Glycerin as a Menstruum: Because of the sweet flavor and the fact that it does not contain alcohol, it is useful in making tinctures for children and people averse to drinking alcohol. Though it has good preservative properties and dissolves mucilage material, vitamins and minerals, it does not dissolve the resinous or oily components as well as alcohol. Glycerin needs to be thinned with water 1:1. The rest of the process is the same as the alcohol based tincture. When buying glycerin (available in natural food stores) make certain it is 100% vegetable glycerin which is of much higher quality. Glycerin is effective at extracting tannins from herbs but is a much weaker solvent than alcohol or vinegar.
Using the simple folk method: Fill a glass jar half way with dried herb(s). If you are using fresh herbs fill the jar loosely to the top. Be certain that the jar has a tight fitting lid. Cover the herb completely with your choice of menstruum: alcohol, vinegar or glycerin. Next day top off your jar to be sure the herb is entirely covered after absorbing the liquid. Keep the jar in a cool, dark place and shake the tincture a couple of times a day.
Allow the herb to sit (macerate) in the menstruum for a minimum of 2 weeks. I typically infuse my tinctures for 3 to 4 weeks. After 6 months the menstruum will no longer extract the medicines from the herb. At this point, strain the herbal tincture through several layers of cheese cloth, using a colander and a large bowl to catch the liquid. Using your hands, squeeze the remaining liquid from the tinctured herb through the cheese cloth. I do a second strain through coffee filters via a colander to get the remaining sediment out of the tincture. Pour the liquid in a glass jar, seal with a lid, label and store in a cool, dry, dark place. Tinctures do not require refrigeration. Pour into individual amber or blue dropper bottles, to keep light from entering, and label the tincture. ALWAYS CLEARLY LABEL YOUR HERBAL PREPARATIONS!
(editor's note: this is NOT sufficient to remove alcohol for those with a sensitivity to alcohol.)
The information in this article is intended solely to inform the reader. Please be certain to ‘know your herb’ before consuming it. “Walk Gently on this Earth”.
Mary Hammond – Herbal Practitioner