This is the time of year when I make a variety of different tinctures to preserve herbs for long-term use. I typically make traditional alcohol based tinctures, because they concentrate and preserve the herbs for years, but glycerin tincture are an alcohol-free option for children or those who can’t tolerate alcohol.
What is a Glycerite?
In general, a tincture is a concentrated liquid preservation of an herb or medicinal substance that preserves the herb for a long period of time and makes it easier to consume. Tinctures are one of the simplest natural remedies to make and are an in-expensive way to preserve herbs.
A glycerite or glycerin based tincture is a liquid herbal preparation that uses vegetable glycerin as the main method of extraction. Whereas traditional tinctures use alcohol as the solvent, glycerites rely on glycerin as the main (or only solvent).
Glycerin is considered a weaker solvent than alcohol, or even water, so these are not the most potent tinctures available, but they do provide an alcohol-free alternative and may be more suitable for children.
It is important to note that glycerin tinctures are absorbed more slowly that alcohol based tinctures because alcohol has quick access to the liver and the properties of these tinctures are more rapidly absorbed. Glycerin tinctures are absorbed by the gluconogenic pathway in the liver, which is about 30% slower, but which does not affect blood sugar as much.
How to Make a Glycerite
- A pint size or larger glass jar
- Boiling water
- Food Grade Vegetable Glycerine
- Dried Herbs of Choice
What to do:
Fill the jar 1/3 to 1/2 full with dried herbs. Filling half full will make a stronger tincture. Do not pack down.
Pour boiling water to just dampen all of the herbs. (This step is optional but helps to draw out the beneficial properties of the herbs)
Fill the rest of the jar (or the entire jar if not using hot water too) with glycerine and stir with a clean spoon. NOTE: Glycerine should make up more than half of the mixture to adequately preserve the tincture.
Put the lid on the jar. Leave 6-8 weeks in the jar, shaking occasionally. Strain herbs out of tincture and store in a cool, dry, place.
Optional Heat Step:
Place a wash cloth or silicon baking mat (to keep jar from breaking) in the bottom of a crock pot with a “keep warm” or very low setting. Fill the crock pot up with water to cover 3/4 of the jar (don’t cover the lid!) and turn on the lowest setting.
Keep in slow-cooker/crock pot for at least 1 day on this setting, adding water as needed (I’ve done up to two days).
Let cool, strain and use as a regular tincture.
Note: Glycerine tinctures are sweeter than others.
Types of Glycerine Tinctures
Any type of tincture can be made as a Glycerite, though some work better than others. Since Glycerin is not as strong of an extraction method, it is not recommended for bark, roots and other hard parts of a plant and are more beneficial for flowers and leaves. These basic tinctures can be adapted to be glycerin tinctures:
Ever made a tincture? What kind did you make?