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CBD Oil vs. CBD Tincture: Are They the Same Thing?

Green Shoppers Written by Green Shoppers
Updated on December 13, 2018

CBD is huge news lately. Everyone who’s anyone is desperate to get their hands on some CBD, with the health and wellness trend sweeping the nation.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the many active compounds, called cannabinoids, found in the CBD plant. Despite the erroneous beliefs of some, CBD is completely non-psychoactive and thus won’t produce a high. However, it can have some pretty incredible benefits for the consumer as it helps to maintain the body’s homeostasis – CBD has the ability to help keep our bodies in balance.

With these benefits coming to light, it’s no wonder the CBD industry is booming. Now, there is a huge range of products available to consumers, with the most popular being CBD oils and tinctures.

There is actually a lot of confusion surrounding the terms ‘oil’ and ‘tincture,’ which is why we are here today to clear this up. Are CBD oils and CBD tinctures the same thing?

What Does ‘CBD Oil’ Refer to?

Here in the UK, CBD oils are produced from industrial hemp. This plant is a cousin of marijuana that doesn’t contain much of its infamous psychoactive ingredient, THC. With CBD oils, the cannabidiol is extracted most commonly through CO2 extraction.

Although this method is expensive, it is the safest and purest method for extracting cannabinoids. It requires specialised equipment and trained experts to carry out, but the high quality of the final product makes it worth it.

Once the CBD is extracted, it is suspended in an inert oil such as MCT oil or coconut oil. CBD oils are taken sublingually, which means placing a few drops beneath your tongue and holding it there for up to 90 seconds before swallowing. Through this method, the CBD is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream via the capillaries under the tongue.

What is a CBD Tincture?

By definition, a tincture is a medicine made by dissolving a drug in alcohol. They are very similar to CBD oils in that they contain high levels of CBD and, at least in Great Britain, very low levels of THC.

In order to make them, the plant matter is dissolved in high-proof alcohol or another solvent. The alcohol acts as a preservative, but is also a low-calorie alternative to oils that are high in saturated or unsaturated fats.

Tinctures are a very old, traditional way of administering medicine, but clearly they are still used today.

Similarly to CBD oils, tinctures can be taken sublingually. In precisely the same way, you hold the tincture beneath your tongue and swallow after 90 seconds.

Are They the Same Thing?

While the above sections describe traditional forms of CBD oils and tinctures, these definitions might not map neatly onto how they are used today. In fact, the terms are now more-or-less used interchangeably. They are applied using the same method, and they both contain similar ingredients. While they are both usually taken sublingually, both can be applied onto the skin and used as a topical treatment.

In terms of buying CBD products nowadays, you’ll have to dig deeper into certain things to figure out whether you’re actually buying an oil or a tincture, as manufacturers may use either term.

Production Method

As mentioned above, the principle method for CBD extraction is to use carbon dioxide. In this process, the CO2 is heated to a supercritical temperature and the pressure is increased until it enters a supercritical state. In this state, CO2 acts somewhat like a solvent; like both a liquid and a gas.

Using an extraction chamber, the supercritical CO2 is passed over the plant material, where it saps out the cannabinoids and terpenes. These are then collected to be made into a CBD oil, while the CO2 is recycled and used in the process again.

The CO2 extraction method is very safe and results in a high-quality product, which is why most manufacturers now opt for this process despite the expense.

Going by the definition of a tincture, alcohol is used in the extraction process. This involves dissolving the plant matter in a high-proof alcohol or solvent. Following this, the alcohol can be used as a tincture, or the solution can be heated until the solvent evaporates to leave an isolate. This often depends on the type of solvent used – alcohol is safe for human consumption, while some solvents like butane are not.

Using this method does result in high-quality cannabinoids, but it can be more harmful for human health. Residue from the solvents may find its way into the final product, which is obviously not desirable. Most companies will take care to filter this out, though.


As a result of the different extraction methods used, a tincture may contain alcohol whereas a CBD oil does not. Apart from that, the ingredients are very similar.

Different companies will add different things to their oils – some create flavoured products to make the acquired taste of CBD, whereas others opt for an all-natural approach.

Final Thoughts: CBD Oil vs. CBD Tincture

The terms ‘CBD oil’ and ‘CBD tincture’ are now used interchangeably. Most manufacturers make CBD oils (based on the outlined information above) but may call them a tincture due to the fact that they are administered sublingually, the way in which tinctures have been taken for centuries.

If you are really desperate to know the difference between the two, then the above information serves as a guideline as to whether you’re taking an oil or a tincture. That being said, with most companies pushing for the safest, highest-quality products possible, you might be hard-pressed to find an actual tincture nowadays. Instead, with CO2 extraction being the preferred method for obtaining CBD, oils are much more common.

The name change can be confusing, but all you really need to know is that the two are very similar. Both contain CBD, and both are taken sublingually. As a result, it doesn’t really matter whether you pick up an oil or a tincture to get your CBD.