Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Making Tinctures

One of my favorite things about being an Herbalist is concocting herbal tinctures.  A tincture is a medicinal extract in a solution of alcohol.  I have been crafting my own tinctures for over a decade and use them daily. I encourage you to do research to determine if herbal tinctures are right for you.  I know that tinctures are a wonderful way to receive the healing power of herbs and plants and a great supplement to a healthy diet.  A few books that helped me learn the art of tincture making are........


I use the maceration method when making tinctures.  Basically, I soak dried or fresh plant material in Vodka for 6 weeks and then decant, press, filter and bottle up my tinctures.

I like to use herbs that I purchase from Mountain Rose Herbs when I can't grow them in my own garden or wild craft them nearby.  I use organic herbs as much as possible.  I grind the dried herbs into a powder, or purchase them already ground from Mountain Rose Herbs.

You need Vodka as the menstruum.  This is where research into making tinctures comes in handy.  Depending on the plant material and if it is fresh or dried, the percent of alcohol in the menstruum varies.  Sometimes I use 75.5% Everclear and sometimes I use just 50% alcohol Vodka.  Both of the books I mentioned above have handy charts for your reference.  Mountain Rose Herbs offered the following Alcohol Percentages on their blog.

40% – 50% (80-90 proof vodka)
• “Standard” percentage range for tinctures.
• Good for most dried herbs and fresh herbs that are not juicy.
• Good for extraction of water soluble properties.

67.5% - 70% (½ 80 proof vodka + ½ 190 proof grain alcohol)
• Extracts most volatile aromatic properties.
• Good for fresh high-moisture herbs like lemon balm, berries, and aromatic roots.
• The higher alcohol percentage will draw out more of the plant juices.

85% – 95% (190 proof grain alcohol)
• Good for gums and resins.
• Extracts aromatics and essential oils that are bound in the plant and do not dissipate easily.
• The alcohol strength can produce a tincture that is not quite pleasant to take.
• Often used for drop dosage medicines.
• Will totally dehydrate herbs.

I use sterile canning jars when making tinctures.  Never use plastic, rubber or metal jars as the menstruum can cause the container material to leach out into the tincture.

I use a scale to measure out my powdered plant material. When using dried herbs, I usually do 1 ounce of herbs to 5 ounces of Vodka. This makes a 1:5 ratio.

Transfer the herb into your canning jar.

Measure out your Vodka (menstruum).

Pour the Vodka over the dried herb.  You will notice air bubbles forming.  These need to be removed.

Simply use a clean utensil or stick to stir the herb and menstruum together well.  Make sure the plan material is totally soaked by the menstruum.

Cap the jar tightly, Give it a good shake.  Apply a label.

Your label should say the name of the plant material, the botanical name, if it is fresh or dried, the part of the plant used. The ratio of herb/mentstruum. When it was made and when it will be ready.

You can already notice that the menstruum is starting to extract the medicinal properties from the plant material.  You need to keep this in a cool, dry, dark place and shake it several times per day.

After a minimum of 6 weeks, you simply pour off the clear tincture from the very top, and press the remaining liquid from the wet plant material through clean cotton fabric. You can filter the tincture again by pouring it through clean cotton fabric into your bottles.

I like to use the amber colored dropper bottles from Mountain Rose Herbs.  Make sure to label these jars as well.  Enjoy!!!
I know you are excited to get started making your own tinctures. Head over to Mountain Rose Herbs for their Bulk Herbs and amber colored dropper bottles. 




Mountain Rose Herbs

This information is for educational purposes only, it is not intended to treat, cure, prevent or, diagnose any disease or condition. Nor is it intended to prescribe in any way. This information is for educational purposes only and may not be complete, nor may its data be accurate. As with all herbs, . Do not take internally unless working with a qualified and expert practitioner. Keep away from children.  I am an affiliate with Mountain Rose Herbs,please review my disclosure page for details. . Avoid use  unless discussed with your physician.