Making Herbal Medicine – Tinctures, Glycerites, and Vinegars

System Posts: 121 admin
edited October 2020 in Making Herbal Medicine

imageMaking Herbal Medicine – Tinctures, Glycerites, and Vinegars

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  • doloresosullivan.1
    doloresosullivan.1 Posts: 7 ✭✭✭

    This was great i really enjoyed it but can you please tell me what exactly Everclear is as we dont seem to have it here in Ireland

  • gardneto76
    gardneto76 Posts: 528 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 2020

    @doloresosullivan.1 it is A brand of vodka. Here we can buy it at 151 or 190 proof. I believe it is one of the highest percentages you can get. You can use any high proof vodka to get the same results, I try to use 90 proof but have used 70 I. The past and just let it set longer.

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,820 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @doloresosullivan.1 l looked it up so I didn't give you incorrect information.

    Everclear is a brand name of rectified spirit produced by the American company Luxco. It is made from grain and is bottled at 120, 151, 189, and 190 U.S. proof. Due to its market prevalence and high alcohol content, the product has become iconic, with a "notorious reputation" in popular culture. Wikipedia

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin


    The US labels their alcohol content as proof while in Canada it is labelled by volume. Proof is half of what the alcohol content is by volume. So if you are buying alcohol that is 190 proof it is the same as 95% alcohol by volume. I believe that Ireland uses the alcohol by volume method of labelling so you would be looking for 95% alcohol if the recipe is calling for Everclear. There is also a product called "Spirytus Rektyfikowany" Rectified Spirit from Poland which is 96% alcohol by volume or 192 proof. From what I understand, that high of a percentage alcohol is not sold in Ireland. But maybe you know someone who travels a lot and goes through Duty Free stores where both products should be available. For now you will just have to use the strongest alcohol you can find.

  • Melinda
    Melinda Posts: 123 ✭✭✭

    Is it ok to use rum? I think the answer will be yes, but I want to make sure.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    @Melinda Vodka (or Everclear) is usually used because of its lack other ingredients or lack of taste (some vodka enthusiasts are going to disagree, lol) or lack of tannins (from ageing in wooden casks). However, in a pinch you can use any alcohol. I like using brandy for making bitters cause it seems to improve the taste and I like the tannins added to the bitters. Rum might improve the flavour of some syrups. Then you have the option of white or dark rum. I would think that white rum would be better so you can see the colour of your tincture.

  • csinclair461
    csinclair461 Posts: 159 ✭✭✭

    i have a calendula tincture, made yesterday with my study buddy, and we tried to use a 1:4 ratio, but the herb soaked up all the alcohol. So we added more, to make it a 1:5 ratio. It still doesn’t seem to be enough. I can press the herb down so it submerges again, but it doesnt stay submerged. Is it better to powder the herb? Is it better to keep adding more alcohol even if it makes the ratio more like 1:6 or 1:7? We used a digital kitchen scale to measure. Thanks!

  • seeker.nancy - Central Texas
    seeker.nancy - Central Texas Posts: 795 ✭✭✭✭

    @csinclair461 I have found that the plant material used can widely alter the amount of alcohol needed to keep it covered. I use mostly dried herbs because the fresh take so much alcohol lol. I am doing some fresh tinctures this year with herbs I'm now growing. You could also do it and make it twice or three times with the same alcohol for a much stronger tincture. I'm doing that with the wild lettuce and with dandelion greens. I will just need to mark my bottles as such to adjust dosages!

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    @csinclair461 Some of the bulkier herbs simply can't be done in a standard formula. "Simples" are tinctures that are made just by covering the plant material with enough alcohol to cover the material and not by a ratio. Susun Weed does a lot of simples. Mother Earth News recommends powdering dried calendula flowers before tincturing to be able to get a correct ratio. Rosalee de la Foret suggests wilting fresh calendula flowers overnight before tincturing. Other herbalist suggest that using fresh calendula flowers is preferable because you want to get that fresh sticky resin included in your tincture. But we use what we have. I know other herbalist who use nothing but dried plant materials for all their tinctures.

    If you give it a couple of days in the alcohol, it should eventually stay submerged as the alcohol draws components from the plant material. You could tightly seal the jar and just keep inverting it every few hours.

    If you are still concerned that your tincture is not strong enough because you used more alcohol than for a standard ratio, you can do a double or triple tincture by infusing a second (or third) batch of flowers into the same alcohol as used for the first tincturing. This is a common practice.

    Calendula should be done in a fairly high a proof alcohol. At least 60% - 80% alcohol by volume.

  • Acequiamadre
    Acequiamadre Posts: 269 ✭✭✭

    I am learning so much. My daughter and I are beginning our herbal journey. She just made a cut and scrapes salve. Thank you for sharing your depth of knowledge.

  • KimWilson
    KimWilson Posts: 197 ✭✭✭

    I have found that it simplifies tincture usage if you try to keep the ratio consistent tincture to tincture. 1:5 is my favorite ratio. Question for @csinclair461 -- if you use the same alcohol to strengthen the tincture, how do you know what the ratio turns out to be?

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    @KimWilson Welcome to TGN's forum! I think the question you have, should be directed to me instead of @csinclair461.

    It is always best if you can use a standard tincture formula. But for some herbs it just doesn't work out that way. If you are doing a second or third tincturing of material in the same alcohol, just keep track of the proportions and do the math. If you need twice the amount of alcohol just to cover the material (so now you have a .5:5 or 1:10 ratio), then do the same amount of material in the next tincturing in the same alcohol and that should give you a 1:5 ratio. You can do this to get a double strength tincture as well as @seeker.nancy has suggested.

    You should start your own pharmacopeia. There are some plant materials that do better in a ratio other than 1:5. Some teachers recommend different ratios so I keep track of all possibilities from different sources and then choose the one that I think is best for my purpose. For example, 7Song recommends a ratio of 1:8 in 50% alcohol by volume while the Herbarium recommends a 1:4 ratio in 60% alcohol by volume. As you can see, there are different strength alcohols used as well. Some materials such as resinous plants (or actual resins like myrrh) or hard roots, need a very high alcohol percentage so many herbalists will use Everclear (95% ABV) or the highest alcohol available. But we use what we have. In some states and provinces as well as other countries the highest alcohol available might only be 40% ABV (80 proof).

    The ratio for fresh material is usually 1:2 but again that can sometimes be difficult to accomplish. And some plants are better done in a different ratio. For example the Herbarium recommends fresh Calendula to be done at a 1:3 ratio in 90% ABV.

    Hope that answers your question.

  • csinclair461
    csinclair461 Posts: 159 ✭✭✭

    thank you for the wonderful answers! I did use 80 proof (40%) rum (before asking). I have 100 proof vodka, but wanted to try out the rum. I didn't see a stronger rum at the liquor store. I may have to start shopping online. or ask at the counter. I like the idea of reusing the alcohol with new plant material for a stronger tincture. I appreciate the input.

  • John
    John Posts: 163 ✭✭✭

    Love all the things you can learn and do with herbal medicine-got to move forward on these. Thank you all.