The difference between CBD tincture and CBD oil

by Laura Howarth December 03, 2022

The difference between CBD tincture and CBD oil

The CBD industry is still very young, which means companies can still get away with a lot in their marketing speak. Unfortunately, this means that it’s very easy to mislabel products and get away with it. One of the most misused terms in the CBD dictionary is “tincture”. 

Once you start looking for this term, you’ll find a lot of companies use the terms CBD tincture and CBD oil interchangeably. But these terms are not equivalents, and it’s important to understand the difference between the two products.

Many do this to set their products apart from the competition. And many will also publish incorrect articles that back up their false claims. While there might be strict rules about how CBD companies make medical claims about their products, there are no rules yet about ensuring that products are given the correct name.

You might be wondering, why exactly does this matter? We believe that customers should have all the information available when choosing their CBD products. CBD oil and CBD tinctures are two different products, each with its merits. For customers to be able to make an informed choice about what they are purchasing, companies need to use these terms correctly.

Oils vs tinctures - Fast facts

  • CBD products can be mislabelled as tinctures rather than oils and viceversa.
  • A tincture is a very specific product and few CBD products marked as tinctures meet the requirements. To be a tincture, alcohol must be used as a carrier and it may also contain artificial additives.
  • Taking a CBD tincture can cause an unpleasant burning sensation due to its alcohol content.
  • Since tinctures contain alcohol, this means they are not be suitable for everyone.
  • A CBD oil is a cannabinoid extract with a carrier oil, usually hemp oil or MCT oil from coconuts. They're usually 100% natural.

What is a CBD tincture?

CO2 extraction machine

CBD tincture is not just another word for CBD oil. It’s a specific category of CBD product with a very different manufacturing process. Tinctures are made by using alcohol as a solvent and then as a carrier liquid. They are typically highly concentrated and might contain a wide range of cannabinoids and other beneficial plant compounds.

Solvent extraction is an alternative to supercritical CO2 extraction. The plant matter is soaked in alcohol to extract the beneficial compounds. This process requires more filtration of the finished product, but it also protects the cannabinoids from oxidation, which can increase the potency.

Not only is CBD tincture extracted in alcohol, but it is also delivered in alcohol. High-proof alcohol is used, often mixed with sweeteners, flavourings, and vegetable glycerine to mask the bitter taste. It might also contain additional herbal extracts or health supplements.

How is a tincture different from an oil?

From hemp to CBD tincture

The biggest difference between a tincture and an oil is the method of delivery. With CBD oil, the cannabinoids are mixed with a carrier oil, usually hemp seed oil or MCT oil from coconuts. With a tincture, the cannabinoids are mixed with high-proof alcohol.

Both CBD oil and tincture are typically taken sublingually. With CBD oil, the excess oil is swallowed. With a CBD tincture, the alcohol will evaporate, leaving just the cannabinoids and additives. CBD tincture can lead to a burning sensation in the mouth, so individuals may choose to add it to their favourite food or drinks instead.

Pros of CBD oils

  • Easy to choose your serving size
  • May be applied topically
  • Can be added to your favourite food and drink
  • Choose your strength and flavour
  • Most contain no additives
  • Contains a wide range of cannabinoids and beneficial plant compounds

Cons of CBD oils

  • May cost more than other forms of CBD
  • Unflavoured CBD can sometimes have an unpleasant, earthy taste

Pros of CBD tincture

Cons of CBD tincture

  • Not suitable for topical use
  • Not a halal product
  • A bitter flavour that some can find unpleasant
  • Alcohol can give a burning sensation when taken sublingually
  • May contain artificial additives
  • Not widely available
  • The term is commonly misused

Which is stronger, CBD oil or tincture?

50% strong CBD oil - Signature Collection

This all depends on the CBD content of an individual product. There isn’t a simple answer to this question because both products have the potential to be very strong. The strength of a CBD product is determined by the cannabinoid concentration and is often represented as a percentage of the whole product, or as mg. CBD oils are available in strengths of up to 50% (5000mg in 10ml), with tinctures, we are yet to find one above 10% (1000mg in 10ml).

Bioavailability is a different matter altogether. This refers to how much of the product gets used by the body and how much is wasted in metabolic processes. Since CBD oil and tincture are taken the same way (under the tongue), the bioavailability will be about the same. According to one study, this can be up to 35%.


We only stock CBD oils in our collection for a reason. We believe they offer a superior and more accessible way to enjoy CBD. We are also cautious about stocking products that are incorrectly labelled as CBD tinctures.

Education is key when it comes to introducing new products. Many companies are labelling their CBD as tinctures simply because they don’t know any better. However, some are knowingly cashing in on the growing interest and the enticing nature of more exotic-sounding products, like CBD tincture.

One simple way to identify if you are really buying a tincture or if you are buying an incorrectly labelled CBD oil is to look at the ingredients. If the product contains oil instead of alcohol, you know it’s a CBD oil, not a tincture. A tincture should also contain an alcohol warning and will only be available to those over the age of 18.

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Laura Howarth
Laura Howarth


Laura Howarth is a specialist CBD author based in Manchester, UK. She is passionate about sharing her love for CBD through educational articles and in-depth guides.

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