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After my recent herbal mocktail class, I wanted to highlight some ways herbs can be prepared without the use of alcohol to extract. There are many reasons some people avoid tinctures, and alcohol-free herbal preparations offer a viable alternative.

Water Extracts:

Water Infusions are the simplest option, and are really just a fancy way of saying TEA! By steeping dried or fresh herbs in hot water, you can extract the beneficial compounds and create a flavorful and medicinal beverage. Herbal teas can be enjoyed hot or cold, and offer a gentle way to experience the healing properties of herbs.

Similar to water infusions, decoctions involve simmering herbs in water for a longer period of time to extract the medicinal compounds. This method is particularly useful for harder plant materials, such as roots, barks, and seeds. Decoctions are known for their stronger and more concentrated flavors, making them ideal for herbs that require a longer extraction time.


Glycerites are alcohol-free herbal extracts made by using vegetable glycerin as a solvent. This is what you will commonly find on the market for alcohol-free herbal concentrates. Glycerin is a sweet, viscous liquid often derived from soy. The reason I don’t go for glycerine extracts often is becuase you really do need a commercial preparation for most of these. Glycerine at home will not extract many plant constituents nearly as well as alcohol. In fact, most commercial preparations are actually alcohol extracts that the alcohol has been evaporated off and glycerine added. They aren’t my personal preference, but can work for many.


Now, my favorite alcohol-free extracts are vinegar based extracts, if you add vinegar+herbs+honey, you get what is called an Oxymel (oxy meaning acid, and mel referring to honey). Apple cider vinegar is commonly used for this purpose, due to its mild flavor and health benefits. Vinegar extracts are especially useful for extracting minerals and other water-soluble compounds from herbs, and give you a wider range of extract than water or glycerine can offer. They also are able to protect some constituents that would be destroyed in an alcohol extract. The acidic vinegar and the honey also allow these to be shelf stable for about 6 months, or 1 year in the fridge. They taste great, and you can make them at home, making them my favorite option for the average home herbalist.

There is a quick oxymel receipe below if you want to try it yourself~

Simple Syrup:

Herbal simple syrups are a special occasion item for me and they taste AMAZING. I don’t use these to get medicinal doses on the regular as they are literally just sugar water+ herbs. We all know the immune suppressing action of sugar so I don’t take it often but is a absolutely beautiful way to preserve the aromatic elements of herbs for things like herbal mocktails! These are great for things with delicate flavors like lemon balm, lavender, and mints. These are easy to make and are just a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water boiled with medicinal herbs.

Recipe below if you want to try~


Oxymel Recipe: 

  • Glass jar with plastic lid
  • Dried herb of choice
  • 1 part apple cider vinegar
  • 1 part honey
  • In a clean, dry jar – fill your jar with about 1/4 dry herb(s)
  • Mix honey and ACV in a 1:1 ratio and pour over herbs until almost full
  • Stir with a spoon until mixture is well combined, and then top off with more ACV and Honey until jar is full
  • Cover jar with plastic lid (note that the acid will erode any metal if you were to use a traditional mason jar lid – even wax paper in between will not prevent the acid from the vinegar)
  • Shake jar every 1-2 days
  • After about 2-4 weeks, strain the mixture and enjoy in a dropper bottle
  • A typical dose would be 2-4 droppers, but this depends on the herb you chose

Simple Syrup Recipe: 

  • Pot
  • 1/2-1 part dried or fresh aromatic herbs of your choice
  • 1 part water
  • 1 part cane sugar
  • Bring water and sugar to boil
  • Lower heat to low and add herbs, cover and cook for a few minutes and remove from heat
  • With lid still on (to keep aromatics intact) allow mixture to cool for an hour
  • Strain and store in glass jar in fridge
  • Will keep for a few weeks refrigerated

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