How to make tinctures without alcohol, with glycerin or vinegar

Alcohol tinctures are most commonly made because alcohol is a great extractor and tinctures based on vodka or spirit last longer. 

Can tinctures be made without alcohol? Yes! If you cannot or do now want to consume alcohol you can make alcohol free tincture. You can choose between glycerin and vinegar, both are effective and alcohol-free alternatives. 

How do you make herbal extract (tincture) without alcohol?

As mentioned glycerin and vinegar are both effective and alcohol-free alternatives to make herbal extracts, called also tinctures. The only problem with extracts obtained with use of glycerin and vinegar is that they are not as long lasting as alcohol tinctures, which usually means that they will last 1-2 years, while alcohol tinctures have a shelf life of 3-5 years sometimes. 

Let’s see how to prepare such alternative, alcohol free tinctures.  

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Using glycerin to make tinctures without alcohol

Glycerin that you can buy online is in some sources also called glycerol. It is clear, colorless, and odorless liquid, its consistency reminds of a thick syrup. If you will use it as an alternative extract to ethanol alcohol, the extracts are called glycerites.

As mentioned, shelf life of such tinctures made with glycerin is relatively shorter – it is only about 12-24 months. 

Many people will decide to make glycerites instead alcohol based tinctures because they have a very pleasant taste and provide the best alternative for children.

Recipe how to make glycerin tinctures


  • airtight jar,
  • vegetable glycerin,
  • dried herb,
  • filter paper or cheesecloth,
  • dark glass bottle. 

Preparation instructions:

  • slice the dry herbs well into smaller pieces, you can use knife or mortar, depending what sort of herb you are using, 
  • put herbs into an airtight jar until 1/3 full, 
  • mix 1 part of water (preferably distilled) with 3 parts of vegetable glycerin and shake well, 
  • pour the mixture of water and glycerin over the herb in the jar until full. Make sure that all the herbs are fully covered by the liquid, 
  • leave the jar for about 4-5 weeks, shaking it daily, 
  • after that time strain the mixture using filter or cheesecloth and pour into dark glass bottles, 
  • as for labels it would be good to include information about what herb you have used, when it was made and what is estimated expiration date. 

Using vinegar to make tinctures without alcohol

Vinegar that you can buy online on Amazon, when used properly can have almost the health benefits compared to alcohol-based tinctures.

In most cases, vinegar tinctures are appropriate for children. Of course a lot depends on the herb that you are using, some should not be given to children. It’s better to consult a specialist before giving such tinctures to your children or taking them by yourself. 

Vinegar-based herbal tinctures can be used in a few ways, it is common that some people like to use their vinegar tinctures as salad dressings. You can also use them as a base for hot beverages, especially when you are fighting colds. 

They have unfortunately shorter use date than alcohol based tinctures or even those with glycerin, as vinegar-based herbal tinctures can last up to 12 months, and should be stored in a refrigerator. 

Recipe to make vinegar-based tinctures


  • dried herbs,
  • apple cider vinegar,
  • airtight jar,
  • filter paper or cheesecloth,
  • funnel.

Preparation instructions:

  • cut herbs into smaller pieces, you can also use mortar depending on what herbs you are using, 
  • put the herbs into an airtight glass jar and fill 2/3 full,
  • pour apple cider vinegar into the glass jar until the herbs are completely covered,
  • keep for about 2 weeks in a cool, dark place, remember to shake daily to mix ingredients properly, 
  • after that time strain vinegar tincture with filter paper or a cheesecloth, pour to a dark glass bottle and preferably store in a dark and cool place, it can also be in a refrigerator. 

Other instructions to remember when making tinctures without alcohol

Here are some things to be keep in mind for better effect: 

  • when filling airtight jars, pour the fluid to the brim, we do not want to leave to much space for air when you close the lid, 
  • tinctures should be stored in a dark, cool place, you should avoid exposing it to a sunlight, 
  • it is good to make labels with not only date when tincture was made, but also estimated expiration date, this will allow you to use them and be safe, 
  • for alcohol free, glycerin and vinegar tinctures always use dried herbs, we do not want to have excessive water in the tincture. 

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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