up, remove the cannabis and alcohol from the freezer. Pour ONLY HALF of the cold alcohol (3 ounces) into the container of frozen cannabis. Add a lid and shake vigorously for 5 minutes. Wrap the jar in a kitchen towel if it’s too cold to comfortably hold.
This process extracts the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material, and is considered the “first wash”. We’ll do two rounds total.
Now return the cannabis-alcohol mixture as well as the separate remaining 3 ounces of plain alcohol to the freezer for an additional 2 hours.
Step 4: Shake and Strain
Once the two hours are up, it’s time for another shake – and then we strain! Remove the jar of mixed cannabis and alcohol from the freezer, and shake it again for an additional 5 minutes. (We don’t need the jar of plain alcohol at this time.)
Next we’re going to strain the tincture through two mediums: cheesecloth first to filter the larger plant material, and then a finer coffee filter to further remove unwanted lipids and other residue.
First set up the coffee filter straining station. We find it easiest to set a small coffee filter in the top of a separate clean pint glass jar, fold it over the rim of the jar, and then screw on a lid ring to hold it in place. The cannabis tincture takes a while to seep through the filter, so holding it by hand isn’t fun.
Next, put cheesecloth over the jar that contains the cannabis-alcohol mixture (we use the ring trick again) and slowly pour it through the cheesecloth and into the coffee filter jar. See the photos below.
Now return the jar of remaining cannabis to the freezer while the first wash liquid is straining through the coffee filter (about 10 minutes).
Step 5: Second Wash & Strain
Now it’s time for the second and final wash. This step helps extract any final remaining cannabinoids from the plant material into your homemade cannabis tincture.
Simply repeat steps 3 and 4. Add the remaining 3 ounces of cold plain alcohol to the cannabis jar, add a lid, shake vigorously for 5 minutes, and strain through the cheesecloth and coffee filter once again – pouring it into the same filter and jar as the first wash.
Step 6: Reduce
After all the liquid has strained through the coffee filter into the jar, it’s time to reduce it by about half the volume. Excess alcohol will easily evaporate off, and the result is a more concentrated and effective homemade cannabis texture.
Do this by simply allowing the jar to sit out at room temperature with the lid off for several hours. We place the jar in front of a fan to help expedite the process. Note the volume of liquid in the container when you start (use a rubber band around the jar, or a glass marking pen). Keep an eye on it! Once it reduces by half, add a lid to stop further evaporation – or go ahead and bottle your final homemade cannabis tincture.
Step 7: Bottle and Store
Once it’s reduced by half, transfer the strained cannabis extract to a final storage bottle – such as these amber glass dropper bottles. Amber bottles are ideal since they reduce light exposure, which degrades cannabinoids. Store the bottle in the refrigerator for the best long-lasting quality. Congratulations, you just made a homemade cannabis tincture! Keep reading for usage and dosing information.
How to Use or Take a Cannabis Tincture
You can consume your cannabis tincture either under your tongue (sublingually) or mixed with a beverage (oral ingestion). Sublingual consumption will result in more immediate effects, while oral ingestion will have a slower onset but longer-lasting results. See the graphic below.
However, proceed with some caution! 200 proof ethanol is very strong, and I find it causes a burning sensation when applied straight under my tongue. To avoid that, I put a very small amount of water in my mouth first, squirt in the tincture, hold the diluted mixture in my mouth for a few minutes, and then swallow. Therefore my intake is mostly sublingual, but with a little oral ingestion too.
Strength and Dosing for Homemade Cannabis Tincture
When first trying your tincture, I suggest to start low and go slow. Without lab testing, it’s difficult to say exactly how potent a homemade cannabis tincture is. There are simply too many factors: the initial cannabinoid concentration and strain you used, how long and hot you decarbed it, the efficacy of your ethanol extraction process, and how much it was reduced at the end.
Start with a few drops, and then gradually increase the amount to find your “sweet spot” and desired results. (But wait a couple hours to see how you feel before taking more.) With this recipe, a quarter dropper is a fairly conservative starting point. I personally like to take .25 mL or a quarter dropper (though I’ve taken more just fine) while Aaron prefers about .5 mL or half a dropper. That’s just enough to take the edge off, relax our muscles, and help us sleep better without being too stony.
That was fairly simple, right?
Well folks, I hope this tutorial was easy to follow – and will enable you to successfully make your own cannabis tinctures at home now. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below. If you found this information useful, please consider leaving a rating/review and pinning or sharing this post. We greatly appreciate you tuning in today. Now go have fun making your own medicinal Green Dragon!
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Homemade Cannabis Tincture Recipe
Come learn how to make your own homemade cannabis tincture (aka Green Dragon) using a simple cold alcohol (ethanol) extraction method.
Keyword: cannabis tincture alcohol, ethanol extraction cannabis tincture, green dragon recipe, homemade cannabis tincture, how to make cannabis tincture
- 8 grams decarbed cannabis
- 6 ounces 200-proof food grade eylth alcohol (ethanol) or 190-proof Everclear alcohol
Decarb your raw cannabis. Tear it up into fairly small pieces and spread on a baking sheet. For THC-dominant strains, heat the cannabis in the oven at 250°F for 25 to 30 minutes. For high-CBD strains, bake for 40 to 50 minutes and 30 to 35 minutes for a well-balanced THC:CBD strain. (I suggest starting with a few more than 8 grams since it will get lighter as it dries.)
Add 8 grams of decarbed cannabis to a freezer-safe glass container with a lid, and 6 ounces of ethanol to a separate freezer-safe container. Put both containers in the freezer for at least 24 hours.
First Wash: After the initial 24 hours (or longer), remove the cannabis and alcohol from the freezer. Pour only HALF of the cold alcohol (3 ounces) into the container of frozen cannabis. Add a lid and shake vigorously for 5 minutes. Now return the cannabis-alcohol mixture as well as the separate remaining 3 ounces of plain alcohol to the freezer for an additional 2 hours.
After two hours, remove the jar of mixed cannabis and alcohol from the freezer and shake it again for an additional 5 minutes. Then strain the mixture twice: first through a cheesecloth and then through a coffee filter into a separate clean container (as shown in this article). Return the jar of remaining cannabis to the freezer while the liquid is straining through the coffee filter (about 10 minutes).
Second Wash: Repeat steps 3 and 4. Add the remaining 3 ounces of cold plain alcohol to the cannabis jar, add a lid, shake vigorously for 5 minutes, and strain through the cheesecloth and coffee filter once again – pouring it into the same filter and jar as the first wash.
Reduce the liquid by half via evaporation. Simply set the jar out at room temperature with the lid off for several hours, or place in front of a fan to expedite the process. Note the volume of liquid in the container when you start. Once it reduces by half, add a lid to stop further evaporation – and/or transfer your finished tincture into it’s final storage bottle.
Store your homemade cannabis tincture in an opaque glass bottle in the refrigerator. We recommend 2-ounce amber dropper bottles.
Consume the tincture either under your tongue (sublingually) or mixed with a beverage (oral ingestion). Sublingual consumption will result in more immediate effects, while oral ingestion will have a slower onset but longer-lasting effects. **Please see notes of caution and additional information on usage/dosing below.
- **Ethanol alcohol is very strong and may cause a burning sensation when applied straight under the tongue. To avoid that, I put a very small amount of water in my mouth first, squirt in the tincture, hold the diluted mixture in my mouth for a few minutes, and then swallow. Therefore my intake is mostly sublingual, but with a little oral ingestion too.
- Re: Dosage, start low and go slow. Start with a few drops, and then gradually increase the amount to find your “sweet spot” and desired results. (But wait a couple hours to see how you feel before taking more.) With this recipe, a quarter dropper is a fairly conservative starting point.
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I have 5 vape cartridges that I am unable to use because of COPD so I want to use this to make a tincture. How should I go about getting the oil out of the cartridge and what should I use to reduce the oil to a useable product? Or is this even a good idea to begin with. I appreciate your help, thanks
Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)
Hi Derald, I would not use the oil from your vape cartridges for a tincture as I am not sure what the ingredients used in them are. It would be best to cut your loses and move on from the cartridges all together. It sounds like tincture would be a great solution for you though, hopefully you have access to quality cannabis and can give the tincture recipe a shot. It is a great way to reliably dose cannabis, hope that helps and good luck!
I would like to make my tuncture as strong as possible for my brother going through cancer treatment. Is there a finite amount of CBD/THC that can be infused into the alcohol? My plan was to infuse the alcohol more than a few times. Is there a point at which the alcohol will not hold additional CBD/THC?
Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)
Hi PJ, I am sure there is a point where the alcohol can no longer extract any more cannabinoids from the plant material but I am unsure of what amount of flower that would be or the amount of time it would take for that to occur. You could try this recipe using 14 grams of cannabis and see how it turns out, it should be extremely potent, especially once it is further reduced. You can always alter it from there if necessary but I think it would give you a good starting point of what to expect. Hope that helps some and good luck to your brother and the fight against cancer!
PJ yes, there is a point of diminishing returns, at some point you won’t get all the THC. Use highest proof possible, but I have great results with 151 everclear, and be sure to do the second wash. Use high test cannabis, strains with good pain relief, or ask dispensary if they have trim/popcorn buds and just add more (might save you some cash). There’s only so much cannabis you can add before the plant matter absorbs it all, you need some liquid in there. Typical is 1oz – 2c alcohol, or 1 1/2- 2oz trim-2c. And remember you gotta cut alcohol in half so you can do the 2nd wash. So, you can get 1-2 oz per cup alcohol probably. My batch was just 2c alcohol 66g bud and trim, and 2c set aside for 2nd wash. Grind the bud fine and you can add a good amount to the alcohol, that’s key. If alcohol is an issue you can use food grade glycerin, my mother had cancer and the pain meds keep her from using alcohol. There’s another way around this, and also to strengthen your final product. Reduce the alcohol off!
Remember the more you reduce off alcohol the more THC will concentrate. Tincture is a great base from which you can make other products. RSO for example is a syrup left when all the alcohol is evaporated. A dose the size of a grain of rice can be 100mg+. Carefully, outdoors use an ELECTRIC burner on low, and no open flames and slowly cook the alcohol off. Be careful of the fumes, and remember it is very flammable so be careful, check out a full tutorial on RSO making first. Not that hard… You can also reduce it to almost an RSO then add equal volume in honey to make a honey elixir. That will taste better and cut the RSO potency in half. Suck it up with plastic syringe. Rso is great for making edibles, gummies, hard candies. Don’t stop at tincture! RSO was made for cancer patients, that is what you want for your brother and it has full spectrum, full plant matter and all the cannabinoids in it. You can even legally buy full CBD bud online and add that to boost your CBD %, I do for mine! Also, I dose my tincture drops daily on mini nilla wafers to get it down easy. Hope this helps, and I hope your brother makes a full recovery! Stay strong man, I know how hard and scary it is
So I tried my tincture yesterday, and I didn’t feel much of the relaxing feeling I’d thought. I’m sure it’s because, due to my excitement and impaitience I took some before it was reduced by half. I used space cake and pink runtz for my tincture so I’m expecting a very pleasing experience. The only thing I did different was I poured my tincture in a high heat safe plate and placed in on my electric stoves warmer on low heat to help speed up evaporation. Doing this with all the goodies in the oil that want won’t mess anything up will it? I had a concern that maybe I’d heated for to long and messed it up. I’ve reduced the original product from 5oz down to 1.8 oz and the tincture is like a syrup color but still very fluid. Wish I could shar a pic. If I keep going with evaporation, will that be ok or should I dose with my current product?
Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)
Hi Mike, I think your heating process should have been low enough to not lose any of the cannabinoids and I think the tincture is ready to be bottled now that you are at or just below 2 ounces. If you continue to heat the tincture, it will turn into a viscous oil, somewhat similar to RSO. Now that the tincture has reduced, it will be much more potent than when you tried it before evaporation. Enjoy your tincture!
Curious to know, for a seasoned smoker…should they stick to the amount of herb you used or is using 10 or 12 gs to much? Asking for a friend
Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)
Hi Mike, it really depends on how much THC you are used to ingesting. If you start out with flower that is around 20% THC, this recipe will likely get you in the ball park of 20 mg of THC per ml and the final recipe yields 2 ounces or 60 ml of tincture, compared to 5 mg of THC being considered a single dose in the recreational market. You could increase the amount in the recipe but it is fairly potent as is, you have to make the call on what you are used to as ingesting cannabis, even for seasoned smokers is a different experience. Hope that helps and good luck!
Maybe I missed it, but I’m in the final stages letting it filter through the coffee filter. What do I do with the 8.5 grams of herb that’s left?
Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)
Hi Mike, you can use the leftover cannabis pulp once you let the alcohol burn off by steeping it in tea, making a topical balm or cream, adding to edibles, make capsules, use it in smoothies. The material won’t be as strong as it was originally as a lot of cannabinoids should have been stripped from the material, however, if you decide to ingest the leftover material in some way, be cautious of the dosing until you know what amount is right for you. Hope that helps and good luck!
can u grind your cannabis before u decarb or better to break it up
Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)
Hi Brenda, you can lightly break the cannabis up somewhat (or even leave some of the flowers whole) but you don’t need to grind it beforehand which will save you a lot of time and effort. Hope that helps and good luck!
Thanks for the recipe, I’ve just put my ingredients in the freezer to try this tomorrow. I have a question about the timing, I see a lot of recipes calling to leave the combination for weeks at a time. Granted this is usually for a room temp recipe, but I often hear with cannabis the longer you can leave things/cook things on a low heat, etc., the better the extraction will be. Is there any benefit in making the process longer than this?
Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)
Hi Kap, that may be the case for some extraction methods but the cold temperatures, along with the ethanol alcohol does a great job of stripping the cannabinoids in a quick and efficient manner. The final tincture will also have less chlorophyl and plant waxes which will give you a tastier product. If you were using lower grade alcohol than what is recommended in this article, a longer extraction time may be helpful. Hope that helps and enjoy your tincture.
Is there a way to remove all of the alcohol from the tincture? I’m not a drinker so want to remove the alcohol completely? Thanks.
Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)
Hi Mark, you can remove all of the alcohol from the tincture by just letting it evaporate for a longer time. Once you don’t see the tincture reducing any more in volume, most or all of the alcohol has likely evaporated. From there you will be left with an extremely concentrated oil and you will likely have to dose by individual drops to see the amount that works best for you. Hope that helps and good luck!
Great article. Thanks.
I am curious as to what actual potency is attainable using this method. Is it possible to attain, say, 500 mg THC/ounce?
Have you ever had your tincutre tested for THC?
Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)
Hello Joel, while we have never tested our tincture, I have a fairly good idea on what the general mg of THC per ml will usually be for our recipe. I think if you start out with a strain that contains 20% THC and follow the recipe to the “T” and end up with 2 ounces of tincture or 60 ml, you can safely estimate that each ml will contain 20 mg of THC. This would total up to 1200 mg of THC in the 2 ounce bottle dropper or 600 mg per ounce (30 ml) of tincture. Hope that helps and good luck!
Do you have to do the 2nd straining of the lipids? Are lipids bad?
Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)
Hi Chrissy, lipids aren’t necessarily bad but they can have an effect on the flavor of the tincture. The second wash also helps strip any extra cannabinoids from the flower that may be left over from the first wash, hope that helps.
My state only sells 151 proof Ever Clear. Will that be okay for a tincture?
Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)
Hi Adam, it will work but you will have to see how well or much it evaporates at the end and if you need to reduce it further by other means (other than it sitting in front of a fan). You don’t need to reduce it but it helps increase the potency and lessen the alcohol burn of the final product. Hope that helps and good luck!
Ethanol alcohol can be used to make cannabis tinctures and other concentrates such as Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO). Isopropyl alcohol can be used to make hash, but many are shy away from it because of concerns of its toxicity. Denatured alcohol is toxic and should not be drunk or used to make cannabis concentrates at all.
“When a product was made with alcohol extraction, it’s a good idea to ask what type of alcohol was used.”
What is alcohol extraction?
Ethanol alcohol can be used to make cannabis concentrates. It’s important to note there are different types of alcohol, all with their own uses:
- Ethanol, also called drinking alcohol because it’s the only alcohol that’s safe to drink, is the active agent in alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wine, and spirits. It is safe to use for making cannabis concentrates.
- Isopropyl alcohol has been used by some hashmakers but it can be toxic at certain levels, and many in the cannabis community shy away from it.
- Denatured alcohol is poisonous if consumed and should only be used for cleaning tools or surfaces. It should not be used for making cannabis concentrates.
How to make an alcohol extraction
When using ethanol alcohol to make extracts, many extractors use something close to 100% pure ethanol. Most spirits, such as rum, vodka, gin, tequila, whiskey, etc., have around 40% alcohol by volume (ABV), or are about 80 proof. If making a cannabis extract, 190 proof or stronger (95-100% ethanol) is ideal.
There are various ways alcohol can be used to extract cannabinoids, and the simplest method is to make an alcohol-based tincture, where cannabis is soaked in alcohol at room temperature for weeks. Alcohol tinctures are common in herbalism with non-cannabis herbs and usually have around 40% ABV. Since only a few drops are consumed at a time, it is not enough for one to feel drunk.
Alcohol is considered a polar solvent, which makes it wonderful for extracting cannabinoids, alkaloids, and other chemicals from cannabis and other herbs, although it also extracts chlorophyll, usually giving alcohol extracts a deep green color. Alcohol tinctures are usually consumed under the tongue but can also be added to drinks or food and consumed like an edible, or even rubbed into the skin like a topical.
Ethanol, and all other types of alcohol, are highly flammable as liquids and vapors, so alcohol extraction should be done in a well-ventilated area.
An alcohol extraction can also be heated or left out to let the alcohol evaporate. The result will be a dark, tar-like substance rich in cannabinoids with no residual alcohol—this is often called Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO).
How to Make Your Own Concentrates Using Alcohol Extraction
You can spend literally hours on YouTube sifting through various instruction videos on how to extract cannabis oil with alcohol. Everybody out there seems to have their own preferred method, each of which probably works pretty similarly once all is said and done. Of course, if you really want to find some expert advice on cannabis extraction with alcohol, all you have to do is read a few user comments on the aforementioned YouTube videos. Apparently, there are a lot more marijuana extraction wizards out there than we realize.
All joking aside, making cannabis concentrate (including dabs, wax, shatter etc) with alcohol is a pretty easy process, and is one that you can tackle using a few standard household items – most of which you’ve probably already got.
That said, there are still a few inherent dangers involved with the overall process, as well as some crucial tips and pointers to make sure you end up with the cleanest, purest, and most effective concentrate possible. So without further ado, we present how to make marijuana extracts using alcohol – straight from the comfort of your own home.
What Do You Need to Make Cannabis Concentrates Using Alcohol Extraction?
Really all you need, if you’re wanting to extract cannabis oil using alcohol, is weed, a few heat-safe glass dishes, a strainer of some sort, something to mix with, a heating device, and of course, some quality high-proof grain alcohol.
If you’re wondering why people use alcohol to extract cannabinoids from raw plant material, it’s because the chemical nature of the alcohol works very well as a solvent to pull – or “strip” – the active compounds (i.e. THC, CBD, etc) from the nuggets. Once the cannabinoids are pulled from the weed, all you have to do is let the alcohol evaporate and you’re left with a thick, sticky, ultra-potent residue of cannabis concentrate.
Here is a more organized and appropriate list of the materials you’ll need if you’re wanting to make cannabis concentrate at home using alcohol extraction:
- Cannabis flower
- Food grade alcohol (190-proof Everclear is typically the go-to choice)
- Oven-safe glass bowls of varying sizes (Pyrex dishes work great)
- A mesh or wire strainer
- Unbleached coffee filters
- A non-open flame heat source (hot pad, rice cooker, etc)
If you’ve got this assortment of easily-attainable materials, you can be making your very own marijuana concentrate with alcohol extraction in no time at all. First, though, let’s run through a few safety aspects of the process to point out some of the inherent dangers that are potentially involved.
How to Make Weed Concentrates Using Alcohol… The SAFE Way!
Have you ever seen someone take a big slug of high-proof alcohol then blow a massive fireball by spitting the liquid out over an open flame? This badass technique is typically only attainable in the movies or on TV, but the general scientific idea behind the process is pretty accurate: that is, that alcohol is very flammable.
As such, when you’re making cannabis concentrate with alcohol extraction, you’ll want to ensure two things: that you’re doing so in a well-ventilated, open-air environment, and that there are no open flame sources around – or even something that can produce a spark.
While high grain alcohol is not quite as combustible as other (more volatile) solvents like butane or hexane, there is still an inherent risk of setting something (including yourself) on fire if proper safety precautions are not taken. In fact, several people have died in recent years from accidental explosions while trying to make cannabis concentrates at home in poorly-ventilated areas.
Be safe, know what you’re doing before you start doing it, and also ensure that what you’re doing is legal in the state/area you live in – we are NOT responsible for any illegal activity, and are certainly not responsible for any fatal or ill-fated attempts at trying to make weed extracts at home using alcohol. In fact, we recommend that you just go to a dispensary and buy the product from a professional, rather than trying to do it yourself. But that’s just us.
Easy DIY Steps for Making Cannabis Concentrate with Everclear (High-Proof Alcohol)
For this first method on how to make weed concentrate using alcohol, we’ll discuss the process when using 95% (190-proof) Everclear alcohol, as this is probably the most common technique (Everclear is fairly easily available in most U.S. states).
Make sure you’re in an outside (or otherwise very well-ventilated) area, make sure there are no open flame sources around, and here are the steps you’ll take:
- Break apart your nugs into relatively small pieces by hand, making sure to leave most of the sticks and stems out. You don’t want the flower too fine, so a grinder is not recommended.
- This step is not entirely necessary, but if you want to drive some of the moisture from the buds and improve the extraction process, you can place the ground up nugs on a baking sheet in an oven at about 180-degrees Fahrenheit for roughly 20 minutes. This will NOT decarboxylate the THCa, but will simply help produce drier plant material which many believe is better suited for alcohol-based extractions.
- Empty the ground up nugs into a glass jar and pour enough alcohol overtop so that they are completely immersed. Stir slowly but deliberately for about 10 minutes.
- After stirring, put your strainer over the top of a clean glass dish and pour the Everclear/cannabis mixture into the strainer. You should be left with a nice bright green liquid in the clean dish (don’t discard the saturated nugs as you can save these for further rounds of extraction).
- You will now need to heat your Everclear/cannabis mixture in order to evaporate the alcohol and separate it from the cannabinoids. Pour the mixture into a rice cooker and let it sit on low heat for several hours. You can also use a boiling water bath, but whatever method you use, make sure you keep the temperature low enough so that the cannabis extract is not combusted or deteriorated.
- If your alcohol evaporation process goes correctly, you should be left with a thick, gunky, tarry-like cannabis concentrate substance and virtually zero alcohol. To test for alcohol content, put a tiny amount of concentrate on the head of a needle and hold a lighter flame to it. If it produces a spark, there’s still alcohol in it. If there’s no spark, it’s probably pretty pure.
- Scrape the remaining concentrate from the inside of your glass dish/rice cooker and place it onto a wax parchment paper. You may want to freeze or refrigerate it to make the accumulation process a bit easier.
- Repeat steps 1-7 as many times as desired, though be advised that your “first run” will by far produce the purest, most potent concentrate. Each successive run will be less potent and will contain more plant impurities.
A Few Notes on the Alcohol-Extracted Cannabis Concentrate You’ve Just Made
There are a few different terms for this style of alcohol extracted cannabis concentrate. Most would call it honey oil, but it’s also basically the same thing as Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO concentrate.
Whatever you choose to call the cannabis concentrate you just made, be advised that it should be used for oral consumption only. In other words, this type of cannabis concentrate using alcohol extraction should not be used in a dab rig or vaporizer.
Why, you might ask? Well, for one it will probably taste like crap if you try and dab/inhale it. While the alcohol strips that plant material of the active cannabinoids (THC and CBD) very efficiently, it also extracts chlorophyll, which is largely the reason why you end up with such a dark, thick, gooey, tarry substance.
While chlorophyll can be very healthy when ingested in a normal diet (i.e. eating leafy greens), it combusts/vapes terribly and is probably not too great for the respiratory system. For this reason, you should administer your alcohol-extracted cannabis oil orally, sublingually (below the tongue), or infuse it into edibles. You can dab it, but it’s definitely not advisable – especially if you’re after a good, pure taste.
If the process was done correctly, the end concentrate should be nothing but pure plant extract. It may look (and taste) a little funky, but at least you know you’re not consuming (or shouldn’t be, anyway) any foreign chemical substances.
How to Make QWISO Cannabis Concentrate (Quick Wash Isopropyl Alcohol Technique)
Another popular method for making cannabis concentrates using alcohol extraction is the quick-wash isopropyl alcohol technique, otherwise known as QWISO. This process may be a little quicker, and if done right, it can produce a nice amber, slightly more visually appealing extract than RSO concentrate (though you’ll typically get a much smaller yield).
For the QWISO cannabis extraction technique, you’ll need:
- Marijuana flower
- 99%+ isopropyl alcohol (do not use rubbing alcohol)
- Unbleached coffee filters
- Various size glass jars and dishes
- A wire strainer
- A non-open flame heat source
Again, properly-made QWISO extract can produce a beautiful golden/amber concentrate that (depending on the extraction conditions) may or may not end up in the form of a nice 80%+ shatter. The steps are more or less the same as the previous extraction technique with Everclear, albeit with a few crucial differences:
- Break apart your nuggets by hand, making sure not to produce too fine a powder.
- Place the nugs in an oven-safe dish at about 180-degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes. This will drive the majority of the moisture out of the flower but will NOT decarboxylate the buds.
- After you take the marijuana out of the oven, place the nugs in a sealed glass jar and put them (along with the 90%+ isopropyl alcohol) in the freezer for about four hours.
- Take both the nugs and the alcohol out of the freezer, then pour just enough alcohol over the buds so that they’re fully saturated. Working quickly (hence the name “quick-wash”), stir the alcohol/cannabis mixture for no more than about two minutes. (This will vary depending on the amount of bud you’re using. If you’re using an eighth or less, you’ll only want to stir for about 20 seconds).
- After your quick-wash stirring, quickly pour the cannabis/alcohol mixture through your mesh wire strainer and into a clean jar. You should be left with a nice, clean, lightly-hued liquid extract.
- Further filter this liquid by pouring into an unbleached coffee filter, and draining into another glass clean jar.
- To evaporate the alcohol, place the jar with your cannabis/alcohol mixture into a warm water bath, making sure that it doesn’t get so hot as to decarboxylate the THC and CBD. You can also let the mixture sit and evaporate on its own, but this will likely take 24+ hours.
- Once the alcohol is completely evaporated, scrape the cannabis concentrate onto a clean piece of wax parchment paper. To test for purity, scrape a tiny amount of concentrate onto the head of needle and hold up to a lighter flame. If a spark is produced, there is still likely to be alcohol solvent remaining, and you should let it sit and evaporate more.
Final Thoughts on How to Make Cannabis Concentrates Using Alcohol Extraction
All in all, making cannabis concentrate using alcohol extraction techniques is a pretty crude method. However, it can no doubt produce a safe, pure, medicinal, “highly” effective (pun fully intended) end product – if done correctly.
Just be safe, make sure you’re working in an open-air (and/or extremely well ventilated) environment, and make sure that there are NO open flames around (this includes sparks and vaping devices). Also, make sure that what you’re doing is legal in the state or area that you’re in. As we said before, we are NOT responsible if you break the law, and/or if you hurt yourself, others, or damage property while trying to make cannabis concentrates with alcohol extraction.