Bee propolis is a wonderful ingredient for your DIY body products, especially when you want to encourage healing. Unfortunately, raw bee propolis looks like clods of dirt, and as such is rather difficult to add to things as is. So, before you can easily add it to lotions, toners, and other concoctions, you need to turn it into a tincture. No worries, it’s very easy!
So, first things first. What is bee propolis? It’s a resinous substance that bees gather from trees and flowers. Just like honey, propolis varies from hive to hive. It’s used for many things inside the hive, including patching holes, inhibiting bacterial and fungal growth, and preventing putrefaction when large intruders (like mice) crawl into the hive and die. The broad make-up of propolis is “primarily resins and vegetable balsams (50%), waxes (30%), essential oils (10%), and pollen (5%)” (source).
Right. So, how to turn these sticky little clods of lovely stuffs into something a bit easier to use? It’s quite simple.
Start with about 2 tbsp of cold, raw propolis (frozen is best) and blend it in your DIY coffee grinder until you have a fine powder.
Transfer that powder to a small mason jar and top off with about two to four times as much clear grain alcohol, rubbing alcohol, or perfumery alcohol. The clear grain alcohol is generally the best choice since it’s safe for ingestion, but since it’s just me and I knew I wouldn’t be temped to do a shot of it, I used perfumery alcohol. Perfumery alcohol has the added benefit of being capable of dissolving even extra-resinous essential oils, making it a good choice for super-resinous propolis.
Stir to combine and cap the jar. Shake, and let sit for 24 hours or so, allowing the alcohol to dissolve whatever it can.
Once the mixture has sat for at least 24 hours, pass it through a fine sieve lined with a paper coffee filter to remove any solids.
It will take some stirring and waiting to get it all filtered. Do it while you’re baking or something.
Store the filtered tincture in a dark glass bottle and use a few drops at a time in lotions, creams, and toners. As this is a very concentrated tincture you may want to dilute it with extra alcohol if you tend to be a bit drop happy 😉 Discard the solids—they will be gross and sticky.
Warning: This makes a pretty sticky mess, mostly in the jar you let the mixture steep in. All the tree sap and what not dissolves down into a very gluey substance. So, consider making a bigger batch depending on how quickly you use propolis so you can avoid the mess as many times as possible.