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How To Tell The Difference Between CBD Tinctures & Oils - Erth Wellness

How To Tell The Difference Between CBD Tinctures & Oils


The market for cannabis is growing at an incredibly fast pace. New products and compounds are introduced almost daily, making it somewhat difficult to keep up with all that the fascinating plant has to offer. One of the biggest struggles comes when trying to differentiate between what an “oil” versus a “tincture” is. Aren’t they the same? Not quite. While the industry often uses both terms interchangeably, there are some specific nuances that set the two apart. In this article, we’ll be clearly defining those nuances and recommending some of our preferred CBD oils at the end of the article. But first, let’s do a quick recap on what CBD is and how it may help.

CBD: What Is It?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, one of over 100 compounds found in the hemp plant. These compounds are classified as psychoactive (i.e., will get you high) or non-psychoactive (won’t get you high but can still improve mood and other mental health benefits) cannabinoids. CBD is the most abundant cannabinoid and is infused into a variety of products. Edibles, inhalables, and sublinguals are all readily available in full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD Isolate options. Edibles like gummies, softgels, and baked goods are traditionally the more popular product types due to how easy they are to consume, but tend to have a low bioavailability due to being processed in the digestive system. On the other hand, inhalables like pre-rolls, CBD vape juice, and flower have a very high bioavailability since they bypass the digestion system completely and enter into the bloodstream via your lungs. Last but not least, there are sublinguals. This category is what we’ll be explaining in greater detail as it relates to both tinctures and oils.

What Are CBD Oils?

In order to create a CBD “oil,” the actual oil must be extracted from the stalks, seeds, and flowers of the hemp plant. This precious oil is extremely pure and potent, which is why earlier forms of CBD oils were outrageously expensive. Thanks to advances in technology and science, CBD oils are much more affordable and readily available.


The oil extracted from the hemp plant contains essential vitamins, fatty acids, nutrients, and proteins found naturally that deliver additional benefits to the consumer. Yet the richness of the CBD oil poses a problem as your body attempts to process and distribute it to areas needed. This is why manufacturers will infuse the CBD oil into a base/carrier oil, thus making it easier for the body to absorb. Some common carrier oils are MCT oil, hemp seed oil, coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, or even oils with a vegetable glycerin base.

What are CBD Tinctures?

The word “tincture” has Latin origins from the word “tinctura” and in pharmacology refers to a specific medicine that has been extracted from a plant into an alcohol base. In everyday vocabulary, the word also involves anything that leaves residue or traces behind (i.e., aged whiskey can leave behind a tincture of the oak barrel, departing from loved ones can leave a tincture of remorse, etc.). In CBD products, tinctures contain an alcohol base between 60-70% and contain extracts of hemp along with flavorings to enhance the taste. In stark contrast with CBD oils, tinctures do not have high CBD contents, thus making them somewhat less effective than an oil. Yet tinctures boast a much higher bioavailability due to the presence of either isopropyl or ethyl alcohol, allowing the body to absorb the CBD much more quickly. Some tinctures are water-soluble, meaning they can be broken down even faster.

CBD Tincture Ingredients

CBD tinctures tend to have many other ingredients in their composition, whereas CBD oils only have two (extracted CBD and carrier oil). Tinctures tend to have many ingredients to enhance their overall use and enjoyability. You may find other vitamins like B12, C, and D to enhance the usefulness. Some tinctures are water-based, meaning there will be a higher content of water instead of alcohol. Sweeteners and flavorings may be added to enhance the taste, along with essential oils like lavender or basil for the scent. You may even find herbs or melatonin added in to increase the benefits for the consumer.

Ways To Help Differentiate Between CBD Tinctures & Oils

While the words “tinctures” and “oils” may often be used interchangeably, there are some ways to tell the two apart. Some will be instantly recognizable while others may require a bit of sleuthing to distinguish an oil from a tincture.

The Base

All CBD oils require a base of cannabidiol extract, whereas tinctures will typically have an alcohol base. Both tinctures and oils deliver identical therapeutic benefits and are used to alleviate inflammation, help users manage stress, quell uneasiness, and much more.

Consumption Method

Some CBD oils can be vaped, but only if it states so on the manufacturer website and directions for use. Tinctures, on the other hand, should never be vaped. Some users opt to sprinkle tincture onto their foods and swirl into their beverages (though this method greatly reduces the bioavailability as now it must be processed by your digestive system) whereas others simply prefer to release it under the tongue, hold for a minute or two, and then swallow.

Recommended Amount To Consume

Regardless if you’re consuming oils or tinctures, there’s no magic number across the board that works for everyone. The amount to consume will vary based on your metabolism, height, weight, intents and purposes for CBD consumption, age, previous exposure to CBD, and others. Most brands will list the recommended serving size to help new and inexperienced users know where to start. That recommendation may need to be tailored to your specific needs. Yet CBD oils are much more potent than tinctures, meaning you should need substantially less to consume. Most manufactures will recommend 1-3 teaspoons of CBD oil per day whereas CBD tincture may recommend an entire dropperful per session. The important thing is to ensure you’re consuming the amount of CBD consistently to see improvement over time.

Taste Variations

CBD oils typically are not enjoyable to consume, as the oily texture can remain on your teeth and tongue, and is often unflavored. The bitter taste of hemp can be a turnoff for some people and drinking water may exacerbate the flavor due to the oil stubbornly remaining. Tincture, on the other hand, can come in a wild variety of flavors: vanilla, chocolate, citrus, fruits, mint, etc. Since tinctures are best consumed sublingually, many brands will try to make it taste somewhat pleasant to encourage future use.

Cost Differences

As with any CBD product, prices will vary depending on several factors. How strong the product is, how potent the blend is, the extraction method used, the brand, and others all play a role in how expensive the tincture or oil will be. However, a general rule of thumb is to avoid suspiciously low-priced CBD products, as the ingredients may be cheaply sourced, the extraction method may not be top tier, and the overall effectiveness will be low. In general, a CBD oil should be slightly more expensive than a tincture, with both ranging anywhere from $30-$50.

Shelf Life

The two simple ingredients of CBD oils (CBD & the carrier oil) often means that their shelf life is short. If you decide to splurge on CBD oil, you’ll want to use it quickly and consistently to ensure that none of the product goes to waste. Spoiled or expired CBD oils will appear cloudy or foggy through the glass, though this may be difficult to see if the bottle is stained darkly to prevent deterioration.

In comparison, CBD tinctures contain an alcohol base (ethyl or isopropyl), effectively becoming a preservative that extends the life of the product. Tinctures may also come in a darkly stained or tinted bottle, but will typically last longer on the shelf. For best use, try to keep both tinctures and oils away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures (cold or hot), preferably in a cool dark place.


While the CBD industry continues to use the terms “tinctures” and “oils” interchangeably, thanks to this article now you can tell the difference! CBD oils are comprised of two ingredients (CBD and a carrier oil), are usually more potent, require lower doses, typically have a short shelf life, and can often be more expensive. CBD tinctures can contain several ingredients, are generally easier to consume as the taste and flavor are enhanced, have a lower potency but offer a greater bioavailability, tend to last much longer, and are generally more affordable. Both tinctures and oils deliver the CBD your body needs to restore your overall health and wellness, and are readily available from a variety of brick-and-mortar and online CBD shops.

Here at ERTH Wellness, we pride ourselves on having some of the finest CBD tinctures and CBD Vape Juice in the industry. Our premium products are priced affordably and have undergone rigorous testing by third-party independent labs to ensure the maximum purity and potency is available to our customers. If you’re not quite sure which CBD product to choose or would like more information about CBD in general, we encourage you to reach out to us with all your questions and concerns! Our knowledgeable team looks forward to helping you navigate through the confusion and wrong information that often muddies the hemp industry, ensuring you find a product that best meets your needs. In our next article, we’ll be discussing whether or not you should vape certain CBD products. Armed with the knowledge of this article, we’re excited to build on this new information and take it to the next level. We hope to see you again soon for this topic and countless other regarding the wonderful world of cannabis. Until we meet again!

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