What you need to know about tinctures, frequently asked question

I’ve been making tinctures since 2001 and I have bought and read dozens of books about them. When I’m meeting with people and we talk about my hobby mostly the same questions are being asked. I will try to answer them here. 

Why does tincture burn? Is tincture supposed to burn?

Because a high proof of alcohol is used to produce tincture it will burn like a shot of straight spirit when you will drink it. Most tinctures are made with vodka or Everclear, which 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. 

What are the effects of tincture?

Tincture effects depend on the herb or fruit that you will use, alcohol is great to extract beneficial properties of herbs into tinctures. 

For example effects of elderberry flowers tincture include: 

  • antivirus activity, 
  • protect and strengthen the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, 
  • strengthen immunity, 
  • strengthen capillaries.

Another example can be bird cherry that:

  • has antiseptic and diuretic, as well as anti-rheumatic effects,
  • contribute to inhibiting the growth of such microorganisms in the body as protozoa and bacteria,
  • has anti-inflammatory properties, 
  • help reduce blood pressure, 
  • support metabolism and regulate the nervous system.

Such a list can go on and on, as almost each herb or fruit has something valuable that can be used for our health and can be extracted into a tincture. 

How do you reduce alcohol tincture?

If you need to reduce alcohol level in a tincture before taking it you can accomplish this by leaving the jar with tincture in a hot water (but do not boil it after placing tincture), leave it for a few hours, you can change water for hot when it cools down. This way you will evaporate part of ethanol from tincture. 

How do you determine the strength of a tincture?

Easiest way to determine strength of alcoholic tincture would be to use an alcohol meter such as this hydrometer from Amazon – Alcohol Hydrometer Tester 0-200 Alcoholmeter on Amazon.

It will not be 100% precise as it works the best with clear vodka or spirit, but it will give you estimated level for sure. 

How do you use alcohol tincture?

Usually the best method of dosing and using your tincture can be found in the recipe, traditionally most fruit based tinctures can be drinked like regular liquors, but some strong, herbal tinctures will be dosed in drops, not shots. 

For example thyme tincture should be used three times a day in case of colds, coughs, sore throats, 1 teaspoon at a time. 

You can also mix tincture with water or your favorite beverage. 

What alcohol is used for tinctures?

Tincture is made with ethanol (ethyl alcohol), in case of most recipes they will be made with vodka or Everclear, which is a grain-distilled spirit. 

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!

If you are looking also for other recipes, check out my blog – I have written about almost 100 other tinctures, use the search option below and you might find what you are looking for:

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