Quality Checking Vinegar Tinctures: The Meaning of Cloudiness

There have been a lot of vinegar tinctures and infusions ongoing in the LisaLise lab for quite a while now. Some of it has been research, some of it is product development, and all of it continues to be fun and exciting work.

Although using vinegar as a solvent might seem brand new to some, it is nothing new.

Vinegar tinctures and extracts have been around for centuries. Most of them have been made for internal use, but sometimes also for external use (check this post for a bit of history about the use of 4 thieves vinegar).

Vinegar Tincture as a Cosmetic Ingredient

Even though tincture making has been around for ages, I'm happy to experience such a rapidly growing interest in making vinegar tinctures specifically for use as cosmetic ingredients.

And with growing interest comes an increase in questions.

Some questions have come from folks who bought this book, some have popped up via my Instagram account, some via Facebook, and some are from regular readers of this blog.

And because we're going to be doing a few skincare projects that include vinegar tinctures on this blog in just a tic, I decided to get busy with a little Q-&-A-type-series about vinegar tinctures and infusions to answer your questions in one place.

Today, we're going to examine what cloudiness means.

Defining Cloudiness

Cloudiness is used to describe any vinegar (or alcohol-based) tincture where the liquid is opaque. If you can't see through the liquid in the bottle, then you've got cloudiness.

To illustrate, the top of this post shows a cloudy tincture.

The picture was taken shortly after straining and bottling. This tincture was made with distilled white vinegar and crushed juniper berries.

A Cloudy Tincture Isn't Necessarily Bad

An opaque tincture doesn't necessarily mean it is wonky. As you can see from the picture above, even a freshly made tincture can be cloudy.

Here are a couple of the most common reasons for cloudiness.

1. Type of Vinegar Used

One reason for cloudiness could be the vinegar. Not all vinegars are the same.

In this post I showed you you to make a vinegar tincture using coconut vinegar. If you remember, my description of the coconut vinegar was 'frosted white'. If the vinegar isn't crystal clear to begin with, the end product won't be either.

2. Material Used

Another possible reason for cloudiness is the material infused. Some herbs and plant materials disintegrate into particles that are so fine they become difficult to remove even after straining.

Juniper is one example. To extract the most from juniper berries, it is recommended to crush or grind them before infusing.

And that's what I did. These were whacked with a rolling pin prior to infusing.

Note how opaque the liquid is in the picture at the top. Despite being strained through several layers of muslin and followed by 2 passes through paper filters, the liquid is still cloudy.

If the material is the cause of the cloudiness, to all you need to do is let the tincture stand undisturbed for a while.

Below is one of the bottles (after some use) and a couple of undisturbed weeks in my ingredients fridge.

Seeing residue settled at the bottom of a bottle might look worrying, but in this instance, it's a bit of good news.

The clear liquid that took 14 days to achieve by letting nature take its course might have been achievable with advanced filtering equipment, but that's not even necessarily the case.

Even some commercially produced tinctures will have residue. I've experienced this on more than one occasion.

Tip For Using Tinctures With Residue

If your requirement is a crystal clear tincture and you have a very steady hand, it is possible to carefully pour off the clear liquid into a new bottle. Use the remainder of the tincture in a product that doesn't require a clear liquid.

Coming Up

Next time we look at vinegar tinctures, we'll take a look at which vinegars to choose and what kinds of results to expect from different types of vinegars.

Do Tell

Have you ever experienced a cloudy tincture? What did you do? If you have any questions about vinegar tinctures as cosmetics ingredients, feel free to add it in a comment below.

More About Vinegar and Tinctures on this Blog

What Vinegar Has to Do With Cosmetics
How to Make a Pomegranate Vinegar Tincture
Straining Tinctures and Extracts Using a Vegetable Drinks Maker


LisaLise said…
HI Rebecca - thanks!
Madi said…
Hello! I am new to herbal medicine, putting it into real life that is! I've been reading and studying about it for years and decided to try some vinegar tinctures. I started a dandelion root tincture in Apple Cider Vinegar last August. Through life happening, I forgot about it and just recently found it. It is a light yellow, with a small layer of cloudiness on the bottom that mixes through the jar when I shake it up. So it's been sitting steeping with the roots since August, and I am nervous to start using it. Can I ask your thoughts about it?
LisaLise said…
Hello Madi — does it smell all right? A nose test can give you an indication of whether or not to use it. I would try straining, then letting the strained liquid stand indisturbed to see if the liquid goes clear.
Tessa said…
I made a Usnea and ACV tincture and it is very cloudy. It is extremely hard to tell if there is a bad smell due to the strong ACV smell. It is almost ready to strain and package. I'm just not sure if it has gone bad.
LisaLise said…
Hi Tessa — has the scent changed underway? That would be a good indicator — always a good idea to do a regular nose test ☺️