Fun With Propolis

Propolis is produced by honey bees, for various reasons but mostly because creating interesting substances — honey, wax, royal jelly, propolis, slurm* — is what bees do. It’s kind of their wheelhouse.

Anyway, depending on your frame of reference, propolis either resembles pine-scented silly putty or opium.

And what do you with it? Well, many people claim that propolis has health benefits. I don’t. I’m not saying it doesn’t or couldn’t, just that there’s no proof of its curative properties.

However, I’ve noticed that most endorsements tend to follow a certain pattern:

  • “It makes your skin soft and radiant (when mixed with shea butter, jojoba, or olive oil)!”
  • “It soothes sore throats (when mixed with honey)!”
  • “It may cure cancer (when used in combination with surgery, chemo, and radiation therapies).”
  • Or, my personal favorite: “It’s good for what ails you…when you mix it with booze and down the lot.”

Anyway, just for fun, we decided to make a propolis tincture.

Here’s one easy recipe for propolis tincture: dissolve it in Everclear.**

"propolis tincture preparation"

That’s right, add 1 part propolis to 9 parts grain alcohol (ours is 95%ABV; you might be able to go higher, particularly if you have kinfolk of the old school).

Then shake, shake, shake…

Propolis Dissolve Propolis Shake
shake, shake, shake…

"propolis tincture preparation"
Shake your booze-y.

Then, wrap it up and put it somewhere dark and warm.
"propolis tincture preparation"

For the next couple of weeks after that, shake the jar once or twice a day. Once it’s ready, strain it, add a few drops to the beverage of your choice (do NOT shotgun this swill), and enjoy.

Once again, no guarantees that it will cure you of anything — but, quite frankly, you’ll neither remember nor care that you were ever sick. So that’s something.


*Kidding. Everyone knows that Slurm comes from Wurmulon.
**It is basically a legal, though somewhat restricted, version of moonshine. Which isn’t to say that it’s the only kind one can obtain. When my youngest brother came to visit, he asked me where people go to get a drink — because we grew up in an area with a church and a bar on literally every block — and I didn’t really have a good answer for him, beyond “there are a couple of annoying hipster ‘social clubs’ downtown.” Now I think I do: I think people make their own.
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