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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?
Discussion (31 Comments)
I have made tinctures like this before but I don’t have a crock pot anymore now that I have an Instant Pot. Do you have any suggestions on how to make the tincture in the instant pot?
Katie - Wellness Mama
I’ve haven’t tried that before…
I believe most Instant Pots should have a slow cooker function (in case you’re still wondering)…
I was fascinated when i first found out about tinctures and i tinctured every food and spice in my house! i did clove, cinnamon, lemon peel, lemon balm, onion, cilantro, garlic, ginger, turmeric, butchers broom, white willow, elderberry and the list goes on. over the past 7 years i have found the ginger tincture to be the most often used and the best for nausea and fighting inflammation. the clove and cinnamon have been great for making homemade mouthwashes. the lemon balm has helped by putting it externally on cold sores.
How long do the vegetable glycerin extracts generally last, I assume shorter than alcohol based ones. Also, do they need to be stored a certain way?
I put about a tablespoon of vodka in with the glycerine and herbs to make it last a little longer. I store a little dropper bottle on the counter and the jar of glycerite in the fridge, refilling the dropper bottle as it runs out.
What happens if I leave the dried herbs/glycerin in jar for 6/7 months? Is it still ok to use?
I haven’t opened it since i put all the ingredients in.
Katie - Wellness Mama
It should still be fine. These have a long shelf life.
Aren’t most glycerines made out of soy?
Not all glecerins are made from soy, I’m using one made from pine and coconut
Can I ask for your source on the ratio of Vegetable Glycerin needed for preservation? Reason being I’m creating product and would like solid evidence that my method of preservation is fit for sale. Thanks! great blog you’ve got going.
Katie, doesnt glycerine interfere with tooth remineralization? Are you concerned about that?
It can, and I typically do stick to alcohol tinctures (this is one of the reasons) but when use occasionally, I wouldn’t be concerned about these types of tinctures.
Congratulations with the baby on the way 😀 I have a friend that also got pregnant recently and she is really battling with nausea, would you mind sharing your ginger glycerite recipe to pass on?
Wishing you all the best
Just was reading older post and just discovered you are pregnant CONGRATULATIONS!!! I so glade I that you are open to life!! Lets cut the bulls*[email protected]# this 2 babies one of each the best of both worlds is not cutting it anymore! 50 years ago the house were smaller the families were bigger and EVERYONE was happy and healthy! Now the homes are huge the families are smaller and we are all mad!!…. plus you and your hubby make beautiful babies hope you didn’t lose the blue prints for this one;) haha!! Prayers:)
Hey Katie. Awhile back someone asked you how much you spend on supplements a month and also asked you what you thought were the top 5 supplements you should take. There are so many out there and it can be overwhelming for someone on a budget. I do my best to take what you recommend but you’re always adding more and more and it’s getting to be too much money for me/month. -college student. So I was wondering if you would please post a top 5 that you recommend-I have high regards for your opinion. I know supplements are very individualized for a person’s need, but I’m talking a general list. Oceans alive 2.0, collagen, spirulina, gelatin, cod liver oil, magnesium, etc. Thank you–and congratulations on newest pregnancy:-)
Thanks for reading 🙂 The best answer to that question will actually be from experience as you see what seems to help you personally. The ones that I pack even when traveling are: Seeking Health Prenatal (during pregnancy), Ocean’s Alive, Cod Liver Oil, and Magnesium and those are the ones I would personally prioritize, but as you said, everyone is different 🙂
I have an echinacea, chamomile, childrens composition, and skullcap glycerite but when I was in the beginning of this pregnancy I made a ginger glycerite which has worked out PERFECTLY so whenever I was nauseous I just squirted a dropper full into some water and sipped on it and when my kids have diarrhea or a tummy ache I give them a sippy cup of it and they call it Juice :). Now my daughter who is almost 2 just started getting car sick, so j make sure she always has her “juice” when we leave the house 🙂