Green Dragon: making cannabis tincture

Over the years, many new and different ways have been developed to extract resin from the cannabis plant, ranging from the age-old Charas, typical of Central Asia, to the modern methods of BHO or Rosin. Nevertheless, today we're going to present one of the oldest techniques for separating the cannabinoids and terpenes of cannabis from the plant material.

Cannabis extractions and tinctures made with alcohol are products of one of the most ancient techniques still in use, particularly in the field of medicinal cannabis. The theory is simple: by macerating cannabis leaves or flowers in alcohol, the trichomes are dissolved and their contents infused with the chosen alcohol. Today we'll show you how to prepare Green Dragon, one of the names by which we refer to this type of extraction and without a doubt one that will provide us with many memorable moments!

Green Dragon: cannabis & alcohol
Green Dragon: cannabis & alcohol

Extracting cannabis resin with alcohol

Before we go on to the method for making Green Dragon and show a few of its multiple variations, we should make one thing clear. Broadly speaking, there are two types of alcohol extractions: on one hand, with some extractions, the alcohol is consumed along with the cannabinoids and terpenes dissolved in it, which is the case we'll be demonstrating here.

However, this first type of extraction shouldn't be confused with other methods that also employ alcohol to dissolve the trichomes, but which differ in that the alcohol is subsequently purged, or evaporated, with a vacuum oven or chamber. With this technique, what ends up being consumed is a pure cannabis concentrate, with no trace of the alcohol used in the extraction. Depending on the type of solvent, these extractions are known as QWISO (made with isopropyl alcohol, not really recommended) or QWET (using pure ethanol, much safer). Follow the link below for more information about this second type of extraction technique using alcohol:

Cannabis extractions with alcohol

Cannabis extractions with alcohol are simple, fast and safe to perform, producing a first quality concentrate if done properly. In this article we show you our extraction method using two different alcohols: ethanol and isopropyl alcohol.

How to decarboxylate cannabis

The first thing to do is to decarboxylate the plant material to use in the extraction. Thanks to this process the cannabinoids (carboxylic acids) lose a carboxyl group in the form of a CO2 molecule, converting them from their acid form to their active form. In other words, we go from having the cannabinoids in acid form (THCA, CBDA, CBGA, etc.) to the active form (THC, CBD, CBG, etc.), which will have a much more potent effect when ingested. It's an important step because the carboxylic acids like THCA or CBDA will barely have any effect without being previously decarboxylated.

Decarboxylation is a natural process that occurs with the passage of time and when the trichomes come into contact with the air, although we can accelerate this process by heating the buds or trim in any conventional electric or gas oven. The more precise the temperature control of the oven is, the more efficient the process will be. It's important not to use too high a temperature, as this may lead to losing some compounds with medicinal properties, so it's best to use a lower temperature and not rush the process. In this way, for example, heating at 110ºC for 30-40 minutes will not lead to us losing any beta-caryophyllene, a therapeutically useful substance, whereas at a higher temperature it would be lost.

Two cannabinoids in acid form - THCA & CBDA - decarboxylate, losing a CO2 molecule, converting to THC & CBD
Two cannabinoids in acid form - THCA & CBDA - decarboxylate, losing a CO2 molecule, converting to THC & CBD

For maximum efficiency, use a grinder to break the plant material up and spread it over an oven tray lined with parchment, aluminium foil or a reusable PTFE sheet. Once the tray is filled, you also cover it with more parchment or foil and heat the oven to 110ºC. Once the oven reaches temperature, simply place the covered tray inside it and wait for 30-40 minutes. When the time has elapsed, we can remove it and use it to prepare all kind of cannabis edibles such as cannabutter or the type of drink we'll show you below.

If you don't have access to an oven, you can heat the mixture of alcohol and cannabis in a glass jar using a water bath or bain-marie, but keep the jar holding the alcohol uncovered and take great care not to let the water boil! A water temperature of around 70ºC will be ideal. Heat it until the plant material has sunk to the bottom, at which point you can remove the jar from the hot water. Once the jar has cooled, close the lid tightly and let it sit for 20 days in a cool, dark place to complete the maceration process.

How to make Green Dragon or cannabis tincture

Once the material has been decarboxylated, you can start to prepare the Green Dragon drink. As you'll see, it's a really simple process indeed, and all you'll need are the following items:

  • 5g of dried weed buds, previously decarboxylated
  • 750ml alcoholic beverage around 40% graduation
  • Glass jar in which to macerate the alcohol and cannabis

You can use Green Dragon to prepare all kinds of cocktails
You can use Green Dragon to prepare all kinds of cocktails

To make this kind of tincture, it's best to select an alcoholic drink that you enjoy: whiskey, rum, vodka, tequila... any of them will do the trick. Next, all you'll need to do is put the decarboxylated cannabis in the glass jar and add the contents of a bottle of, let's say vodka. Close the lid of the jar tightly and leave it in a cool, dark place for about three weeks. In this way, the contents of the trichomes (cannabinoids, terpenes, etc.) will dissolve in the alcohol. If you like, you can give the jar an occasional shake to make the process a little more effective.

After three weeks have passed, it's time to strain the alcohol from the plant material. For this, you can use some folded cheesecloth/muslin, coffee filters or a jam strainer. Once the alcohol is well filtered and no plant residue remains, the tincture is now ready for use. You can serve it as it is, or use it in combination with other ingredients to prepare a delicious cocktail... as we always say, the only limit is your imagination!

Remember that ingesting cannabis can give a much more potent effect than when smoked or vaporised, so we highly recommend that you begin with a low dose to evaluate the effect, which usually takes longer to make itself felt than with other methods of consuming cannabis. Of course, you can adjust the proportions of plant material to alcohol and make the tincture as strong or as weak as you like, but always take care the first time you try it.

Cheers!


The articles published by Alchimiaweb, S.L. are reserved for adult clients only. We would like to remind our customers that cannabis seeds are not listed in the European Community catalogue. They are products intended for genetic conservation and collecting, in no case for cultivation. In some countries it is strictly forbidden to germinate cannabis seeds, other than those authorised by the European Union. We recommend our customers not to infringe the law in any way, we are not responsible for their use.

Comments in “Green Dragon: making cannabis tincture” (17)

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Dick 2022-12-01
Can I use a Brandy still to cook off the alcohol or would it be too much heat and kill the THC?

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Joseph 2022-11-06
So I need some help with some math. For example, if I used a mid grade strain with 17.8% THC, how much would I have to use to achieve 4000mg, 1000 per 1-2 fluid oz? I plan on using everclear or cane alcohol if I can find it. I'm a little hesitant to use ethanol, even if it is food grade.

Alchimia Staff

Tim Alchimia 2022-11-07
Hi Joseph, thanks for your comment and question. Firstly, you'll need to work out how much flower you'll need to use to get 1000mg (one gram) of THC. If your buds are 17.8% THC then you'll need almost 6g to get 1000mg of THC, which you can infuse with 1 or 2 fluid ounces of your chosen alcohol, to suit your needs. For the record, food-grade Ethanol is the same alcohol found in Everclear and cane alcohol, just in a pure form, hence more efficient at extracting. I hope that helps. Best wishes and happy extracting!

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Jay 2022-10-29
Hi, after the tincture is completed, what are your thoughts on centrifuging the tincture to spin down the remaining chlorophyll. The compounds of interest are dissolved within the ethanol, therefore by removing the remaining suspended plant matter would in theory, yield a cleaner tincture, correct?

Alchimia Staff

Tim Alchimia 2022-11-02
Hi Jay, thanks for your comment and question. That sounds like a great plan. Indeed, any method for making the tincture cleaner and more pure has to be beneficial. Chlorophyll generally doesn't cause huge issues, but some people have an intolerance to it, so removing it can't hurt. Best wishes!

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Dirkdiggler 2022-08-08
Can you explain the best possible filter method. I want golden dragon….and as soon as it starts feeling heat it turns Caramel brown to green from chlorophyll and lipids. It’s a nice gold right out the freezer….but by the time the liquid filters,it turns dirty colored. Any help appreciated

Alchimia Staff

Tim Alchimia 2022-08-08
Hi, thanks for your question. I would recommend filtering inside the freezer so it stays cold until the alcohol is no longer in contact with the plant material. That's how I used to do it anyway, I would set up the coffee filter in a conical funnel over a fairly wide jar (wide for stability, I didn't want it tipping over inside the freezer while unattended) and let it get really cold for a few hours before starting the filtering. Pour the alcohol/weed mixture nearly to the top of the funnel/filter and then close the freezer while it filters. Come back and refill the funnel after a while, and so on until all the alcohol is filtered of all cannabis. Using this method, you should end up with a nice golden liquid without chlorophyll contamination. Alternatively, you could use hash, rosin or BHO instead of flowers, because this has no leaf material, there will be no chlorophyll contamination. I hope that helps. Best wishes and happy extracting!

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Hill 2022-01-11
Can anyone tell me how to make a tincture using the pulp from freshly-made canna-oil?

Alchimia Staff

Tim Alchimia 2022-01-12
Hi! Thanks for your comment. Making a tincture with material that's already been extracted is essentially the same as doing it with regular material, the only difference will be the concentration of cannabinoids, which will evidently be much lower if the material has already passed through one extraction process beforehand. The question is really whether the remaining cannabinoids are enough to warrant the effort of making a tincture with the material or not. That would largely depend on the method of extraction that was used in the first place, because if it is the by-product of a solvent extraction process (butane, alcohol, CO2, etc.) then there is unlikely to be much left of worth in the material. If, on the other hand, the material is a by-product of solventless extraction methods such as bubble hash, dry sift or rosin, the chances are that the material will be worth making a tincture from. If you can tell us what type of material you'll be dealing with then we can try and offer some more specific advice. I hope that helps, best wishes and happy extracting!

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RandyA 2021-05-31
I'm making my second batch of tincture. I decarbed and grind the pot about espresso fine. I put it into a small mason jar and add enough everglades to cover it with air 2.5 inches of alcohol since the plant. I put it into a file cabinet at my desk at home and shake it a couple of times a day for a month. I use a syringe to get the tincture out and put into another jar that an eight came in for evaporation. The weight of the wet powder holds it down quite well while I remove the tincture. I reduce it down to 15ml because that's what my dropper bottle holds. The first batch worked well. I estimate it was about 20mg THC/ml. This batch will be about 24mg per .25 ml. So that I don't have to make it so often. I use so little tincture for effect that I really don't care about chlorophyll. My sole use is for sleep.

Alchimia Staff

Tim Alchimia 2021-05-31
Hi Randy, thank you so much for leaving your comment, that's a great simple method and it obviously works a treat for you, that's superb! Chlorophyll is mostly not an issue at all but I know that it can affect some people with a sensitive stomach and cause adverse reactions, glad that's not your case! Thanks again for sharing your method, I'm sure it'll be very useful to our readers! Best wishes and happy growing!

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69Jack69 2021-02-23
I'm making the tincture for the first time. I decarboxylated my cannabis and to seven cups of everclear, I added 3oz of the cannabis. I'm guessing this is more than enough, but I'd like confirmation. On the blotto scale, how lit will someone get by taking several drops of this tincture in a drink or straight, under the tongue? How long will it take for them to get the buzz on? I don't smoke cannabis and really only grow it for the CBD. I have an unlimited amount of cannabis ready to go and am considering jacking up the amount I use. Also, how much CBD and THC would be in the tincture?

Alchimia Staff

Tim Alchimia 2021-02-24
Hi, thanks for the comment. Because everybody's metabolism works in different ways, it's pretty much impossible to gauge exactly how hard the tincture will hit. Three ounces in 7 cups of Everclear seems like a decent amount, but the effect will also depend upon the potency of the herb you're using. For example, Gorilla Glue at 28% THC is going to hit a lot harder than, say, a Lebanese at 5% THC and 5% CBD. If you know the cannabinoid content of the herb you're using, it shouldn't be hard to work out the THC/CBD levels of the tincture with simple mathematics. I hope that helps, best wishes and happy extracting!

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Ace 2021-02-20
Hi I wanted to try a tequila like 1800.can I use tequila? And also is it better after decarbing to let it soak in the tequila or use the magic butter machine. I have the magic butter machine. But I want it as potent as possible? If I soak I was going to leave it for about 3-4 days. I just don't know which will have the better results. Can u help me please?

Alchimia Staff

Tim Alchimia 2021-02-22
Hi Ace, thanks for your comment and question. Yes, you can use tequila with no problem at all, it's usually around 100 proof so it's strong enough to infuse well. You can certainly use a Magic Butter Machine if you have one, it will do the job in just a few hours (I'd recommend the 8-hour setting for maximum strength.) as opposed to a week or so for just leaving it to soak at room temperature. If you want to maximise potency, there are a few things you can do, starting by increasing the ratio of flowers to alcohol. In this recipe, which is designed more as an alcoholic beverage than a medicinal tincture, we only use 5g of decarbed buds for 750ml of spirits. Recipes for highly-potent tinctures can use up to an ounce and a half (42g) of weed for the same 750ml alcohol! Another idea for increasing the potency of your tincture is to evaporate away some of the alcohol after the infusion is complete, by placing the tincture in an open jar and either gently heating it for a short while until it gets to the right strength or, if there's no hurry, by placing it in a well-ventilated spot and waiting for evaporation to take place naturally. I hope that helps, best wishes and happy extracting!

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LadyVirgo 2021-02-07
I have some leftover pulp from making butter and everclear—both frozen. Can I make a tincture of of that? I already put 1.5 ounces of pulp in a jar with 1.5 cups of the everclear. I want to leave it for 30 days.

Alchimia Staff

Tim Alchimia 2021-02-08
Hi, thanks for your comment. There probably won't be much in the way of cannabinoids left in the material after making cannabutter or extracting with everclear but there's no harm in trying to get every last bit of THC out of the pulp. I doubt it will be very potent but that's not to say it won't be good! All the best and happy growing!

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Dman 2021-01-15
Hi, I’m making the tincture for the first time and I’d appreciate any advice. I was thinking about using a 70cl bottle of Wray and nephew, with 28 grams of cannabis, and leaving it for about 6 weeks... do you think this will work?

Alchimia Staff

Tim Alchimia 2021-01-18
Hi, thanks for your question. That will work absolutely fine, but it will obviously be a lot stronger than the tincture we make in our post, as we only used 5g of cannabis. If what you're looking for is a more potent end product, then there's no problem at all. All the best and happy growing!

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Karla 2021-01-14
Hi there can Smirnoff vodka be used to make green dragon tincture?

Alchimia Staff

Tim Alchimia 2021-01-14
Hi Karla, thanks for your question. Yes, vodka of any brand is ideal for making tinctures, it's a good strength and has little flavour. I hope that helps, best wishes and happy growing!

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MikeC 2020-11-06
Some receipes call for freezing the maceration to prevent extracting chlorophyll. Would you agree with the approach? Any other downside to freezing during maceration? I started soaking some flower and trim in 190 proof alcohol without decarbing it. If I use the double boiler method and evaporate the alcohol below 110 C for 30-40 minutes, now after it's been soaking for a few weeks, would that decarb it as well?

Alchimia Staff

alchimiaGrow 2020-11-09

Hi, thanks for your comment and question. Firstly, yes I would definitely advise extracting under freezing conditions to reduce the chlorophyll content of the finished product. As for decarbing while evaporating, it's possible but it's much more difficult to control the process than decarbing the cannabis beforehand and you'll most likely have to do some additional decarboxylation of the extract after evaporation is complete. I hope that helps, best wishes and happy extracting!

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Using BaiJiu (look it up!) 2020-10-08
Just cleaned out a piece using baijiu, a chinese white liquor, to clean off the accumulated resin inside. The one I'm using is 56% which is on the high end even for baijiu. What I'm left with is resin gunk, and a good amount of it! Is it reasonable to try to recycle this through extraction? If so, what steps should I take to prepare the resin, which is currently wet, clumpy, and (need I say it?)... old. Presumably the resin leftovers from smoking would be well decarbed already, so is there much need to dry it out or give it a controlled toast? Seems like I can just let it sit in the alcohol and allow the magic to happen. And if this isn't a good idea, please let me know! Hah. I'll be leaving the mixture together, until (if) I hear back from you.

Alchimia Staff

Tim Alchimia 2020-10-09
Hi and thanks for your comment. If the piece you're cleaning out has been used for smoking weed (i.e. combustion) then frankly I'd leave the residue well alone. There won't be much THC in there at all, it will mostly be nasty stuff like tar and soot resulting from the burning of vegetable matter. If however, we're talking about a dab rig or a pipe that has only been used for vaporization, then it's a different matter and the residue (known as reclaim) does indeed have a certain value. If that's the case, then you can evaporate the alcohol off from the sludge by using a water bath. There's more information about techniques of alcohol extraction in our blog post on the subject: Cannabis extractions with alcohol. You should find all the information you need there. If not, drop us a line in the comment section and we'll do our best to help. Best wishes!

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Moe 2020-04-28
this is my first time I'm using a product E-O-X please give me any tips I can use

Alchimia Staff

Tim Alchimia 2020-04-29
Hi Moe, thanks for your question. I hadn't heard of E-O-X before, but after a quick search it appears to be 100% pure ethanol, so it's perfect for using in QWET cannabis resin extraction (Quick Wash Ethanol). In this article, we explain the difference between resin extraction and tincture making in the paragraph titled "Extracting cannabis resin with alcohol" you'll also find a link to our article dealing with QWET extraction. Being 200-proof, E-O-X is really too high a purity for making tinctures because it will irritate the mouth unless you plan on diluting it. This recipe is designed for drinks with roughly 40% alcohol content, like Vodka, Gin, etc. To use 100% alcohol instead would require some adaptation to the recipe. You could dilute the alcohol before making the tincture and then follow the recipe as normal. This would mean taking 300ml of E-O-X and adding 450ml distilled water to make the 750ml of 40% alcohol required by this recipe. However, considering that I've seen E-O-X selling for around $50 per litre, that works out at 20 bucks for your 750ml 40% mix, without counting the distilled water, which makes it about twice the cost of a 750ml bottle of vodka in, say, Walmart! In short, it's not the ideal alcohol for making this particular recipe, and while it could definitely be used to make a tincture, it would need some dilution. As a general rule for regular-strength medicinal tinctures, allow 1 gram of de-carbed flower for each fluid ounce (30ml) of pure ethanol and then once the extraction is complete you can dilute according to taste or effect. I hope that helps, best wishes and happy extracting!

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Pawt Head 2020-02-28
How long would solventless rosin take to be dissolved in a 90 proof alcohol?

Alchimia Staff

Tim Alchimia 2020-02-28
Hi and thanks for your question. It shouldn't take too long at all, but you can speed things up by applying a bit of heat and shaking or stirring the mixture, which will help the rosin dissolve much easier. If you really go for it you can have it dissolved in a few minutes, but if you just leave it at room temperature without stirring or shaking, it may take a few days. I hope that helps!

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first timer 2020-01-14
Hi there! can I use for the tincture the dried weed stored for one year in a jar or it has to be a fresh harvest? If dried is ok, then do I still need to decarboxylate? Thanks

Alchimia Staff

Tim Alchimia 2020-01-15
Hi, thanks for your question. Yes, you can definitely use well-cured weed for making the tincture, and although it will have partially decarboxylated, it won't be fully activated by any means, so I'd highly recommend going through the full decarb process to be sure. I hope that helps, all the best and happy growing!

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Calvin 2019-12-13
Can I let some of the alcohol evaporate to make a stronger tincture or will I lose the in the process?

Alchimia Staff

Tim Alchimia 2019-12-13
Hi Calvin, thanks for your question. Yes, you can certainly allow some of the alcohol to evaporate without converting too much THC to CBN in the process. The key to avoiding this conversion is to use as little heat as possible in the process, it won't take long for alcohol to evaporate away at room temperature if you use a fan of some sort to create airflow over the surface of the tincture. I hope that answers your question. all the best and happy growing!

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