Cannabis, meet Glycerin…

 In Dispensary Dish

Glycerin is a sweet syrup-like substance that is chemically related to alcohol. It is a by-product of soap and candle manufacture, where fats and oils are broken down into glycerin and fatty acids by the use of high pressure steam. It is colorless, odorless, viscous and of low toxicity. It is 60% as sweet as table sugar (sucrose) with a comparable caloric density. It is absorbed in the human body at a rate 30% slower than sucrose and thus has a lower glycemic index. Three common bases of glycerin are animal fats, soybean oil and coconut oil. We are currently using an organic, non-gmo soybean derived product to manufacture our glycerin tinctures (also referred to as glycerites). The primary advantage of making tinctures with glycerin is to avoid using alcohol so that people with alcohol sensitivities can have access to these forms of extracts. Alcohol is generally regarded as both a superior solvent and preservative when compared to glycerin. Some studies report that glycerin has the capability of only holding 33% the amount of cannabis oil that alcohol can. Thus, it is widely recommended that doses be increased when using glycerites as opposed to alcohol tinctures in order to receive a comparable effect. However, due to the different chemical reactions that are inherent in the two solvents (the way that these solvents break apart the plant material to access their components, or “information” as we like to refer to phyto-chemicals and nutrients), others argue that glycerin actually delivers a more potent extract because it preserves the protein structures of the information that is sought after in the botanical being extracted. Glycerin may capture less information, but the information that it does glean is complete. Alcohol, conversely, has the potential to denature botanical constituents, rendering them inert, because our bodies can no longer “read” or access the information. We believe that both solvents have their place and that their benefits are registered differently in each individual. A glycerin tincture can be just as powerful as an alcohol tincture, at the right time, for the right person, in the right dose. As with any first time experience with one of our products, we recommend that you begin with low doses so that you may register your own individual response to the medication. With this information, you can have the confidence to build your own process of self medication. Stored properly, in containers tightly sealed in low light environments, glycerin tinctures have an approximate 1 year shelf life.

There are two ways that glycerin tinctures can be prepared, the hot and the cold extraction methods. The cold method takes months (3-12 for best outcomes) to complete and results in a more floral, aromatic product as the terpenes in the cannabis are not dispersed by the application of heat. A cold method extract is made simply by combining cannabis flowers with the glycerin and letting it soak in an airtight container stored in a cool, dark place. The container is agitated daily in order to encourage the extraction process. After a set period of time (best after 60 days), the glycerite is strained and the process begun again with fresh flowers using the glycerin extract that was just created. This layering is a process of potentization. Beautifully aromatic, tasty and effective tinctures are made this way. We are experimenting with extended periods of saturation to learn more about how this effects potency, flavor and aroma. After the final saturation, the glycerite can be gently heated to enable decarboxylation. We  keep temperatures below 180F as this preserves the most terpenes while slowly decarboxylating the THC, preventing it from degrading to CBN. Our first cold extraction glycerin tincture will be available the week of the Summer Solstice in 2014.

The hot extraction method produces an effective tincture in a matter of days as heat is used to accelerate the transfer of cannabinoids. This glycerite has more of a toasted flavor as the terpene content of the cannabis is diminished during the cooking process. Temperatures are once again kept under 180F in order to keep this loss to a minimum. This method requires a long and low method of cooking with repeated stirring in order to encourage the extraction process. The glycerin and cannabis are combined in a glass jar and placed in a hot oil bath. We prefer oil because it does not evaporate during the process as water does, a concern due to the time involved. The temperature of the glycerite is gently raised and lowered several times over a 24 hour period. The length of this process is determined by preference concerning potency and flavor. Longer cook times create a more robust tasting tincture, but run the risk of passing by peak decarboxylation, the point at which maximum THC content begins to fade into CBN production. Particular attention is paid to the variances that occur in decarboxylation based on strain. We have noticed throughout our extensive decarb experiences that each strain reacts differently to temperature and time. We utilize your senses to gauge the effectiveness of the decarb process. Sometimes this is just as effective as the hard data that can be received from a lab. The color, scent, taste and texture of the cannabis during the decarb process gives us obvious clues about where we are on the spectrum. When the hot extraction method has been completed to our satisfaction, the glycerite is left to cool and rest. The plant material settles to the bottom of the jar so that the final product can be easily poured off to strain.

CVD’s first heat extracted glycerin tincture is now available. It can be consumed on its own, sublingually, as you would an alcohol or olive oil extract. It is also a great addition to our Companion Botanical Tea Blends. One dropper will add delicious flavor and sweetness while also aiding the medicinal effect.