Removing Alcohol from Tinctures


David McCluggage, D.V.M., C.V.A.

Alcohol tinctures are made for two reasons:

  1. The alcohol preserves the tincture.
  2. During the alcohol extraction process certain compounds (especially lipid soluble compounds) are removed from the herb that boiling (e.g. making a tea) does not remove.

However, alcohol is not safe for cats or birds. Therefore, the alcohol content of the tincture must be lowered. The most effective process for lowering the alcohol content is as follows:

  • Open the bottle, place the bottle in the top of a double boiler, and boil for 10-15 minutes
  • Replace the alcohol lost in this process by adding boiling water to fill the bottle to its original full level
  •  Let cool and replace the dropper
  •  This should lower the resulting alcohol content approximately 50% or more, making it safe for cats and birds

Note: The resulting tincture will no longer be preserved. Bacteria can grow in the bottle if the dropper is contaminated with the animal's tongue or saliva. It is best to use a different dropper than the one in the bottle and clean the dropper between uses. Also, keep the tincture you created refrigerated.

There are some low-alcohol and alcohol-free tinctures which we carry.