Our private Facebook group is made up of tens of thousands of people from around our world. Some of our contributors dive deep into the science of vanilla extract, and Starlette is one of our favorites. 

Make new friends, learn a new craft and get 50% OFF your first vanilla extract starter kit by signing up for a virtual extract making class by clicking here and registering today. 

Given the regular and recurring questions asked by our group members about the use of Everclear in extract making, Starlette decided to run an experiment of her own and she has invited all of us to follow along.


Introduction: February 22, 2021

Everclear High Proof Comparison -
I'm posting this mainly for our newcomers to vanilla making and to the group for informational purposes because I thought it was a cool experiment! I am not by all means a pro or is my way, the right way. Its about sharing my knowledge I've gained from extracting over the last 8 years.
I've seen some posts going around about extracting with undiluted, high proof Everclear and it's starting to confuse some. So I want to share with you my results with high proof Everclear 190.
Let me begin by saying, that Vanilla Bean Pods have over 250 complex flavorings that are extracted at different times during the process of 12-18 months. Some of these flavors are extracted by the alcohol and some of the flavorings are extracted by the water. That being said, if you use a high proof alcohol with minimal water you are not getting all the flavorings out of the beans before they start hardening. Yes, they do harden in high proof alcohol. Maybe not to a crisp, but the outer casing will. In this experiment I used Everclear 190, full strength and diluted with distilled water.
The picture shows vanilla beans in the 3 separate proofs. The jar on the left is Everclear diluted to 100 proof, the middle jar is Everclear diluted to 140 proof, and the jar on the right is straight Everclear 190 proof.
190 Proof - The straight 190 proof Everclear fried my beans to a crisp within a half an hour. Even now after almost a month it still looks about the same.
140 Proof - The Everclear diluted to 140 proof is changing slow with no hint of vanilla fragrance. The outer casing of the beans are harder but still pliable.
100 Proof - The Everclear diluted to 100 proof, the vanilla is dark, rich, and smells good. This Proof seems to be extracting the best of them all.
The FDA recommends extracting at 70-100 proof to get the best results and to follow their guidlines, 80 proof is what most of us use. 1 ounce of beans to each cup of alcohol is the ratio for single strength.
This is my experience with high proof alcohol. My recommendation would be the same as the FDA requirements, 70-100 proof. After all, don't we want excellent Vanilla Extract instead of just good😋I know, I do. Yum Yum
Everclear experiment
Update #1: March 3, 2021
Almost a month into the Everclear high-proof experiment and it appears not much has happened with the diluted 140 proof and the straight 190 proof. But the 100 proof is working away. I cut the beans smaller to see if it helps. These jars havent been shaken, just sitting around doing their thing.
Everclear 190 - I used this alcohol straight. The color hasnt changed much even after a month of extracting. This jar has no scent of vanilla, only alcohol and the beans are hard as rocks.
Everclear 140 - This jar was diluted with distilled water to bring the proof down to 140. There is a hint of vanilla fragrance in the jar but only a very small amount and the color has changed a bit. The outside of the bean is hard but still pliable.
Everclear 100 - This jar was also diluted with distilled water and seems to be doing the best. The fragrance of this jar smells amazing. Dark, rich, and the Beans are soft and still very pliable.
I'm still going to let them sit in hopes of a better output within a year. More later😋
Everclear in vanilla extract
VanillaPura Vanilla Pro


Welcome to the world of extracting Sandy! A great place to start would be following our recipe for Homemade Vanilla Extract, you can copy and paste the link below into your browser or search for ‘DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract’ in our recipe collection :-)


You can also get plentiful help and tips by joining our Facebook group ‘Making Vanilla Extract by VanillaPura’ (https://www.facebook.com/groups/makingvanillaextractathome)

— VanillaPura Pro

Im new to extract making but not to tincture making. This is how i was taught to make tinctures to get the whole range of medicine from the herbs. I wish more people understood this in reguards to both. Good information here.

— Amanda

So 1st)…..I’m new to this,
2nd) …..How do I efficiently, inexpensively (as possible) make
-Vanilla Extract ?!?!

— Sandy Turner

To make it easier… Using a whole Everclear 750ml bottle, the dilution with distilled water goes as follows:

Using 190 proof Everclear:
to make it 100 proof add 675ml of water
95 proof add 750ml water
80 proof add 1031 ml of water

Using 151 proof Everclear:
to make it 100 proof add 383ml water
90 proof add 508 ml water
80 proof add 665 ml water

Using 120 proof Everclear:
100 proof add 150 ml water
90 proof add 250 ml water
80 proof add 375ml water

— Janna Stein

There is a standard formula that can be used for diluting liquids. Here we would use:
Proof 1 x Volume 1= Proof 2 x Volume 2 (P1 V1 = P2 V2)
Where Proof 1 (P1) is the starting proof of your alcohol, Volume 1 (V1) is the unknown we are solving for, Proof 2 (P2) is the final proof you desire and Volume 2 (V2) is the final volume you are making.
For example: you have 190 proof Everclear and you want to make a quart (32 oz) of 100 proof. What volume of 190 proof (V1) and how much distilled water do you use?
V1 = P2 xV2 / P1
V1 = 100 proof x 32 oz / 190 proof = 3200 / 190 = 16.8 oz (a little more than 2 cups)
Next you solve for the water:
Final volume V2 – calculated volume V1 = volume of water needed
32 oz – 16.8 oz = 15.2 oz ( a little less than 2 cups)
So, if you mixed. 2 cups of 190 proof with 2 cups of distilled water, you would have very close to 100 proof (95 proof).
I hope this helps.

— Melanie

Hi Veronica,
The bean to alcohol ratio is 1 ounce of vanilla beans to 8 ounces of alcohol.
Happy Extracting!:)

— VanillaPura Pro

How many vanilla beans go into an eight ounce container?

— Veronica Swink

Like many here, they have $100+ of beans in jars of full 95% everclear. The beans have been soaking for 8 months. Q1 – should I add water now to make 40%, and if so what type of water, tap, boiled, distilled, something else. Q2 – when I add room temp tap water, the solution clouds. How can I uncloud it? Is there a way to add the get the solution to be clear?

— David

Hi, thanks for tips. I’m excited to soak my vanilla beans in 70-100 proof Everclear. Can I just cut the pods in half to fit better in my jar? How much distlled water & Everclear do I use for 4 ounces of vanilla beans? What other flavors of alcohol do you suggest & how much distlled water do I include. Thanks!

— Jen

The jar in your experiment that was labeled 100 proof was watered down. because you started with 190 proof. Correct? So I have a 1 liter bottle of 151 proof Everclear that needs water added to make it under 100 proof to make my vanilla! I cannot figure out how much water to add. So how much water would you add to say 1 cup of 151 proof Everclear? In all the posts online and everywhere they talk about 190 proof but not 151 proof and then they just tell you how much water is already in the 151 proof. This is driving me cuckoo!!

— Roberta

How do you use 42.5% alcohol with 151 proof Everclear? I just bought 1 liter.

— Roberta

Hi Starlette, just wondered if you have any pictures of this experiment now that’s it’s been a year. It would be great to see. Thanks so much for everything you do!

— Kimberly Nolan

I would like to see the reference that says FDA recommends or requires 70-100 proof. All I find is that the FDA requires a Minimum of 70 proof (35%).
Many federal standards are a minimum requirement to protect the health of the general public and protect from the old “snake oil “ salesmen of the past.

Very informative post, but I have had repeated success with 190 proof for vanilla ( and other) and will continue to use 190 proof.

Thanks !!

— Jeff

For the everclear users, did you split the vanilla beans down the center? This is how so was told to do this and my vanilla extract turned out perfect!!

— Tracie Chavis

Why would you use distilled water? Water that has everything cooked out of it. Why not spring water?

— John Deans

I heard about extracting with Everclear in early 2021 but did not get a lot of this information. It had been extracting from early April 2021 to near end of December before I realized there may be a problem. I extract in dark amber swing-top beer bottles, so the color of the extract is not obvious by looking at the bottle. Yesterday I decided to pour out the extract and combine it with distilled water to lower the alcohol percentage. (I diluted to something like a 55:45 ratio, with the distilled water being the 45.) First of all, I was SHOCKED to see how DARK the extract had become. I have been extracting vanilla for just a couple of years and never have gotten it that dark before. However, I don’t want to smell alcohol when I open a vanilla bottle; I want to get a whiff of VANILLA, so I proceeded with my plan to get somewhere in the range of 100 proof, poured the extra alcohol concoction in another bottle for future fresh vanilla beans, and returned the beans that had been sitting in 190 proof Everclear for 9 months back into the bottle with the now-100 proof alcohol. After mixing the distilled water with the 190-proof alcohol extraction, it became very cloudy. My understanding is that since I used distilled water I can expect it to clear up within a few days. We’ll see!

— Michele

To Dusty,
Is the alcohol 40% or 40 proof.? If it is 40% alcohol ? At 40% alcohol= 80 proof. This is for Vodka.
Different Range of Alcohol Content in Different Alcoholic Beverages
S.No. Alcoholic Drinks ABV Proof
1. Brandy, Gin, Tequilla, Vodka, and Whiskey 40% 80
2. Rum 50% 100
3. Flavored Vodkas 35% 75
4. Cointreau and Benedictine 40% 80

— Diane W Jones

Wish I had found this before I made my vanilla back in January 2021 with straight 190 proof Everclear. I found a recipe for it online and decided to give it a go but they never said anything about diluting it I have 3 bottles of it that even now haven’t changed much. My beans don’t seem to be hard as rocks but the color really hasn’t changed at all. Is there a way I can salvage this at all? Even if it means diluting and adding new beans, I would be willing to try that I guess. Better than dumping right?

— Kristi

Oh dear. The bottle of vodka I used to start my first extracts earlier this month is only 40proof.
Have I ruined my extracts??

Tried googling an answer and nothing comes up remotely helpful.
Please help if you can, thanks!

— Dusty

Hi Ronald!
Great question. The alcohol has already been “proofed.” Proofing just refers to how there are two times alcohol by volume. For example, a 120 Proof Alcohol would be 60% alcohol. :) Hope this helps!

— VanillaPura

How do I proof the everclear?

— Ronald Harper

1st batch i made with striaght 190 proof everclear. Didn’t turn out that well for cooking but incredibly delicious for sipping. Glad I stumbled upon this website before committed all of my madagascar grade A beans for entertaining. going to go with two batches this time. 50% of beans in 190 proof and the other half in diluted 190 proof everclear.
Thank you for the great article

— Nic

I didn’t understand the adding water to 190 proof everclear. I put my beans in full strength on 8/27 21! Help. Can I still selvage my 6 jars? What exactly should I do?? Thank you for any help.

— Joellen

I have 120 proof everclear. How much distilled water to the everclear? Please

— Laurie Murphy

Using alcohol with 100+proof will dry out your beans, that’s why the 190 period jar is hard and not extracting. If you use grain alcohol to extract you must dilute with distilled water a couple days before adding your beans.

— Rissa

Why would you choose to use Everclear rather than vodka to begin with?

— Cindy Johnson

William, try buying 80 proof vodka. I use Platinum 7X. It’s an extra smooth vodka, not real expensive & sure makes delicious vanilla extract. I asked a scientist friend of mine & he recommended it. I don’t drink alcohol of any kind & the Everclear made a bitter twang to the extract. Hope this helps! Good luck.

— Bea

If you mix equal parts of 190 proof (95% alcohol) Everclear and water you will have an 80 proof (40% alcohol) result.

If you mix 4 parts 100 proof Everclear to 1 part water it will yield 80 proof result.
Someone in the FB group linked: http://distillique.co.za/DC/index.htm#home to calculate using the blending tab.

— Rich Adams

I am beginning my first attempt at Vanilla Extract. I am unsure what spirit, and vanilla bean to use for the best possible extract. Looking for advice.

— William

Dumb question. How much distilled water is added to get the 140 and 100 proof?

— Renee

Thank you, Starlette! Looking forward to further updates, as I have a friend who has 5 gallons of Everclear and they keep offering it to me for vanilla extract. I may have to take them up on their offer now!

— Lori

Thanks for sharing this experiment and for the update. I’ll be following, and likely brewing a batch or two with Everclear, myself.

— Katie Fast

Great information, thank you!

— Harold Conklin

Thank you for sharing. Very,very informative.

— Teresa

Ok still very new at this . So for the everclear 100 mix what amount of water do you use? Sorry if this sounds dumb.

— Lee Schultz