Tincture vs. edible: Which is right for you?

We compare hemp tinctures to edibles and pinpoint key differences.
We compare hemp tinctures to edibles and pinpoint key differences.
minute read

Medically Reviewed byDr. Caley Scott, ND

The hemp plant contains hundreds of beneficial compounds, from cannabinoids and terpenes to flavonoids, alkaloids, and more. These natural chemicals are taken from the plant material, put into an easy-to-use product, and you enjoy them in the format of your choice.

But on closer inspection, things can get confusing rather quickly when talking about the specifics of hemp products. Much of this confusion comes when comparing product categories like tinctures and edibles — what do these terms mean, and why do they matter?

As advocates of hemp education for users new and old, we’re here to set the record straight about hemp tinctures and edibles. This article will explain the terms clearly and give you the pros and cons you need to make the right purchase for your desired results. Let’s get started. 

What are hemp tinctures?

Hemp tinctures are liquid oil products containing hemp extract, often diluted with a carrier oil and other active ingredients for added effects or flavors. These tinctures are usually found in small glass bottles with built-in medicine droppers, which allow for precise administration.

Tinctures are often grouped together with CBD oils and other liquid hemp products, but tinctures typically contain more than just cannabinoids. For instance, Sunmed’s Organic Full Spectrum CBD Tincture includes not only organic hemp extract rich in CBD and other cannabinoids, but also essential terpenes from black pepper and juniper berry improving the overall wellness benefits.* 

Meanwhile, products labeled “CBD oil” usually contains only CBD, without the terpenes and valuable minor cannabinoids. And in some cases, “hemp oil” is actually hemp seed oil with no cannabinoids  so it’s always important to read the label or check the product's third-party lab reports.

The takeaway is that hemp tinctures cover a lot of ground in the hemp industry, and every manufacturer takes a unique approach. As always, prioritize quality and transparency, and know exactly what you want from your tinctures before committing to a purchase.

How are hemp tinctures made?

Hemp tinctures begin with extracting the active phytochemicals from the hemp plant itself. These include cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, and more. Whether the hemp is processed with C02, stripped with ethanol and other solvents, or pressed with heat and water, the result is a highly concentrated hemp extract that can be used in a number of different ways.

When producing tinctures, this extract is combined with a carrier oil, used to dilute and support the bioavailability of hemp compounds. MCT oil, derived from coconuts, is a popular form of carrier oil for its natural profile and neutral taste. Alternatively, some brands use olive oil to carry hemp extract, while others may use vegetable glycerin, alcohol-based solutions, or other options.*

Regardless of the extraction method and the carrier oil, the goal of a great hemp tincture is clear: to create an effective, routine hemp product that anyone can use.

How do you use hemp tinctures?

To use hemp tinctures, start with the dropper mechanism that comes equipped with a small bottle or jar. This dropper is usually built into the screw cap for simple access and security. The dropper is also typically marked with volume amounts so that the user can determine how much tincture they want to take.

When administering the tincture, simply drop the desired amount onto the sublingual area of the mouth, directly under the tongue. Allow the liquid to saturate the area for at least one minute, allowing the active ingredients to absorb into the membranes and make their way to the bloodstream. 

This method is not only efficient from a user experience standpoint, but it also ensures a high absorption rate thanks to the bioavailability of the compounds and the target area of administration. 

While the sublingual method is the most effective when using tinctures, these products can also be consumed by standard ingestion. Drop some of your favorite tinctures into a yogurt or cereal bowl with your morning bite, or mix it in your water bottle on the way to the gym. The versatility of tinctures is one of its crowning characteristics, making it a customer-favorite.

What are hemp edibles?

Hemp edibles are any form of edible product containing hemp extract, from gummies and candy bars to baked goods, drinks, and savory snacks. Edibles represent a huge slice of the hemp marketplace because of their accessibility, familiarity, and convenience. 

With hemp edibles, you get the comfort and convenience of snacks and drinks with the added effects of plant-rich hemp extracts. Because hemp edibles represent such a sizable market share, they are often the first of many formats to see new innovations and formulas. 

Additionally, hemp edibles are easy to take on the go and more subtle to use than other methods of delivery, like tinctures, for example. This mix of factors makes edibles a classic category in the world of hemp.

How are hemp edibles made?

Like tinctures, hemp edibles start with a concentrated hemp extract, which can be obtained through several different extraction methods. Once the hemp extract is produced, it can be mixed into any type of edible format you can imagine, using traditional cooking and baking techniques — all while preserving the active ingredients of the hemp.

Because these concentrates are so versatile, they can be seamlessly integrated into brownies, cookies, candies, beverages, and more. These food products are designed to have a reasonable shelf life and be suitable for the human digestive system.

While eating edibles does come with some considerations about sugar content and interaction with the digestive tract, most of today’s products are well-balanced with flavor and palatability. The goal is to make hemp consumption simple and straightforward with edible formats, giving users the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids.* 

How do you use hemp edibles?

Using hemp edibles is as simple as chewing on a gummy or taking a bite out of a baked good. Edibles are designed for easy digestion and get absorbed into the bloodstream after passing through the system for absorption. 

Like all types of hemp, an individual’s edible usage will depend on their preferences and desired outcomes. With such a diverse array of edibles available, these can include general wellness, support for focus, full relaxation, or even better sleep.

Just remember to proceed with caution when eating hemp extract edibles — they’re meant to be used as supplemental products, not as a sugary go-to snack. At Sunmed, our CBD edible gummy products come with child-safe packaging to prevent any unwarranted bites from those in the household.* 

Do hemp tinctures or edibles kick in work faster?

When comparing categories of hemp products, onset time is always a top consideration. This is an important part of choosing your lineup of hemp products, as it will impact your daily schedule and determine how you want to design your lifestyle with hemp extracts.

A faster onset time isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing — it’s all about what you want from your experience.

How fast do tinctures and edibles start working?

Tinctures, when administered sublingually, typically start working in about 30-45 minutes, depending on personal factors. The rapid absorption of active compounds by the membranes of the sublingual glands of the mouth can also provide an immediate terpene boost.* 

Meanwhile, edibles take far longer to kick in, as they need to travel through the digestive tract and absorb through the linings of the intestines. It may take up to an hour or longer before the effects of hemp edibles are felt. 

On the flip side, edibles last longer because of their slower onset. Tinctures, while quick to the punch, may fade off more quickly. 

How do serving sizes compare for tinctures and edibles?

Comparing serving sizes can be deceptive when looking at tinctures and edibles because the formats are fundamentally different. While some products are highly concentrated, others contain less cannabinoid content and require more volume to get the same serving size.

Instead of comparing serving sizes side by side, focus on the milligram amount of cannabinoids you’re getting with each product and what’s required to keep these servings consistent. This may require some quick calculations, but that effort will pay off when you can accurately track your serving sizes and get a clear picture of your tolerance and efficacy levels.

When should you use hemp tinctures vs. edibles?

The tincture vs. edible debate often comes down to personal preferences, but there are some notable use cases for each product format. We encourage everyone to experiment with both types of products and see for themselves how both tinctures and edibles work for you. Meanwhile, here are some thoughts to keep in mind when looking at the benefits of tinctures and edibles.

Edibles for slow-acting, general support

Hemp edibles are great for times when you need slow-acting and long-lasting support for general wellness. This is the idea behind our Full Spectrum Anytime CBD Gummies, which include hemp extract and live resin. The effects of hemp edibles take longer to kick in, and the onset is more gentle and gradual. These effects may also decline more gradually, allowing you to space hemp servings further apart in your day. 

We compare hemp tinctures to edibles and pinpoint key differences.

Tinctures for faster onset

For a quick and effective serving of cannabinoids, tinctures offer quick sublingual benefits. This can be useful if you’re feeling acute discomfort or tension and want to get the effects of these compounds in a shorter time frame.

Users often report that the effects of tinctures are more noticeable within the first couple of hours but then fade more quickly compared to the sustained effects of edibles. Opting for tinctures might necessitate more frequent servings, which is another aspect to factor into your decision process.

The bottom line 

With tinctures and edibles comprising much of the hemp space, there is so much to discover and learn about these categories on their own. The sheer variety of tinctures and edibles can be overwhelming, which is why Sunmed works to make it simple and straightforward. 

Our store features everything from full spectrum and broad spectrum tinctures and edibles to products with CBG, CBN, and other cannabinoids for specific uses. We make sure to cover all these categories so that shoppers are empowered with choice at every stage of the process. Remember to start slow, explore your options, and remember to put self-care above all else.


What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD | FDA

Chemistry, Metabolism, and Toxicology of Cannabis: Clinical Implications | NIH

Mechanisms of Action and Pharmacokinetics of Cannabis | The Permanente Journal

Sublingual drug delivery | NIH

New take on runner’s high: Study explores how marijuana affects workouts