To a new CBD user or someone who is not too familiar with it, CBD oils and CBD tinctures are virtually the same thing. So the question CBD oil or tincture is new to them.

It is no fault to the consumers as many companies use the terms interchangeably for marketing purposes. This can confuse even CBD researchers like myself. But I sought to shine a little light on the similarities and differences between oils and tinctures, and hold companies to a higher standard for correct labeling.

CBD oils and tinctures both come in amber, green or blue boston round bottles to protect the oil from sunlight and preserve the liquid. Each bottle provides a syringe or dropper attached to the cap for accurate dosage.

But that is about the extent of their similarities.  A CBD oil or tincture can differ vastly from the CBD concentration or ingredients included, down to the extraction process.

So what are the differences between A CBD oil or tincture? Which is best for you and your medical condition?

First, let’s have a quick review on what CBD is.

What Is CBD?

CBD is often referencing the non-intoxicating plant molecule, also know as cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is one of many plant molecules found in cannabis plants that has numerous health benefits to the human body and other mammals.

Since its discovery in the 1980s’, CBD has been bewildering scientists and medical doctors due to its abilities as a multimodal treatment. So far, we can effectively say CBD helps reduce seizures in patients with rare epileptic diseases.

But if you listen to the general public, you will think it helps with everything from pain and sleep to acne and menstrual cramps. And as scientists learn more about CBD, there’s starting to be some truth to what the public is claiming.

It’s no wonder CBD has risen in popularity in the past 4 years and is on an upward trajectory of becoming a multi-billion dollar industry. All starting with CBD oils and tinctures. 

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD oil is cannabidiol that has been extracted from the cannabis plant via a CO2 extraction process. Extraction methods using CO2 has been touted as the best and safest way to separate the CBD from the plant. CO2 is common in the production of food and beverages such as soft drinks.

Pure CBD or CBD isolate is like powder, so it helps to mix it with a carrier oil for consumption. Carrier oils help your body absorb the CBD into the bloodstream.

Carrier oils have fat molecules that are broken down by your body. CBD binds with these fat molecules to be broken down and absorbed into your bloodstream. This is what makes carrier oils the perfect solution to activate CBD in your body.

MCT coconut oil, olive oil, grape seed oil and of course hemp seed oil, are all common carrier oils in popular CBD products. Each of these, and those not listed, all come with their own health benefits. So everything you are putting into your body is natural and beneficial in some way.

CBD oil is most effective when it is digested as it is broken down by the liver and able to circulate into your bloodstream. This is because CBD oil is not water-soluble and can’t pass through cell membranes. Therefore, applying sublingually as you would a tincture, wouldn’t be as effective in the same way.

You can increase the amount of CBD that enters your bloodstream, called bioavailability, by adding the CBD to fatty foods. CBD is oil-based, so if you consume it with fatty foods, it increases the amount of CBD that will enter your bloodstream. So next time, try it with some peanut butter or avocado spread.

There are a few other ways of removing the CBD from the plant and its materials, but that is essentially what defines the differences between oils and tinctures.

What is CBD Tincture?

CBD tincture is cannabidiol that has been extracted from the cannabis plant by mixing it with alcohol.

The definition of tincture describes any medicine dissolved in alcohol to extract the active ingredients.

cbd tincture

Old 1900’s CBD Tinctures

This alcohol-based extraction method has been a very popular method since the early 1900s when cannabis was first being used as medicine in the US.

The alcohol extract allows CBD to mix with anything, making it more accessible than cbd oil itself.

Using the alcohol method, CBD has its fat molecules broken down into smaller ones, which means it will easily absorb into the bloodstream.

Tinctures are more effective when taken sublingually. Just hold the liquid under the tongue for a few minutes and swallow. This allows CBD to absorb into the bloodstream through the saliva glands.

Alcohol may be the most popular liquid for solvent extractions, but many are gaining traction. Ethanol and butane have risen in popularity due to their ease of use. You’ll also find vinegar, coconut oil or vegetable glycerin for alcohol-free solutions.

Most of these other liquids may be easier to use, but often pose a much greater heath risk, mainly due to the ingestion of such chemicals.

What separates a tincture that uses CO2 extractions from an oil is the use as a blended formula, also known as broad spectrum CBD. It is pure CBD isolate mixture with oils, flavors and other ingredients.

What Are The Differences?

cbd oil or tincture

The differences between oils and tinctures are plentiful. Depending on your preferred method of consuming CBD or experience level, one may be more suitable for you over the other.


In comparison to safety risk, CBD oils are safer to make and healthier to consume. Since it is extracted via CO2 and then suspended in a carrier oil, you only need to concern yourself with the type of carrier oil used.

CBD tinctures can pose a higher safety risk when consumed depending on a few factors, mainly due to the extraction process and ingredients used. Tinctures use solvent-based extractions which are not the most safe for consumption. Ethanol, butane, and glycerols come with health risks known to health experts.

Alcohol would be the safest solvent extraction but still produce some health risks that are unseen with a CO2 extraction. Companies will add other ingredients to enhance flavors and bioavailability such as natural or artificial flavors and emulsifiers like polysorbate 80. 

It is important to look at the ingredients of your tincture to assure you are ingesting the safest CBD you can from a solvent extraction.


When comparing the effects of each, tinctures are more favorable with the general public. The solvent extraction is often flavorless. This gives companies the opportunity to add endless flavors that appeals to CBD users.

Tinctures absorb into the bloodstream which provides quicker effects than CBD oils. Some say as quick as 15 minutes before feeling the effects, whereas it takes about 45 minutes for CBD oil.

Tinctures are widely know for their long shelf life. This makes them popular amongst first-time users. They love the convenience, multiple flavors, fast-acting effects and longer shelf life.

CBD oil has its own benefits that makes it very popular once you’ve used CBD for a while.

If you have a serious medical condition, oils are best for you due to their high levels of concentration. The distillation process with solvents will dilute the CBD. This is why oils have a higher bioavailability than tinctures; they hold more CBD than tinctures after the extraction.

Oils are a pure form of CBD because of the CO2 extraction process.

CBD oil has a nutty and earthy taste to it and doesn’t mix well with some foods and drinks.

Oils do enjoy fatty foods like butter as they are fat soluble and alcohol doesn’t mix well with fats.

Tinctures are tasty and not very strong which makes them perfect for beginners and those looking to just stabilize their overall health. Oils are stronger and effective which makes them perfect for those with moderate to severe conditions.

Vape Oil

cbd vape oil

Image by haiberliu @Pixabay

Often comes the question of whether oils and tinctures can be vaped. This is due to their similarity in viscosity and color, especially in comparison to tinctures. But even then, I would have to give a hard no, mainly for safety concerns.

It seems the only difference between CBD eJuice and oils or tinctures, are the addition of specific ingredients such as polysorbate 80, vegetable glycerin (VG) and other glycerols.

I would still suggest checking the bottle to see if it states any vaping claims or contact the company and ask directly.

Popular ecigs like the Juul may have issues with vaping certain oils due to the type of coil used. So it’s better to be safe than sorry. I would think solvent-based oils are off limits due to the alcohol or other combustible chemicals used in the manufacturing.


Other than the bottles they come in, there are few similarities between CBD oil or tincture. They differ mainly due to the solvents used in tinctures. But they also differ in CBD concentrations, ingredients and onset of effects.

If you are new to CBD, try CBD tinctures as they come in a variety of flavors and often has an entry level price. They also are fast-acting and have a long shelf life so you can take CBD as needed without worrying about expiration dates.

Those of you who are familiar with CBD may have gotten used to, and might prefer, the nutty, grassy, earthy taste that is often associated with oils. You may also have a condition that requires higher doses of CBD, which in such case the taste would be irrelevant. Or maybe you like a clean oil with no extra ingredients or chemical contamination.

Either way, it is important to know the difference and how they can effect you. We know CBD works but because it is different on an individual basis, we want to help everyone achieve success activating the effects.

CBD oil or tincture are a great way for non-smokers and elders to get started with CBD. Give CBD a real chance and feel the difference. Take back control of your life.




  • High CBD Concentration
  • Perfect For Severe Conditions
  • More Clean & Natural
  • Great With Fatty Foods

CBD Tincture

  • High Bioavailability (10% More)
  • Multiple Flavors
  • Fast-Acting: 15mins
  • Other Ingredients to enhance flavor & benefits



  • Has Nutty, grassy taste
  • Effects Take Longer
  • More Expensive

CBD Tincture

  • Low CBD Concentration
  • Other Ingredients May Be A Health Risk
  • Extraction Method May Contain Contaminates