I just dropped the price of
the permaculture playing cards
for a wee bit.

 

 

uses include:
- infecting brains with permaculture
- convincing folks that you are not crazy
- gift giving obligations
- stocking stuffer
- gambling distraction
- an hour or two of reading
- find the needle
- find the 26 hidden names

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Alcohol for Tincture?  RSS feed

 
Dan Mcpherrow
Posts: 14
Location: Idaho Falls, Idaho
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Should only vodka be used or can other kinds be used such as Rum, Brandy etc as long as it is the proper proof?
 
Steven Feil
Posts: 242
Location: South Central Idaho
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Any alcohol can be used for tinctures. It needs to be at least 25% alcohol to properly preserve it long term though. Some are better suited to particular herbs due to their composition. Some things dissolve better in water, some in alcohol and some in vinegar. Most take a combination of various liquids to do the best job. Most use 80 or 100 proof vodka and take what they get. There are a few though, that really do need specific formulations to get the desired result.

A book that I have and highly recommend is The Herbal Medicine-Maker's Handbook by Green.

One thing I have been investigating is brewing up my own hooch for tinctures.
 
Johnny Niamert
Posts: 268
Location: Colo
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You can use it in a pinch, but it will usually add flavors, sugar, and whatever else is in there.

Use everclear, if you don't live in a zealot state and can legally buy it.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3363
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Vodka is usually cheapest, which is mainly why it is used. But the lack of dissolved oils and flavors means it will take more out of the herbs than something with flavor--that is probably a very minor difference, though.

I have made tinctures using rum when the mix sounded like good rum spices anyway. Didn't make the taste better, though, as the bitter herbs overpowered everything else anyway.
 
Steven Feil
Posts: 242
Location: South Central Idaho
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R Scott wrote:Didn't make the taste better, though, as the bitter herbs overpowered everything else anyway.


Bitters are bitter for a reason. They activate particular responses in the body so the herbal affect will be more pronounced. Gets the juices flowing and ready to work.
 
Adam Klaus
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Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
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+1 for Everclear, unless there is an herb specific reason that you would want some percentage of water or vinegar in the preparation.

also +1 for Green's book, and also Richo Cech's book Making Plant Medicine

unless there is a reason for having water in the menstrum, my experience is that Everclear makes much higher potency and quality tinctures.
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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There actually is often good reason to have water in the menstruum - alcohol and water extract different things from herbs, and with many herbs, you want both the extracts from the water and the alcohol. I use everclear primarily for fresh herb tinctures - the water that is in the herb already will be extracted and bring down the final proof - and for tinctures where the recipe calls for a higher than 50% alcohol menstruum.

The best info that I've found on specific alcohol to water ratios is from Michael Moore - his material medica is available for free here: http://www.swsbm.com/ManualsMM/MatMed5.pdf The rest of the manuals available there are also top-notch - find them here: http://www.swsbm.com/HOMEPAGE/HomePage.html

I tend to use clear alcohols both to avoid weird tastes that might change the effectiveness of things like bitters, and also so that I can see what's been extracted. It's really neat to line up jars of different herbal tinctures and see the different colors you get!
 
Adam Klaus
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Good point Jessica, I wasnt even thinking about tincturing dried herbs, which IMHO is largely a waste of time for most plants. I agree that the fresh plants provide ample water on their own, hence the preference for Everclear.

And another +1, this time for Michael Moore. Best of the botanists!
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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One thing I have been investigating is brewing up my own hooch for tinctures.


Table top still

 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1159
Location: northern northern california
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i have gotten into using a combonation of at least two, though i never thought of it at first but just sort of did it one day and stuck to it.

i have been using a combo of vegetable glycerin and everclear. previously i have used a brandy or liqueur (or any other lower proof alcohol) and everclear....or other combonations. i like to put some glycerin in at the end, for the taste among other reasons.

vegetable glycerin is interesting, you should check it out. though maybe its better for some things than others it makes an alcohol free tincture by itself...
 
Doc Jones
Posts: 33
Location: Buhl, Idaho
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Vodka works fine for most things. Everclear isn't necessary unless chemicals you're trying to extract are particularly hydrophobic...in other words not soluble in water. If getting the resin/sap off your hands with soap and water is a chore after collecting, use Everclear instead of vodka for your menstrum.

Plants that are very resinous or gummy prefer everclear ie...gumweed, juniper, myrrh, boswellia etc...

Using Everclear on everything will actually cheat you out of the more water-soluble constituents in some plants. So, in essence, you're spending more money and getting a worse tincture. Vodka is either 40 0r 50% alcohol (80 or 100 proof). In other words, it's about half alcohol and half water. As a result there is "something for everyone" when it comes to chemical solvencies in the plant.

You can use any other type of liquor you want as well. It needs to be at least 50 proof (25% alcohol) to preserve the tincture. The highest number of chemicals will be extracted at 80-100 proof (with the exception of the the highly oily/resinous plants).

When in doubt, use vodka.

Doc
 
Steven Feil
Posts: 242
Location: South Central Idaho
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Sheesh, doc, I was just going to say something similar!
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 3161
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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I have to agree with Doc, even though I use "Moonshine" I proof it for each specific tincture I am making. Vodka is readily available for most folks, and you don't have to know how to set the proof since the maker has done it for you.
 
Christa Ross
Posts: 3
Location: Northern California
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I love using organic grape alcohol for my tinctures. When you use a higher quality menstruum my teacher always said, "you're starting with a medicine and going up from there". It's expensive but so worth it if you're hoping to make high quality tinctures.
It's usually very high alcohol content (we're talking between 190 - almost 200 proof... ) so you definitely want to mix it with water to reach the optimal solvent level (always mixing the alcohol and water together before pouring over your herbs). I believe that in Michael Moore's online resources there is a long list of herbs and their ideal alcohol:water tincturing rations.
If you're tincturing a plant that contains a lot of alkaloids in it... say something like oregon grape seed for instance... it won't go amiss to add about 10% apple cider vinegar to your menstruum as well to make sure you get all the goodies you're hoping for

That being said... I used generic 80 proof vodka in my tincture making for years and I was never disappointed by my results.

I also think that using a variety of menstruums for tincturing doesn't go amiss in certain situations. For instance, an excellent 'apertif' tincture I love making is artichoke leaf and dandelion leaf in brandy. It's a great bitters to sip on before dinner to get your digestion movin' and the brandy makes it a more enjoyable 'sipper' rather than the 'just get it down' feeling I have with some vodka tinctures.
Apple Cider Vinegar is also a great menstuum to use for herbs you're hoping to ingest regularly as general health and well being tonics. Although you're not extracting as much as you would with an alcohol tincture you're still getting some goodies out of the plants and, again, you're starting with a medicine if it's organic, raw ACV. Can't hurt.
 
Joy Oasis
Posts: 232
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So if I want to tincture something, that has lots of water in itself, like burdock or dandelion root, can I get away with 40 percent vodka, or do I have to get 75 percent everclear (highest allowed for sale in our state) and dilute it to 60 percent as I read on one blog?
 
Liz Hoxie
Posts: 229
Location: Ellisforde, WA
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I'm looking into making my own alcohol for tinctures using organic heirloom corn that I grow here. How do I go about finding out the proof?
 
John Wolfram
Posts: 656
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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trees
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Liz Hoxie wrote:I'm looking into making my own alcohol for tinctures using organic heirloom corn that I grow here. How do I go about finding out the proof?

Alcohol weighs less than water, so you just need to figure how much it weighs. Some people use a hydrometer to figure that out, but I generally preferred a volumetric flask and an accurate scale.
 
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