In chemistry, a tincture is a solution that has alcohol as the solvent. To qualify as a tincture the alcoholic extract should have an ethanol percentage of at least 40-60% (80-120 proof). In herbal medicine, alcoholic tinctures are often made with various concentrations of ethanol, 25% being the most common. The first tinctures were in reality extracts or elixirs as the first alcoholic beverages known to man were only beer and wine. The maximum alcohol content was probably around 16% since at this strength all yeasts will die and the fermentation will come to an end. Stronger spirits could only be obtained by submitting weaker spirits like wine to the distillation process, however, the process was not known yet. Herbal tinctures usually use ethanol as a solvent for people who do not consume alcohol for medical, religious or moral reasons. Non-alcoholic tinctures made with glycerin or vinegar offer an alternative, although their use is strictly limited for medicinal purposes.
The basic types of tinctures:
Elixir - a clear, sweet-flavored liquid used for medicinal purposes, to be taken orally and intended to cure one's ills. Just enough alcohol is applied to completely dissolve the main ingredient and produce a clear solution. Vodka can be used for making elixirs.