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How To Make Your Own Cannabis Tincture

by Melanie LaForce

In the Survival Skills for Badass Bitches series, writer Melanie LaForce walks you through everything you need to know to survive the outdoors, tough situations, and/or the forthcoming apocalypse. 

2020 has taught us that we can expect the unexpected. The universe has spoken, and plainly stated that “All bets are fucking off.” Amidst pandemic, violence, wildfires, hurricanes, and oh yeah, fucking cannibal hornets, you’ll need some strategies to take the chaos in stride with a fat smile. We’re here to give you some real-world bad ass witch skills, such as peeing on the side of the road, foraging for food, and today, making your own cannabis tincture.

A quick note before you proceed: take into account all local cannabis and alcohol laws, and use both at your own risk. Effects of cannabis tincture vary across users and use conditions. 

Weed is now mainstream, y’all. Your mom uses it, your boss uses it… hell, I’ve even seen it offered at business meetings. In 2020, access to cannabis has never been greater. As of the November election, 15 (totally rad) states will have recreationally legal marijuana, and 36 states will have medical marijuana programs.

Since many states have legalized recreational marijuana use, the cannabis industry has seen as much conflict as a CW teen drama. On one hand you’ve got posh, beautifully designed marijuana oils and edibles touting a range of benefits and ingredients. Our girl Martha Stewart has her own line of beautiful CBD edibles, and Goop loves to preach the gospel of boutique and luxury cannabis products.

On the other side, you have the purists. These are the Old Pals of the cannabis industry who believe in a return to sane, basic cannabis for cannabis’ sake. Several grow farms and distributors now produce and aggressively market cheap, “everywoman” weed, with zero frills or pretention. 

While I’d love to embrace the street cred of the old school view, I can’t help but fucking swoon over the opulent, artisanal shit. However, I can’t afford it. So instead, I fall somewhere in between, with my own DIY cannabis tincture in pretty cobalt blue apothecary bottles. 

Making your own cannabis tincture (aka “giggle water”) is a great skill during the apocalypse for a range of reasons. First, and perhaps most obviously: everything is terrible and we desperately need to be high as much as possible. Many of us (cough, Seth Rogen) admit to leaning harder into the cannabis lifestyle to cope with our never ending shitstorm of a world. Cannabis tincture will have you drifting on a metaphorical pink cloud, easing you away from it all. Tincture is compact, light, and you don’t need big glass dabbing rigs or pipes to go with it. Because you consume cannabis tincture orally or sublingually, there’s significantly less odor in using and storing it. And since you aren’t burning and inhaling the cannabis, you’re less likely to get nasty carcinogens with your buzz. 

Cannabis tincture is the most affordable way I’ve found to consume cannabis. Tincture helps a small amount of weed go a long way in case, god forbid, cannabis is scarce. It’s also highly shelf stable, as long as you keep it out of extreme light and temperatures. Finally, cannabis tincture is incredibly easy to make; it only takes about 30 minutes. (Online recipes for cannabis tinctures reference a range of cook times. Feel free to adapt, but I learned my technique from a University of Chicago biologist, so…YEAH.)

The first ingredient you’ll need is cannabis flower. You can use anything from lush sun-grown buds the size of baseballs to the shitty dry weed that you bought in high school and found yesterday wedged behind your sock drawer. Cannabis tincture is a great way to use shake and less desirable cuts of flower. 

The other ingredient is very high proof alcohol, such as Everclear. Everclear is grain alcohol, and it’s unlikely you’ve tried it unless it was mixed with red punch and ladled out of the bathtub at a college fraternity party. Everclear is 190 proof (95% alcohol!), twice as strong as most hard liquor. (I also use Everclear to clean my pipes. Everclear and other high proof liquors are no joke, and I would strongly advise against drinking them the way you would drink other hard liquors.)

Grain alcohol is heavily regulated and may be hard to acquire in some states and regions. I have tried this recipe with lower-strength alcohol and other high proof liquors, however, Everclear works the best and most consistently for me. Alcohol binds to cannabinoids, so this recipe can also work with non-psychoactive CBD-dominant flower. 

Ready to go? Here are the detailed instructions.  

DIY Cannabis Tincture


  • ⅛ ounce (about 3.5 grams) cannabis flower. 
  • ½ cup of 190 proof/95% alcohol, or as strong as you can find

Supplies: Oven, fine-mesh strainer (or coffee filter), grinder/mortar and pestle, sheet pan, clean jar with lid, 4 2-ounce eye-dropper or other bottles. 

  • Preheat the oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Grind cannabis flower. (If you don’t have a good grinder, use a mortar and pestle. Or put on some Schitt’s Creek reruns and slowly tear the flower to tiny pieces.) 
  • Spread ground flower across a sheet pan in a very thin layer (i.e. most of the flower should be directly touching the pan). Bake for 18-20 minutes. While the weed bakes, pour the alcohol into a jar. Take a moment to breathe deeply and enjoy the marvelous scent of cannabis decarboxylating in your very own home. 
  • When the cannabis starts to brown, remove from the oven and immediately transfer it to the alcohol. Use a spatula to gently scrape the flower into your jar of Everclear. Put on the lid, making the jar as airtight as possible, and cover the entire jar with a towel to keep out light. 
  • Now, we come to a point of great controversy. According to my scientist friend, the extraction of THC (the cannabinoid that makes you feel high) likely takes place almost immediately. She typically strains out the cannabis flower after only 20 minutes. I keep mine mixed overnight, and others may let the tincture sit for a week or more. The longer you let the decarboxylated cannabis and alcohol hang out, the more “weed-y” your tincture will taste. If you want to let it sit for a while, keeping it in the freezer may help mitigate this effect. 
  • Whenever you with all your witchy intuition deem your tincture “done,” strain through a mesh strainer, coffee filter, or cheesecloth. (The latter two soak up some of your precious tincture, but work in a pinch.) Finally, use a small funnel or carefully pour the strained liquid into small bottles. Eyedropper bottles work well and make the tincture easy to administer. 
  • Put cute DIY labels on your bottles, if you wanna be extra bougie. You now have 4 whimsical little bottles of potent magic. 

Some folks take this tincture sublingually (under the tongue), which can speed activation time. However, I find this approach dangerous or at least uncomfortable given the strength of the alcohol. (Read: That shit burns.) I love mixing it in cocktails, or more typically, fizzy water with a squeeze of lemon. 

How about dosing? Well, like most unregulated cannabis recipes, it really depends. Start with just a couple of drops and see how you feel after an hour. If you don’t feel it, take a few more drops and increase every hour. As with many edibles, it can take trial and error to find your preferred dose. Seasoned cannabis users may use as much as a millimeter or more for intense highs. 

How long does it take to activate and how long will it last? Again, it varies by user and conditions. When I haven’t a meal recently, the cannabis tincture seems to act more quickly than when I’ve had a lot of food. Sometimes it’s as quick as a half hour for me, while others using this recipe have reported a 90-minute lag time. In my experience, the quicker the high comes on, the shorter it lasts, but you’ll still be good for a couple hours minimum. 

Hooray! Congrats on your four bottles of THC-filled wonder. Cannabis tincture goes delightfully with herby beverages, fuzzy blankets, and Looney Tunes. The apocalypse never seemed so chill. 

Art by Gabriella Shery

Gabriella Shery is an illustrator, graphic designer, and comic artist from Brooklyn, New York. You can find her work on Instagram at @gabshery, or on her website at http://gabriellashery.com.

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