c. Incompatibilities. Because tinctures, like the spirits, are alcoholic solutions,
more than a slight dilution with aqueous or low alcoholic solutions will cause
precipitation of the active ingredients. Most tinctures are acid in reaction to litmus and
have the incompatibilities of the acids. A few are alkaline. Tinctures should be stored in
tight, light resistant containers, protected from the direct rays of the sun and excessive
a. Definition. Elixirs are clear, sweetened, hydro-alcoholic liquids intended for
oral use. They contain flavoring substances and, in some cases, active medicinal
agents. The primary solvents in elixirs are alcohol and water. Sugar or other agents
are added as sweeteners. Elixirs are used either as vehicles or for the effect of the drug
they contain (for example, phenobarbital elixir).
b. Characteristics. Elixirs are clear, usually brilliantly colored medications
pleasing to the eye and the palate (taste). Because of their palatability, this form of
medication is often given to infants and children.
(1) Types of elixirs. There are two types of elixirs. The medicated elixirs
are used for their medicinal and therapeutic effects. The nonmedicated elixirs are used
as flavoring agents and vehicles.
(2) Versatility. They are easy to prepare and are stable forms of
medication. Their range of application is limited only by the number of medications that
can be made into elixir form. Generally, the alcohol content of elixirs, ranging from 4
percent to 40 percent, is limited to an amount sufficient to keep the medication or active
principles in solution.
(3) Incompatibility. Elixirs are often incompatible with aqueous solutions
and hydro-alcoholic solutions with very low alcohol content. When combined with such
solutions, the elixir generally throws some of its dissolved material out of solution
because its alcohol content has been reduced. On the other hand, the aqueous
solution precipitates its dissolved material because its alcohol content has been
increased. Of course, the incompatibilities of specific active ingredients can vary widely.