Tincture Handbook: Part 4 - Hydroalcohol Liquid Extracts for Tinctures

by Jason J. Duke - Owner/Artisan

Fresh Content: September 8, 2022 23:51

Adding Herbs to Hydroalcohol Menstruum 

Hydroalcohol liquid extracts are made by using a menstruum of edible alcohol (ethanol) and distilled water in the maceration and extraction of herbs.

Hydroalcohol tinctures are superior for extraction methods, since they easily extract nearly all of the constituents, especially the volatile constituents, while also becoming a carrier of the constituents for quick and complete absorption.

Understanding Alcohol and Water Usage in Tinctures

Alcohol preserves and easily extracts the volatile constituents from the macerated herbs without being oxidized, Highest potency hydroalcohol tinctures use whole, cut-and-sifted, and sliced quality herbs in the making of hydroalcohol tinctures.

Common types of alcohol used in tinctures:

  • Cane 
  • Corn
  • Grape
  • Wheat

Cane alcohol purchased from a specialty distiller is the best for making tinctures with a sweet taste that has less bite than store-bought vodka.

Purified USPUSP is the abbreviation
of "United States Pharmacopeia"
that is the highest-quality alcohol, for both purity and safety, for making medicine, and is best for making hydroalcohol tinctures.
grade edible alcohol, called ethanol, is used for producing maximum efficacy tinctures, three-stage filtered ethanol being of highest quality.

Distilled water is used with alcohol so that the pure water, without minerals and other particles, can extract the greatest concentration of constituents and nutrients from the macerated herbs into the menstruum.

Alcohol Content Measurement in the Menstruum

The alcohol content of a hydroalcohol menstruum is commonly and commercially measured in proof which can be converted directly to alcohol by volume abbreviated ABVABV is the abbreviation
"Alcohol by Volume" and represents the amount of alcohol in a tincture. For example: 40% ABV is 40% alcohol by volume and 60% water by volume which equal 100% when combined.

Alcohol proof is the content of alcohol in the menstruum which is double the alcohol content by volume (ABV).

  • 50 proof alcohol = 25% ABV
  • 80 proof alcohol = 40% ABV
  • 100 proof alcohol = 50% ABV
  • 150 proof alcohol = 75% ABV

Types of Hydroalcohol Tinctures

The alcohol content by volume (ABV) of the menstruum may vary depending on:

  • Amount of ABV used
  • Serving size and dosages
  • Expiration timeframe
  • Herbs and parts used
  • Purpose of use

Low Alcohol
18% - 25% ABV

Larger Dosages
1-3+ droppers

Expiration is 2 years

Low alcohol is used in tinctures for more constituent and nutrient density, such as with superfoods, tonics, and adaptogens, while also being a method that is easier-to-take by sensitive people to herbs.

Moderate-low Alcohol
30% - 35% ABV

Large Dosages
1-3 droppers

Expiration is 3 years

Moderate-low alcohol is used for larger doses that can be taken on a consistent basis, while promoting some of the medicinal benefits, and still somewhat easy-to-take by sensitive people to herbs.

Moderate Alcohol
40% ABV

Medium Dosages
20-60 drops

Expiration is 5 years

Moderate alcohol is a common standard for high potency in making homemade and commercial tinctures that is used for well-rounded tinctures of any herb and herb part.

Moderate-high Alcohol
45% - 60% ABV

Small Doses
10-40 drops

Expiration is 7 years

Moderate-high alcohol tinctures are used when more of the immediate medicinal effects of the benefits are desired in relation to the nutrients, as with barks, roots, and tubers.

High Alcohol
65% - 75% ABV

Smallest Doses
5-15 drops and possible up to 30 drops

Expiration is 10 years

High alcohol is specifically used only for medicinal herbs where the immediate effects of the benefits of the main desired active constituents are to be the main purpose, as with flowers, leaves, and stems.

Test the Dropper
1ml dropper = 20-40 drops
Average 1ml dropper is 30 drops

Preparing the Alcohol and Water Content of the Menstruum

To achieve any degree of alcohol desired when making homemade tinctures, use high content alcohol, such as 190 proof (95% ABV) or more, and dilute with distilled water.

Example Equation:

  1. (VOL Alcohol Proof) x
    (% ABV) =
    Total Alcohol VOL
  2. (Total Alcohol VOL) ÷
    (Total Menstruum VOL) =
    Total ABV
  3. (Total Menstruum VOL) -
    (Total Alcohol VOL) =
    Total Water VOL

VOL = volume

Example Math Work:

  1. (20 oz. 190 proof) x
    (95% ABV) =
    19 oz. alcohol VOL
  2. (19 oz. alcohol) ÷
    (Menstruum 32 oz.) =
    59% or ~ 60% ABV
  3. (Menstruum 32oz.) -
    (19oz. alcohol) =
    13oz. Water VOL

oz. = ounce

Tincture Handbook

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