SweetGum Tincture

June 25, 2020, at 12:11 PM by Geoffrey? in Use your wits, Foraging, Health, Tincture (1 comments)

Sweetgum Trees

I learned recently about the amazing benefits from Sweetgum. Most homeowners where I live look at the Sweetgum tree as a nuisance (which it certainly can be), and have them removed with the loblolly pines which are common where I live. Recently on one of my foraging groups, one of my foraging idols, shared the recipe I will be sharing below regarding making this tincture. I have an entirely new outlook on this tree, and although I'll be harvesting the sweetgums on my property to use for ShiitakeLogs, they are plentiful in the area, and will certainly harvest them when they cross my path.

Sweetgum Trees are hardwood trees, and take 20-30 years to mature enough to produce the Sweetgum balls.

Sweetgum Balls

What makes Sweetgum balls so valuable medicinally? Shikimic acid. It is the one of the main chemicals in Tamiflu. Tamiflu is one of the only proven treatments for preventing, and slowing down the flu virus. So from a practical standpoint in these times, having some of this tincture around may be VERY USEFUL.

These are the 3 dimensional balls with spikes on them, which can wreak havoc on bare feet. I find they are almost the equivalent of Stickerburs, but much larger, and the ability to inflict a lot more damage.

Sweetgum Balls seat

The tricky thing about harvesting these balls, is the ones you want are GREEN, and have not dropped from the tree yet. And since the trees need to be older, the Sweetgum Balls can be high up. Many wild Sweetgum trees are not pruned or taken care of, and they have a higher propensity of having boughs close enough to the ground to harvest. In some cases, you may need to get creative or use a ladder or a lift in order to get them down.

SweetGum Ball Tincture Recipe

I take no credit for this recipe, it was posted on a foraging website where I quickly implemented its recipe.

SweetGum Recipe

The picture above has everything you need to make a sweetgum tincture. You can choose to use any type of high proof alcohol. Vodka, Gin, Rum, are all effective. I happen to have 3 handles of Everclear on hand, so decided to use it. Everclear is actually not my favorite alcohol to use (mainly because it is so strong when consumed), but I do think the higher proof alcohols provide for a better extraction.

Tools/Ingredients Needed:

  • Jar (any size will work)
  • Plastic lid for jar, or use parchment paper under a metallic lid
  • Hammer
  • Everclear
  • Sweetgum Balls (Green ones plucked from a healthy tree)


  1. Smash the SweetGum balls with a Hammer
  2. Drop smashed sweetgum balls into your jar (leave enough room for some air, and room for the smashed balls to be completely covered with liquid
  3. Pour in your liquor of choice (I use Everclear)
  4. Seal your jar with the top (Note: if using a metal lid, put a piece of parchment paper under it so the metal doesn't touch the liquid)

Directions Post Recipe:

  • Shake the Tincture Daily or as often as you remember
  • Ready to be strained in 6 weeks
  • Store @ room temperature away from sunlight
Sweetgum finalsmashed sweetgum in JarSweetgum in Jar side

1 comments on "SweetGum Tincture"

  • Jacqueline: 2021-06-17 20:45 -0500

    I would like permission to use your photos for sweetgum ball tincture in a blog post on getting shikimic acid from them. I would point back to your blog as the source with each photo. You can reach me at deeprootsathome@gmail.com I write DeepRootsatHome.com and would love to get the word out to more people. Thank you for your help and consideration.
    Blessings, Jacqueline

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Page last modified on June 17, 2021, at 08:45 PM