Cannabis tinctures recipe: How to make marijuana extracts with alcohol

Cannabis tinctures extracted using alcohol are a great way to make concentrated marijuana edibles. THC can be extracted in high-proof alcohol easily in your kitchen. These weed tincture recipes can be made with marijuana flower (buds) or concentrates such as kief, hash, or shatter (BHO).

In this  article we discuss 3 ways to make marijuana tinctures:

This green dragon weed tincture recipe is a great way to add a THC kick to any liquor or mixed drink.
This green dragon weed tincture recipe is a great way to add a THC kick to any liquor or mixed drink.

We’ll show you how to make a weed tincture safely (remember that high proof alcohol vapors are very flammable).  You’ll also learn how to determine the potency of THC content of your marijuana tincture, how much you should take, and how to incorporate your marijuana extract into alcoholic drinks and edibles recipes.

We’ll also show you how to adjust these tincture recipes for different forms of cannabis including dried buds, kief, hash, dry ice hash, and weed concentrates such as rosin, butane hash oil (BHO), honey oil, dabs, etc.

Master Wu’s Green Dragon tincture recipe

Master Wu’s recipe for green dragon tincture is an internet classic that can be found here (scroll to the bottom of page 2 on that forum). It’s a long drawn-out forum discussion that contains some helpful comments thereafter. But if you don’t feel like sorting through all that we’ve compiled the basic recipe below.  Any green dragon tincture made using heat provides a quick extract time, so you’ll be able to consume this cannabis tincture as soon as it cools.

The importance of decarboxylation

Note that we’ve made a slight modification to the temperature and heating time in the decarboxylation step compared to Master Wu’s original green dragon recipe. The original Master Wu recipe called for a 5 minute decarb  at 325 F degrees. We’ve opted for a lower temperature at a longer time which we’ve found is a safer bet when decarbing cannabis for edibles. Decarb times vary based on what type of cannabis you’re using.

The marijuana tincture recipe steps below will show you how to decarb ground buds. If you’re making your tincture with other forms of cannabis, you can decarb them and use in the Master Wu recipe in place of the ground weed flower. Learn more about how to decarboxylate other forms of cannabis here:

Decarbing the marijuana flower or concentrate is a necessary step when making cannabis edibles. It occurs when you gently heating the weed which transforms THCA into THC, which is the main psychoactive cannabanoid that produces the green dragon’s high. NEVER SKIP THE DECARB STEP! Your cannabis tincture won’t be as potent if you do.

How to Make Master Wu’s green dragon recipe

  1. Grind: Grind up 4 grams of high-quality marijuana buds (flower) into a fine powder.
  2. Decarb: Place ground weed on a sheet of aluminum foil in a thin layer (fold the corners up to prevent spillage) and cook in 250 F degree oven for 30 minutes
  3. Combine: Place decarbed weed in a 1 pint pyrex container (or a heatproof glass jar) and mix with 2 ounces Everclear or 190 proof grain alcohol (substitute Bacardi 151 for a lower-quality final product)
  4. Heat water: Boil 2-3 inches of water in a small cooking pot (make sure water level is much lower than top of pyrex cup with weed in it). Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar to water to reduce mineral deposits on pan.
  5. Double boiler: Place pyrex container in middle of pan of water. Use candy thermometer to measure temperature, you want to boil this for 170 F degrees for 20 minutes.  Volume of alcohol will decrease as it evaporates.  Scrape sides down as alcohol evaporates so ensure plant material and residue on glass stays in contact with the boiling alcohol.
  6. Strain: Remove from heat and cool. Press cannabis tightly to release as much tincture as you can (a garlic press works great).
  7. (Recommended) Repeat the double boiler step above using the same weed and 1 oz of fresh Everclear for another 10 minutes at 170 F degrees to ensure a more complete extract.
  8. Filter: Filter tincture in a coffee filter. Pre-moisten filter with plain Everclear to prevent your tincture from getting absorbed aka wasted.
  9. Drink!: Can be consumed right away. Store in a cool, dark place away from children or pets.

Notes about making Master Wu’s weed tincture

Before making cannabis tincture the first time, please read these notes.  Boiling alcohol releases very flammable vapors. Only make extract in well ventilated areas. Turn on your kitchen exhausts fan or use a box fan. Never make this in a a small, enclosed kitchen or you risk blowing yourself up. This recipe is safe due to the small scale, but if you are planning on doing this tincture recipe with a large quantity of boiling grain alcohol and an open-flame heat source then you’re out of your mind.

You can use a mason jar instead of pyrex, but you do risk having it crack and losing your batch.  A pyrex measuring cup is a much safer bet. I found I was able to maintain a much stabler temperature using a small mason jar early on, but I switched to the pyrex cup to be safe.

Grind the weed up to expose as much surface area as possible.  Use a hand grinder, an electric spice grinder, or a blender.  Making sure your weed is fairly dry helps a bit.  Use good weed. The more plant you use, the more planty it will taste.  Using trim or sugar leaves isn’t recommended for this reason. Kief and concentrates deliver a much purer tasting product.

You definitely need to use a candy thermometer to monitor and maintain the right temperature in the double boiler.  Maintaining the correct temperature is essential to make green dragon. Alcohol will boil off around 170 F degrees, you’ll notice it gently rolls or releases smaller bubbles compared to boiling water.  You’ll likely need to turn down your burner to a low setting once the water initially boils. Keep adjusting the heat to try and maintain 170 F degrees.  If it gets too low, bring up to a boil and just add another minute or two to the cook time.

When the boiling time finishes you’ll be left with a fraction of the original amount of alcohol, likely less than 1 ounce. If so, add plan everclear to bring the total volume up to 1 oz. This will help you dose THC content accurately using an eyedropper. Or you could add your tincture directly to a quantity of flavored alcohol such as peppermint brandy or other strong flavored liquors, so that you can bring to a party to do shots. Be careful about overdoing it, start with a small quantity the first time and take more the next time if need be.  Never say “it’s been an hour and I barely feel it, lets take a double dose” or you may pay a steep price for your boldness.

Make sure the water level in your pot stays higher than the level of the weed and alcohol in the pyrex cup. But not too high so splashing water gets in the weed/alcohol mash.

This recipe uses 4 grams of high-quality marijuana flower, similar to the 1/8 ounce amount called for on the original Master Wu recipe forum. Using flower means the final tincture will have a green “planty” taste that will overpower light beverage or food recipes.  Mixing them in strong drinks such as 4-6 oz of a strong beer is a great way to consume them. The cloudy effect of the tincture added to the beer is a cool start to your journey.

How to determine the potency of Master Wu’s cannabis tincture

The potency of your green dragon tincture will vary based on the potency of the cannabis material used in the recipe, among other factors.
The potency of your green dragon tincture will vary based on the potency of the cannabis material used in the recipe, among other factors. Use potent buds for best results.

The potency of cannabis tinctures made with marijuana buds depends on several variables.  How strong is your weed? Did you decarb properly to maximize THC? How much alcohol evaporated? Did your alcohol bath fully extract all of the available THC?

Potency of tincture using marijuana flower: Here’s how you can find out how much THC is in your cannabis tincture.  If you make your extract using marijuana buds, your potency can range from as low as 5% THC for low quality seeded Mexican brick weed, 15% – 20% for high quality flowers, even up to 30% and beyond for some strains.

If you don’t have the luxury of using tested buds from a dispensary, you’ll need to estimate. For example, if I have 4 grams of really good (but not super sick) AK-47 flower, I’d estimate the potency to be about 17%.  Each gram of flower is 1000 mg, so there would be 170 mg THC per gram. 4 grams of weed would be 4 x 170 mg which equals 680 total milligrams. Assuming proper decarb and a thorough extract, your final ticture would have 680 mg THC. If you have a final product equaling one liquid ounce or 30ml of tincture, each ml will have 23 ml of THC.

Potency of tincture using kief or dry ice hash: Estimating the THC content of weed tinctures made with kief or dry ice hash employs similar math.  The THC content of kief varies based on the amount of plant material in it. 73 micron dry ice hash is a pale yellow and very pure, whereas higher sizes such as 160 micron have more green material. 160 is as low quality as I’ll use to make tincture, but realistically even 220 kief would be preferable to using flower from the same plant since there’s less chlorophyll to contend with.

I use 160 micron kief extracted using dry ice hash in tinctures and other edibles recipes frequently since I save the 73 for smoking.  I estimate that the 160 kief is about double the potency of the flower itself, so for that same AK-47 flower above each gram of kief would be an estimated 340 mg. Using 4 g of this kief would yield 1360 mg THC total per batch. If final product was 1 oz. or 30 ml, each ml of extract would have about 45 mg THC.

Potency of tincture made using shatter/dabs/honey oil/butane hash oil (BHO): Using shatter to cook edibles is a great idea for several reasons. The purity of the cannabis concentrate means your tincture will have a less planty flavor than if you used buds. Plus it’s a lot easier to determine how potent your tincture is. Since most BHO is in the 70-75% THC range, you can estimate 72% which means each gram (1000 mg) of concentrate has 720 mg THC.  Using 1 gram of shatter in your tincture recipe that yields 1 oz of final product means that you’ll have thirty servings that are 1 ml each, with 24 ml per serving. To double the potency use 2 grams of shatter instead of one.

Potency of tincture made using marijuana trim or sugar leaves: Please don’t try this recipe with trim. It will taste like a chlorophyll smoothie. For best results, make dry ice hash to get some kief for this recipe. Or just rub dried trim across a 72 micron screen such as your trim tray, it’ll take a while to get the 4 grams of kief needed but it’s well worth the effort compared to going through all the steps above and still yielding a planty, impotent tincture that makes everything taste like crap.

Freezer extract marijuana tincture recipe

If you don’t want the hassle of cooking your tincture in the steps above, then try this method which combines freezing temperatures with long waiting times. It will take a few months, but the low effort required means with a little foresight you’ll be able to set sail. The longer it sits, the more complete the extract. But overdoing it means additional leeching of planty flavor.

How to make cannabis tincture in your freezer

  • Finely grind 4 grams of high-quality marijuana buds
  • Decarb your flower using the steps in Master Wu’s recipe above
  • Add to a small mason jar with a tight seal. Cover with very cold Everclear (190 proof grain alcohol) or Bacardi 151
  • Shake for a few minutes and place in dark paper bag to block light.
  • Shake vigorously each day for 1 minute for 2-4 months.
  • Strain, squeezing plant material tightly. Filter using coffee filter. Premoisten filter with plain Everclear to avoid absorption of the tincture.

“Your potency depends on how much total yield you get.  You can factor the potency using the formula used in Master Wu’s recipe above.  The longer it sits and the more you shake it will affect potency, up to a point.

This freezer preparation can also use kief. I’ve never tried it with concentrates as I wasn’t sure they’d dissolve fully without heat, I usually use Master Wu’s recipe when making tincture with concentrated marijuana products.

Cold temperatures help prevent the chlorophyll in the weed from leeching into the alcohol. Try placing your mason jar of everclear in the freezer the day before to ensure it’s cold through the entire process.

Quick extract method of preparing cannabis tinctures

Some people swear by a variation of the cold extract method where you just shake dried and decarbed weed in a mason jar with everclear for 5 minutes.  They then strain it an consume it.  I’m not convinced that this fully extracts the available THC in the plant material, so I’m not going to try it and risk a weakened tincture recipe.

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