The Difference Between CBD Oils and Tinctures

You may have recently found yourself researching all that you could about CBD oil and found yourself stumbling across a word you haven’t quite heard of— the CBD tincture. You may have even wondered if it was just a term that could be used interchangeably with CBD oil (it isn’t).

Although they’re both packaged very similarly, there are important distinctions that separate the two. 

What is CBD Oil?

CBD oil is usually a blend of CBD extract and a carrier oil, such as medium-chain-triglyceride (MCT) coconut oil. 

In order to formulate this oil, CBD and occasionally other compounds, such as flavonoids and terpenes, are extracted from the hemp plant. 

After the compounds are extracted from the plant material, they are mixed with the designated carrier oil. Essential oils are occasionally added to the mixture for flavor. 

What is a CBD Tincture? 

In contrast to CBD oil, a CBD tincture is an alcohol-based extract. High-proof alcohol is used in the extraction process of the natural compounds from cannabis and is also incorporated into the finished product. 

These liquids typically contain anywhere between 60 to 70 percent alcohol, with a shelf life of around 3 to 5 years. With that being said, the high alcohol content makes CBD tinctures bitter in taste. 

In order to conceal this bitterness, additives such as flavoring, sweetener, or vegetable glycerin are added to the tinctures. Some manufacturers may also mix herbal extracts, vitamins, or supplements like sleep-assisting melatonin into the product— all dependent on what the goal of the product is. 

Which is Better Than the Other? 

Honestly, there isn’t an objective answer to this— both products are effective in their own right. The key difference between CBD oils and CBD tinctures lies in the base ingredient and production process. You’ll have to decide what your goals and preferences are when deciding which one suits you and your needs best. 

For example, some people may choose CBD oil over a tincture because the bitter alcohol taste of the latter is off-putting, and others may choose a CBD tincture to avoid any stomach issues related to ingesting oil. 

CBD oil typically contains a fewer number of ingredients when compared to a tincture. It would behoove anyone with alcohol sensitivities to choose CBD oil over CBD tinctures. 

How to Take CBD Oils and Tinctures

The way to use your CBD oil or tincture depends on the product itself and what effects you’re aiming for. 

CBD oils can be ingested by the mouth, in which it’ll take about 1 to 2 hours for you to feel the effect. The best way for best results would be to put it under the tongue for 90 seconds before swallowing. CBD tinctures are also usually taken under the tongue for quick and efficient absorption of the product. 

Depending on the formula and carrier oil, certain CBD oils can be applied topically on the skin. This use will provide on-the-spot relief, as opposed to an entire-body effect. It isn’t recommended to apply a CBD tincture to your skin, as it won’t have any effect. 

Choosing a High-Quality CBD Oil or Tincture

Although you can find CBD products in drugstores and at mall kiosks these days, it doesn’t necessarily mean those products are of high quality or safe. Since the FDA doesn’t have a process to regulate CBD in the way that it does supplements and other drugs, it’s imperative that you choose your product wisely. 

Regardless of what type of CBD product you’re shopping for, it’s essential that you find a legitimate and reputable CBD manufacturer with current certificates of analysis (COA) for every one of their products.

COAs should ideally illustrate the following:

Potency: The amount of CBD listed on the product’s label should reflect the same number as the one listed on the COA. Although batches can vary here and there, you should avoid products with a noticeable variation  if the margin of difference is 10 to 20 percent. 

Cannabinoid profile: Full spectrum products consist of a small amount of THC. Broad spectrum products normally does not contain t THC, but it’s possible they contain other types of cannabinoids and terpenes. CBD isolate products solely contain CBD and CBD only. Many experts believe in what is called the entourage effect found in the full spectrum and partial entourage like the broad spectrum.  The multiple compounds included in these two products often enhances the benefit. 

Contaminants: Since hemp is grown by many different farmers all across the world, it’s prone to absorbing whatever pesticides, metals, and other toxins that are in the soil. Thus, make sure to check that your product has been tested for all these substances and that the plant is grown in the USA or Canada where farming regulations are strict. 

The date: Make sure the COA is recent— and matches the batch of products sold.  

Additionally, it’s important to ensure that a company is transparent about where they source their hemp from— domestically grown and organic is typically best. Look into their reputation and make sure they haven’t received any warning letters from the FDA. 


Even though the two products are often referred to interchangeably, CBD oils and CBD tinctures are not the same. 

To recap: CBD oils are made with two main ingredients— CBD and whatever the carrier oil is. On the other hand, CBD tinctures are alcohol-based, along with other ingredients that are added for specific benefits or flavor. 

The one you “should” choose really just depends on your personal taste and preferences, but you should always make sure that you do your due diligence in shopping wisely for high-quality products.

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