Friday, December 26, 2008

Making Non-Alcoholic Herbal Tinctures

If you would prefer to make a non-alcoholic herbal tincture, you can substitute distilled water, vegetable glycerin, apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar. You will also need to make sure that you use 100% vegetable glycerin or food grade distilled white vinegar when making a non-alcoholic herbal tincture. Never use rubbing alcohol or wood alcohol, as this would create a very poisonous substance.

What is a tincture?

A herbal tincture is an herbal preparation that is usually made with alcohol and dried or fresh herbs. A common proportion that is widely used is one ounce of fresh herb to one pint of liquid. It is customarily taken by mixing with tea, water or juice. One teaspoon of herbal tincture taken up to three time’s daily is the usually recommended dosage for most herbal tinctures. A tincture is one of the most effective methods of using herbal medicines.

What can I use to make a tincture?

Many herbs contain ingredients which can’t be easily extracted by water or are destroyed by heat. Making herbal tinctures can solve many of these problems. A herbal tincture can be made with several different types of liquids.

1.) Vodka and Rum are the two main types of alcohol that are most commonly used to make herbal tinctures at home. Rum when used to make herbal tinctures also helps to mask the bitter taste of some herbs. When stored in a cool, dark environment your tincture should last for approximately two years without refrigeration.

2.) Distilled water can also be used to make herbal tinctures. Do not use tap water. This can be a good alternative for those who have a low tolerance for alcohol or a preference for a non-alcoholic herbal tincture. The process is quite similar to the one using alcohol. Distilled water is merely substituted for the alcohol. You will need to let the mixture stand for a longer time period than alcohol-based tinctures. This is generally about twice as long as the time required for an alcohol-based tincture. You will need to refrigerate herbal tinctures made with distilled water. This is similar to making an infusion (or tea). The main difference is that no heat is used which may cause the loss of some nutrients from your herbs. Herbal tinctures with distilled water should be refrigerated and will have a shelf life of approximately 6 months.

3.)NOW Foods Glycerine Vegetable, 16-Fluid Ounces can also be used as to make herbal tinctures. Vegetable glycerin is normally diluted in a ratio of one part vegetable glycerin to four parts distilled water when making herbal tinctures. Vegetable glycerin is also sweet. This makes it a good choice when making herbal tinctures for use by children. Kids always prefer a sweet taste over bitter. You will need to make sure that you use only 100% vegetable glycerin for making your herbal tinctures. The shelf life of herbal tinctures made with vegetable glycerin can be as long as two years when stored in a cool, dark environment.

4.) Apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar can also be used to make herbal tinctures. Vinegar will not dissolve your herbs constituents as well as alcohol. Vinegar is well tolerated by most people and helps to regulate the natural Ph balance in our bodies. For the best results when using vinegar to make a herbal tincture, you will need to warm (do not heat or boil) the vinegar slightly before using to help maximize the release of nutrients from your herbs. You can use vinegar without warming if you so desire, but you will not be getting the most benefit from your tincture. Herbal tinctures made with apple cider vinegar, this is also a good choice for herbs with a bitter flavor, or distilled white vinegar will have a varying shelf life. Tinctures made using a warm vinegar solution will need to be refrigerated afterwards to obtain the maximum shelf life of approximately 6 months.

There is also an additional way to avoid the alcohol in herbal tinctures. If you do not have a non-alcohol based herbal tincture available, you can place your normal dosage of alcohol-based herbal tincture into a pot of boiling water or tea. Simply remove the water or tea from the heat after adding your tincture and allow it to set for several minutes. This will allow the alcohol to evaporate and leave you with the full benefits of your herbal tincture.

For additional information on herbs and plants, visit the Handmaiden's Kitchen.

Check out Survivalist News for more great information.

Staying above the water line!



Patricia said...

Thank you for the link, RW. Good post!

riverwalker said...


You're welcome.


Mayberry said...

Good stuff RW. Fortunatley for me, I don't get sick very much (knock on wood), but it's good to know for the family....

riverwalker said...

To: Mayberry

There may come a time when we'll wish we knew even more about some of the old fashioned remedies.


em said...

I realize alcohol is the most effective way to make a tincture, but what is the second best? Water? Glycerine? Vinegar?

riverwalker said...


Personally, I would go with distilled water as a second choice.


Anonymous said...

Very knowledgeable post, thanks for your help explaining how to make a tincture without using alcohol.
I made it once with glycerin, and it was as good as the alcohol one. the only difference is that it doesn't have as long a shelf life, but I think you said about 2 years if kept refrigerated.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating, thanks you for the info. I am studing homeopathy and think that I will be preparing my tictures with alcohol and allowing it to evaporate :-)

dmarie said...

Thanks for the tips! I'd like to try with distilled water or apple cider vinegar. I gather I should be refrigerating it after, but while it's "standing" should it be left out in warmer temps or also refrigerated?

Tammymarykay1 said...

Great article, just what I was looking for. I was looking for a tincture recipe without the use of alcohol. Very well written a great resource. I will refer to this again.

Tammymarykay1 said...

Great article, just what I was looking for. I was looking for a tincture recipe without the use of alcohol. Very well written a great resource. I will refer to this again.

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