CBD Tinctures vs CBD Oils

CBD Tinctures vs CBD Oils by Jessica Rosslee at CBD Origin

Picture this: you’re researching CBD products and trying to figure out which CBD products are best for you. And if you’re anything like me, you stumble across two products that both seem almost perfect but are all too similar to try to make an informed decision. Well, don’t worry- I went and did all the research for my own choice, and now I’m going to share all of that valuable information with you. Right here. So sit back, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and let’s dig in.

But, why the confusion between a CBD oil and a CBD Tincture?

The CBD and hemp market felt its first boom as 2017 began ending off. By the beginning of 2018, businesses (who likely didn’t know better) were jumping on the hemp bandwagon and used the terms CBD oils and CBD tinctures interchangeably. And so, naturally, the public began associating the tincture with a dropper bottle.

The beginning is as good a place to start as any. So, let’s start with the most critical component of both products: CBD.

Quick Look: Main Differences Between CBD Oils and CBD Tinctures

CBD Tinctures vs CBD Oils

Both CBD oil and CBD tincture use natural plant extracts to deliver CBD to your body. The main difference between them is how those extracts are produced. 

  • CBD oil is prepared by extracting cannabidiol from the cannabis plant and mixing it with inert carrier oils (such as hemp seed oil), whereas CBD tincture is prepared by suspending cannabidiol in 60-70% distilled alcohol and adding other additives such as peppermint or vanilla extract. 
  • CBD oil is typically used for vaping or for topical products, whereas CBD tincture is generally used sublingually (under the tongue) or mixed with your favorite drink for an easy way to take CBD daily.
  •  A CBD tincture is not heated to decarboxylate the acids found in the cannabis plant. Whereas CBD oil is. For this reason, a tincture may taste considerably different from oil, and it may also contain additives for flavoring or preservation purposes.
  • CBD oil has a shorter shelf life, whereas CBD tinctures last longer. But why? CBD oils are typically made with fewer ingredients than a tincture. But, this can vary according to the brand. 
  • Many online articles will tell you that CBD oils will be more potent than a CBD tincture. But I am not entirely sold on that. If you want to compare the potency between a CBD tincture and a CBD oil, you should check the cannabinoid levels and CBD content. To do this, you should check the label and then compare that with the third-party lab report.

Quick CBD Recap: What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is all the rage right now. CBD has been used as a natural remedy for centuries. Recent studies have found that it may have anti-inflammatory properties and help with anxiety, pain, and nausea.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most abundant chemical compounds in the cannabis plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD has no intoxicating effects and will not make you “high.”

That’s why CBD is quickly becoming a common ingredient in products that claim to help with everything from pain relief to relaxation. But what is CBD? And how can it help you?

I know how confusing it can be when you first hear about CBD, so I wanted to take some time to break down what CBD is and what it isn’t. Here’s the scoop!

CBD stands for cannabidiol. It’s one of over 100 compounds found in cannabis that belong to the chemical family known as cannabinoids. These chemicals interact with cannabinoid receptors in the body to produce pharmacologic effects—but not all cannabinoids are created alike.

When CBD enters the body, it interacts with receptors in your endocannabinoid system, regulating many physiological processes such as pain response, mood, memory, appetite, movement, and immune system function.

The medical benefits of CBD are unclear, but research is ongoing. In fact, many people use CBD as an alternative medicine to treat everything from anxiety to arthritis.

However, most research has been done on animals or isolated cells. There have been some clinical trials with humans, but not many. And the results have been mixed—some animal studies have shown promising results. In contrast, others have not, and analyses in humans haven’t shown anything conclusive so far.

Here’s what research and anecdotal reports tell us so far:

  • Anxiety & depression
  • Acne and skin related problems
  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Nausea
  • Seizures

Many different CBD products are available to consumers, and each offers its own unique benefits.

With the popularity of CBD products in recent years, more and more companies have started manufacturing these items. As a result, CBD products are now popping up in various forms.

CBD oils are CBD products separated from the cannabis plant through distillation. At the same time, CBD tinctures are taken orally with a dropper or mixed into food or drinks. Other types of CBD products include capsules, sprays, and topical lotions. Each of these CBD products can come in varying strengths, so it’s essential to be mindful of the amount that you use.

What is CBD Oil?


It’s used by millions of people worldwide—and yes, that includes plenty of famous people!—to treat a wide range of issues, including everything from insomnia to depression.

But that doesn’t paint the most precise picture for you, does it? So here we go:

CBD oil is easy to use but not always easy to understand.

Let break it down for you: CBD oil is basically just a blend of CBD extract 

and some kind of carrier oil (most commonly, MCT coconut oil). The CBD extract is the part that has all the therapeutic properties, but it’s not water-soluble. Hence, a carrier oil makes it easier to administer.

Creating CBD oil starts with the extraction of the compounds that can be used to make it. In the case of cannabidiol, or CBD, this may include compounds like terpenes and flavonoids. This extraction takes place using a process called distillation or CO2 extraction. 

After the desired compounds are collected during the extraction process, they are mixed with a carrier oil. Sometimes, if the manufacturer wants to change up the flavor or scent of their product, they’ll add a few drops of essential oils into the mix.

Finding CBD oil is much easier than finding a CBD tincture, and they’re not the same thing!

What is a CBD Tincture?

A CBD oil will usually be an oil you can drink or put on your face, whereas a CBD tincture usually comes in a dropper bottle.

CBD oils are also more common than CBD tinctures. Most products labeled “CBD oil tincture” and even some labeled “CBD tincture” are actually oils.

Tinctures are most associated with the act of mixing alcohol with something else. It’s not a new process, and it has been around for hundreds of years.

There’s a lot of history and culture wrapped up in tinctures, but today we’re going to focus on the way tinctures are used in the modern world.

Speaking very generally, tinctures are commonly used as an herbal supplement in liquid form. Some companies might also add vitamins, herbal extracts, or supplements like melatonin, depending on the goal of the product.

CBD tinctures are made by extracting CBD (and other compounds) from the hemp plant using alcohol as a solvent. The finished product is a highly concentrated liquid that can be taken orally or added to food and drinks. 

Tinctures are one of the most popular ways of taking CBD because they are easy to use. The dropper allows you to accurately measure your serving size.

Tinctures are often mixed with sweeteners, flavorings, and vegetable glycerin to mask the bitterness. Aside from the above additives that change the taste of tinctures, you might come across some tinctures with other ingredients- such as melatonin, for example, to boost specific properties. If a tincture has added melatonin, it is likely to be marketed as a sleep aid to try achieve a more restful state of mind before your head hits the pillow. In my experience, these products are not a one-hit-wonder- they need to be used consistently for you to begin feeling the effect. I noticed that after a week or so of using a melatonin-infused CBD tincture about an hour before I wanted to go to sleep, I began finding it easier to fall asleep. 

CBD tinctures are not very common in the CBD industry for a few reasons.

First of all, most tinctures don’t taste very good. If you’ve ever tasted a tincture, you probably know that they tend to be bitter and unpleasant. 

This is because the CBD extraction process uses alcohol to dissolve the CBD from the plant material—and if it’s not filtered correctly, that can leave behind a very unpleasant aftertaste.

Secondly, many products are labeled as “CBD tinctures” when they’re actually oils. So if you’re looking for pure CBD using an alcohol-based extraction method, make sure you choose a product that’s actually a tincture!

Which is Better? CBD Tinctures or CBD Oils?

Which is Better  CBD Tinctures or CBD Oils

There are a few things to consider when selecting between alcohol-based and oil-based tinctures.

Taste is the most common reason to choose an oil-based tincture over an alcohol-based tincture. If you find that you dislike the taste of alcohol, an oil-based tincture will be preferable for you.

In addition to taste, stomach sensitivity also dramatically impacts your choice between oil and alcohol. If you have a sensitive stomach, you may want to avoid ingesting any oils. Instead, choose an alcohol-based tincture.

Finally, certain CBD products can be mixed with food or beverages but may not mix well with others. If your chief concern is making sure your CBD product mixes well with the foods or beverages you consume, this is another consideration in deciding what type of CBD product is best for you.

A tincture will often contain more ingredients than an oil, including added flavors and sweeteners. If you’re sensitive to one of those ingredients, an oil may be a better choice for you. Also, if you tend to lean towards products with fewer ingredients in general, an oil may be a good fit for that reason as well.

How to Take CBD Oils and Tinctures

CBD Oils and Tinctures

The thing about CBD oil is that it can take 1 or 2 hours to kick in. So if you’re new to taking it, we recommend starting with a smaller dose than you think you might need. And then wait at least an hour before deciding whether or not you want to take more. Or try taking a higher dose of your CBD oil next time. 

You can also try applying your CBD oil under your tongue, where the veins there will absorb it more quickly than if you just swallow it right away. This is how to use a CBD Tincture as well.

It goes through your digestive system and into your bloodstream when you ingest CBD. Since the area under the tongue has a greater concentration of blood vessels than anywhere else in the body, CBD is taken sublingually (meaning, below the tongue) gets absorbed quickly and efficiently into the bloodstream.

The fastest way to feel the effects of CBD is to take it sublingually—it’s just going to hit your system faster than if you took it orally. And that’s not all: since CBD is fat-soluble, it is also absorbed by fatty tissues in the body. So when you take CBD sublingually, it prevents it from getting metabolized in your liver before it’s had a chance to work its magic!

Some CBD oils can be applied to the skin as long as they use carrier oils that are safe (and effective) for topical use. But I strongly suggest that you use a CBD product designed for topical use if you want to experience the best results possible. And if you have a CBD tincture, you should know that a tincture won’t penetrate the skin, so don’t waste it by putting it on your skin.

How to Find a Good CBD Oil or Tincture

While CBD oils can be found at certain shops, drugstores, and mall kiosks, it is crucial to do research about the manufacturer of the product before buying. When shopping for CBD products, it’s essential to know what you’re paying for. The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate CBD in the same way it does conventional drugs and supplements, so it’s critical to know what you’re buying. 

No matter what kind of CBD product you’re considering, it’s essential to find a reputable CBD manufacturer that provides current and comprehensive certificates of analysis (COA) for all of their products.

The most reputable CBD manufacturers make sure their supplements are third-party tested by a reputable laboratory. A good CBD product should come with third-party testing results. These are typically called COA (or certificates of analysis).

Here is What the Certificate of Analysis Should Tell you


Product potency is determined by the total CBD and THC amounts listed on the certificate of analysis (CoA). The amount of CBD and THC in each batch varies slightly, so the exact percentages may vary slightly from product to product. But if it varies more than 10 to 20 percent, you should consider choosing a different product.

Cannabinoid Profiles

The cannabinoid profiles are a breakdown of the cannabinoids found in the product; these profiles are an excellent place to start. Products labeled “full spectrum” usually contain small amounts of THC (but usually no more than 0.3 percent). Broad-spectrum products will have a comprehensive list of cannabinoids. Still, they shouldn’t contain THC., and then the final type, the CBD isolate products, should contain only CBD. If your product is labled as a CBD Isolate but contains a range of other cannabinoids, it’s time to start shopping for another CBD oil or product that actually contains what they advertise. 


Make sure your CBD oil is pesticide- and petrochemical-free. The contaminants in an oil or tincture are likely to vary product to product, but make sure that the oil or tincture never contains any heavy metals or molds. 

Check the Date

A COA should never be older than a year old, so always check the date! The best brands will batch-test their products, so be sure to identify the COA’s date and (hopefully) the batch number. 

Besides looking for an affordable brand that provides certificates of analysis, it’s smart to shop for a hemp brand that makes its sourcing and manufacturing practices completely transparent. Does the brand have a good reputation among online communities? This can also help you find out whether they have a bad rep with the FDA, too- keep an eye out for warning letters sent to them by the FDA!

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Are CBD Oils the Same and CBD Tinctures? 

Answer: Sure, they have similar names, but are they the same? They most certainly are not! The most fundamental difference is this; CBD oils are made with a base oil while the tinctures are extracted using alcohol, and the base is alcohol as well. 

Question: How Long Does it Take CBD Oil or Tincture to Kick in?

Answer: When you ingest CBD orally, it has to pass through the digestive system before you begin feeling the effects, which can take around one hour! When you ingest a tincture, on the other hand, you typically place a few drops underneath your tongue. This speeds up the process because there are blood vessels underneath your tongue. The compounds get absorbed faster, directly into the bloodstream. 

Question: How Long Should I Hold a CBD Tincture Under my Tongue?

Answer: All it takes is 60 seconds for your blood vessels underneath your tongue to absorb the CBD from the tincture. This is a huge plus for people looking for rapid onset of effects without resorting to things like vapes.

When you consume CBD orally, it goes through the digestive system before being absorbed by the body. This means that it must go through a lengthy process. It is metabolized, inhibited by the liver, and ultimately produces only a small percentage of effects compared to when you place CBD under your tongue and let it absorb directly into your bloodstream.

The good news is that placing CBD oil under your tongue allows it to bypass digestion and become rapidly absorbed directly into the bloodstream. And unlike CBD oil ingested sublingually—or in any other way—bypassing digestion also allows you to avoid the unpleasant taste of many CBD products.

Now, you might be asking yourself: Why do I care whether CBD gets into my bloodstream or not? The answer is simple: vaping, edibles, and tinctures will produce an effect over time as they are metabolized in your liver. However, since there is no metabolism when you take CBD sublingually (meaning “under your tongue”), you immediately experience the full effects of CBD upon application!

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a CBD product that packs a punch, you’ve probably heard of CBD tinctures. But what are they? And how are they different from CBD oils?

CBD oils and tinctures are two different products, but some manufacturers use the terms interchangeably. This can make it confusing to tell the difference between the two. But there is one—and knowing which product you’re buying will help you get the right one for your needs.

CBD oil is typically made with just two ingredients: CBD and carrier oil. That’s it! This can be made by steeping CBD-rich flowers in high-proof alcohol for an extended period of time, then straining out the plant material and adding a few additional ingredients for flavor and benefits beyond CBD. It’s designed to be taken sublingually or under the tongue.

CBD tinctures are alcohol-based extracts that use high-proof alcohol to steep the plant material. This is strained, and the entire solution is bottled, along with additional ingredients for flavor or specific benefits. The right product for you will depend on your preferences, but wisely make a point of shopping. Be sure to talk with your doctor before taking any new supplements because some could interfere with existing medication. 

Further readings:

Hemp vs Cannabis

What’s the Difference Between CBD Gummies and Hemp Gummies?

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