CBD Tinctures: Everything you need to know

There’s a lot of buzz out there around CBD oil, but another term you’ve probably heard tossed around is “CBD Tincture.”

Is that the same thing as a CBD oil?

Many people, and even CBD manufacturers, seem to think so. But there are some subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences.

Let’s dive in:

Tincture vs Oil

So, what’s the difference between a CBD oil and a CBD tincture?

There’s two ways to think about this question:

  1. How are oils and tinctures traditionally defined?
  2. How are the terms “oil” and “tincture” used today?

So there’s an “academic” difference in the terms, in how they were originally used, in the meaning they once carried.

And then there’s the way these two words are used today.

Language is fluid – it evolves. So rather than bemoaning the days of True Tinctures gone by, we’d be better off getting up to speed with the way people talk.

But to start things off, let’s look at the traditional difference between oils and tinctures.

CBD oils were traditionally made from CBD extracted from the hemp plant, and a carrier oil like MCT oil or coconut oil. That’s it – an extract, and a carrier. Oftentimes the CBD was extracted via a heatpress (imagine a really huge hair straightener) rather than using ethanol or C02.

And CBD tinctures were made by soaking hemp plant material (usually flower, but maybe stalks and stems too) in alcohol, then gently heated to induce absorption of the CBD into the alcohol base. The presence of alcohol can help increase absorption into the body (more on that later), and also acts as a natural preservative.

These days, the terms are less distinct. Many products labelled as CBD tinctures are actually oil-based. Very, very few tinctures are still suspended in alcohol (in fact, we don’t carry any that are alcohol-based).

The main difference between an oil and a tincture these days are the additional ingredients – typically, CBD oils are simply CBD extract and oil, and tinctures might have additional ingredients like flavoring, minerals, other plant extracts, or vitamins.

Suspension in alcohol

Traditionally, tinctures were suspended in alcohol. That’s no longer always the case – a lot of what you’ll see marketed as a tincture does not contain alcohol. But for the remaining tinctures that do use alcohol as a carrier, you’re likely to see increased absorption (or bioavailability) of CBD.

According to a study by Martin Katz and Martin Barr, solutions suspended in alcohol were more rapidly absorbed than those suspended in water, noting that “alcoholic solutions produced the greatest increase” in absorption.

So if you find yourself with a tincture that uses alcohol as its base, rather than oil or glycerin, you may see improved (or at least faster) results.

Additional Ingredients

Like we said, the main difference these days between a CBD oil and a CBD tincture is the additional ingredients.

Some might have flavoring, like this peppermint CBD tincture (which also contains a veritable smorgasbord of cannabinoids, including CBG, CBC, CBN, CBV, and of course CBD.

Some others might include other plant extracts like lavender, orange, and more.

In these cases, you’re getting not only a healthy serving of CBD, but you may benefit from the complimentary effects of other plant extracts as well.

Difference in uses

Both oils and tinctures are primarily intended to be taken sublingually (under your tongue), but they can have other uses as well. CBD oils are generally safe to use on your skin as well, whereas tinctures probably aren’t – due to the additional ingredients found in them. CBD oil is also better suited to be added to food than CBD tinctures, as heating could damage the ingredients found in tinctures. And of course, if your tincture is alcohol-based, heating it will probably cause it to evaporate.

The more you know

So now you know both the traditional and contemporary differences between CBD oils and CBD tinctures – the only thing left is to try one for yourself.