When you buy CBD online, CBD tinctures are undoubtedly the most common products you’re going to find. In the world of herbal and traditional medicine, a tincture is a preparation of a plant extract in which a plant’s active compounds are drawn out with a solvent. In most cases, alcohol is the solvent used in the preparation of a tincture. A plant is ground into small pieces and allowed to steep in the alcohol for some time. After steeping, the plant material is filtered out, and consuming the alcohol in small amounts gives you a simple way to enjoy the benefits of that plant whenever you like.
CBD tinctures work much as described above, with the one exception being that a CBD tincture almost never uses alcohol as a base. Although cannabis is soluble in alcohol, it’s also soluble in oil – which is much more palatable and easier to consume. Oil also doesn’t burn the mouth as alcohol can. For all of those reasons, a CBD tincture virtually always uses an oil such as hemp oil, MCT oil or olive oil as a carrier. So, that’s what a CBD tincture is: It’s an oil-based herbal supplement that contains the active compounds from industrial hemp plants.
Sounds pretty simple, right? Now that you understand what CBD tinctures are, you can start buying CBD products like a real pro. Before you jump in and start stocking up on CBD, though, you might have a few questions on your mind – and this article is going to answer them. You’re about to learn how CBD tinctures are made and how to use them. You’re also going to learn how CBD tinctures compare to other popular types of CBD products – but before we dig in too deeply, we’re going to answer the first question that we know must be on your mind. What’s the difference between CBD tinctures and CBD oil?
CBD Tinctures vs. CBD Oil
Thankfully, the answer to this question is incredibly simple. If you’re feeling at all confused about the differences between CBD tinctures and CBD oil, there’s no need because “CBD tincture” and “CBD oil” refer to exactly the same product. It’s theoretically possible to find a CBD tincture that uses alcohol rather than oil as a base. In practice, though, you’re extremely unlikely to find an alcohol-based CBD tincture except perhaps as a specialist product in a local dispensary. The vast majority of CBD consumers prefer oil-based CBD tinctures – so whether a particular product is labeled a CBD tincture or CBD oil simply comes down to how the manufacturer wants to market that product and what search engine terms that company is trying to capture.
How Are CBD Tinctures Made?
Although CBD and the other beneficial compounds in cannabis are oil soluble, it would be an extremely slow process to extract CBD from cannabis using oil alone. Instead, CBD brands use solvents that act much more quickly. There are two common ways of extracting CBD from cannabis.
- Carbon dioxide is the most common solvent used for CBD extraction. In this extraction process, ground cannabis flowers are put into a machine that floods the flowers with heated and pressurized CO2. The CO2 dissolves the membranes of the flowers and causes them to release their essential oils for collection. CO2 extraction is what most CBD consumers prefer because the finished product contains no trace solvents at all.
- Alcohol can also be used as a solvent for CBD extraction. Alcohol extraction is much cheaper than CO2 extraction, but it isn’t commonly used in the creation of CBD tinctures because consumers demand solvent-free products. It’s possible to remove the vast majority of the alcohol from the mixture simply by heating it until the alcohol evaporates – but unlike the CO2 extraction process, it’s difficult to guarantee with alcohol extraction that absolutely no residual solvents remain in the final CBD tincture.
After the CBD extraction is performed, the resulting product is a raw hemp distillate. In order to make the distillate into a finished CBD tincture, it needs to be blended with a carrier oil. You wouldn’t want to just consume hemp distillate; it’ll taste horrible, and it’ll also be far too strong. Mixing the distillate with a carrier oil dilutes the CBD to the desired strength and improves the flavor of the product.
Before a CBD company mixes its distillate with a carrier oil, some additional filtering and refinement will often be performed to improve the distillate’s flavor. The filtering removes unwanted plant-based compounds such as esters, waxes and chlorophyll, helping to ensure that the final product won’t have a bitter flavor. Once the filtering process is complete and the distillate has the desired flavor and strength, it’s mixed with a carrier oil and bottled as a finished CBD tincture.
How Do You Use a CBD Tincture?
One of the greatest things about a CBD tincture is its flexibility. You can simply put a dropper of oil in your mouth and swallow it, or you can mix it with a food or beverage. You can even rub a CBD tincture directly on your skin if you like. We discuss those ideas and others in our article about unusual ways to use CBD oil. If you have a particular way that you prefer to use CBD tinctures, that’s perfectly acceptable. You should do what works for you.
Despite what we’ve just said, though, the most common way to use a CBD tincture is to administer it sublingually. There’s a very good reason for that: Taking a CBD tincture sublingually is the fastest way to get the CBD into your system. To do it, you’ll fill a dropper with CBD oil and dispense the oil under your tongue. Hold the oil there for at least 30 seconds – or longer if you like – and swallow it.
CBD absorbs readily through the skin and mucus membranes, and one of the benefits of taking a CBD tincture sublingually is that it absorbs through the sublingual artery. The sublingual artery is close to the carotid artery, so it’s relatively central in your bloodstream. When you hold a CBD tincture under your tongue, the CBD begins to circulate through your body very quickly.
CBD Tinctures vs. CBD Gummies
When you’ve browsed the selections at various CBD websites, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that tinctures aren’t the only CBD products on the market. Far from it, in fact; there’s something available to suit just about any conceivable need. After CBD tinctures, CBD gummies are probably the most popular products on the market today. Here’s how CBD tinctures vs. CBD gummies compare.
- Since CBD gummies are sweetened, they taste great. They’re a good alternative if you don’t like the taste of CBD tinctures.
- When you take CBD gummies, the CBD doesn’t absorb into your system as quickly as it does with CBD tinctures because tinctures are taken sublingually. Absorption through the digestive system, on the other hand, can take an hour or more.
- CBD gummies make dosing easy because each gummy contains the same amount of CBD. When you measure a CBD tincture with a dropper, on the other hand, it’s difficult to be precise.
- CBD gummies are more discreet because they look like any other gummy supplement. When you take CBD gummies, it’s unlikely that people will start to ask uncomfortable questions about your health.
CBD Tinctures vs. CBD Topicals
You’ve probably also noticed that there are several CBD topicals on the market today. CBD topicals are CBD products designed for direct application to the skin. As we just mentioned above, though, you can actually rub a CBD tincture on your skin if you like. With that in mind, you might be wondering why you might want to buy a CBD lotion or balm if a CBD tincture can serve the same purpose. Here’s how CBD tinctures vs. CBD topicals compare.
- Although the CBD in a CBD tincture will absorb through the skin, absorption may be faster with CBD topicals because those products often have ingredients that enhance skin permeability.
- CBD topicals may also include ingredients selected to support specific skin health goals. For instance, a CBD topical may contain arnica or camphor to relieve soreness, or it might include aloe vera and healthy oils to moisturize the skin.
- CBD topicals aren’t flavored, but some CBD tinctures are. Citrus, for example, is a popular flavor for CBD tinctures. You may find certain flavors irritating to the skin. You also might not want to spend the day smelling like oranges.
- Since CBD tinctures don’t include ingredients to enhance skin permeability, the oil may sit on the skin for a while before it absorbs. CBD topicals tend to feel less greasy in comparison.
- The main benefit of using a CBD tincture on the skin is that it gives you an opportunity to find out what it’s like to use CBD topically without investing in a more expensive product designed for that purpose. If you have a good experience using the CBD tincture on your skin, you’ll probably have an even better experience with a CBD topical.