Make a Glycerite Tincture

What is a glycerite tincture?

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.

What is vegetable glycerine?

Vegetable glycerin is a clear, odorless liquid produced from vegetable oils such as palm, soy, or coconut oil using high temperature and pressure to split the glycerin molecule from the fatty acids. While sweet, it is not metabolized by the body like sugar. For the highest quality glycerite, look for an organic, non-GMO glycerin.

Choosing your herb

Consider the actions or energetics of the herb that you want to use, in addition to any precautions or contraindications. If you have a medical condition, are taking pharmaceutical drugs, or are pregnant, please consult your healthcare provider prior to taking herbs.

Some questions to ask before choosing herbs are:

  • Do you want something that will be calming?
  • Something to soothe or prevent illness?
  • Do you have a medical condition or are you taking any pharmaceutical drugs?
  • Do you have allergies to certain plants or plant families?

Glycerites can be made using fresh or dried plant material. 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.

How to Make a Glycerite

Step 1
Fill a clean pint jar, or size of your choice, 1/3 to 1/2 full with dried herbs. Filling half full will make a stronger tincture. Do not pack the herbs down.

Step 2
For successful preservation, a glycerine tincture should contain at least 55% glycerin. For fresh plants, add enough glycerin to fully cover the plant material and fill jar to within one inch of the top. For dried plants, dilute glycerin with distilled water in a 3:1 ratio (3 parts glycerin to one part water) and fill jar with mixture to within one inch of the top.

Step 3
Use a knife or chopstick to poke and stir the plant material to release the air bubbles while adding glycerin or glycerin/water mixture.

Step 4
Cap and label the jar. Set the jar in a dark location at room temperature. Let macerate for 4-6 weeks, shaking the bottle every day or two to mix. Top off with glycerin as necessary if plant material pokes above the top of the liquid.

Step 5
After 4-6 weeks, strain the glycerite into a jar or bowl by pouring the mixture through a strainer lined with a few layers of cheesecloth. With clean hands, gather corners of cheesecloth together, twist the cloth to squeeze the herb material to express every last drop of glycerite.

Step 6
Bottle and label glycerite.  Be sure to include on your label the name of the herb used and the date strained.

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.

If you need more information, talk to a qualified herbalist. Depending on the properties of certain herbs, some treatments can be dangerous. Make sure that you follow the instructions in your tincture recipes and ensure proper handling during the preparation, steeping and storing of your tincture.