Does tincture expire? What’s the shelf life of tincture?


Traditional tincture is alcoholic extracts of fruits, roots, flowers or herbs (or mixtures of ingredients), usually with 40-45 percent alcohol by volume content, so they are quite long lasting. 

That does not mean that they can last forever, tinctures expire and it is important to know how old tincture is to be sure that it will not only taste good but also keep its beneficial effects. Homemade tinctures, if stored in a dark, cool place can last for 3 years for sure. 

How long tinctures can last

When you are buying tincture, not making it by yourself it should have an expiration date, the industry standard for an alcohol tincture is five years. 

Tinctures made with strong spirits, like 190 proof, will last longer than those made with vodka and with addition of fruit juice for example, which will make vodka diluted. 

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What alcohol should be used for tincture to make it last longer?

You should stick to the recipe, but if you have the option use a strong distilled spirit like Everclear. It is a grain-distilled spirit, at 151 and 190 proof, 75.5 percent and 95 percent, respectively, Everclear is the most potent liquor on the market. In other locations it can be sold under different names, like spirytus rektyfikowany in Poland for example. 

Do tinctures need to be refrigerated?

Alcohol-based tinctures have a limited shelf life but they do not require refrigeration if stored in a cool, dark place. Tinctures that are glycerine-based do not need to be refrigerated and can last from 3-5 years. Vinegar-based tinctures are recommended to be refrigerated, and can last up to 1 year.

Tincture from fruits in a jar

Can alcohol tinctures mold?

If you follow the recipe your tincture should last for years and will not mold. This can happen only if it was made with molded fruits, flowers or herbs and was not strong enough. 

The most important thing in terms of safety is to prevent fermentation, mold or harmful bacteria growth by using a high enough alcohol percent. To be safe, the final alcohol by volume percent should be above 30%.

Do tinctures lose potency over time?

A lot depends on how you will store your tincture, in case for example of fruit tincture over time fruit aromas will oxidize, so it tastes best up to 3-4 years from production date. If properly stored in a dark, cool place you can be sure that your tincture will last that long. 

As you can see there are some general guidelines that will allow your tinctures to last for longer, like proper alcohol or using best quality ingredients, not spoiled or molded. Be sure to follow the recipe and store tincture in a dark, cool place and it will last for years 🙂

Recommened edequipment – what you may need to have to make such tincture at home

I hope that you have found my article useful. Below I’ve gathered all items that I am using when making my tinctures, some of them, like airtight jars, are necessary, some are just handy, you do not need to have them all to be able to make a good tincture.  

recommended tincture equipment
Tincture equipment examples
  1. Airtight jars.
  2. Mortar for herbs – granite.
  3. Mortar for herbs – stainless steel.
  4. Funnels for filling bottles.
  5. Large bottles, dark glass.
  6. Medium bottles, dark glass.
  7. Small bottles with dropper, dark glass.
  8. Cloth for tincture filtering.
  9. Coffee filters for tincture filtering.
  10. Alcohol meter to check how strong is your vodka/spirit.
  11. Tincture press for better extraction.

    Here you can also find a more detailed post with list of equipment that might be useful.

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Damian from PolishTinctures
Best regards from Kraków!

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