Make a Glycerite
Glycerites (tinctures/extracts made with glycerine) are syrupy liquids that provide an alcohol-free alternative to the more popular alcohol tincture. Glycerine has a sweet taste but doesn't affect sugar levels. It is preferred by children over an alcohol or vinegar tincture. We normally mix our glycerites with alcohol tinctures to reduce the sweetness. Some have used honey or even sugar syrup in the place of glycerine but the taste is less than desirable!
As with all remedies, directions for making glycerites vary from one book to another. The ABC Herbal includes simmering the herbs in the glycerine and water for 2-3 hours as a part of the instructions. Though we simmer ours for longer, we consider this a good method since it worked for the author and many others. We make ours by filling a jar 1/3-1/2 full of herbs (1/2 full makes the brew stronger). Add just enough hot water to get the herbs wet and fill the jar to about 1/2 inch from the top with glycerine. After closing the jar tightly, place it in a crock-pot with a small towel underneath to keep the jar from breaking. Fill the crock-pot with water up to the top of the jar (not touching the lid), and leave it on the lowest setting for 3 days, keeping the glycerine hot but not boiling, and add water as necessary.
After about 3 days, carefully strain the hot and sticky herbal mixture through a cheesecloth into a glass container. Squeeze the herbs a bit, pour a small amount of boiling water over them, and then discard them. Close tightly and label the glycerite tincture. We have kept and used our tinctures for several years.
By the way, if your crock-pot gets too hot on the lowest setting, the herbs will smell like they are cooking and turn dark and strong smelling within 24 hours. This will not ruin the glycerite, but it does speed up the process and may not be quite as effective as a slow heat. We have a crock-pot that gets too hot, so after about 42 hours, we go ahead and strained the mixture, and it is just fine. You can also water bathe the herb/glycerine mixture by placing the closed jar in hot water on the stove for 3 days. The idea is to break down the herbs so that the properties are released into the glycerine. You have succeeded when the mixture becomes dark and strong smelling.
The following books have been our best references on making our own tinctures at home over the years: