Making Herbal Tinctures
Herbal tinctures are spirit-based powerful elixirs made from a concentration of one or more herbs. These tinctures are usually made from fresh plant material combined with an alcohol such as vodka or brandy, or another liquid such as vinegar or ethanol.
Selecting Your Spirits
Before herbalist can begin the process of making an herbal tinctures, they need to determine the type of alcohol that will combine with the plant material.
Although many commercial tinctures use 198-proof alcohol, many herbalists chose a simple, easy to obtain, affordable 100-proof vodka. Using a 100-proof alcohol can also ease the formulation process of a tincture.
Ways to Avoid or Reduce Alcohol Content
You can employ strategies to reduce the amount of alcohol in a tincture, if you become concerned with the alcohol-to-herb ratio.
- Placing the container in boiling water for one to two minutes after prepared can reduce the alcohol content by as much a fifty percent.
- Vinegar or glycerin can be added to the solution, although most experts believe this decreases the potency of the tincture.
How to Make a Tincture
Although many different methods exist to make herbal tinctures, certain basic steps apply to most tincture recipes. These include:
- Select herbs for the tincture
- Properly prepare by lightly cleaning and removing excess dirt and/or foreign matter – be careful not to thoroughly immerse or clean, as this could reduce potency
- Chop the stems, roots and leaves into a course material; flowers can be left whole
- Place herbs into a glass jar or container
- Add the liquid, ensuring all herbs/flowers are fully immersed
- Firmly seal the container
- Store in a temperature controlled environment for six to eight weeks for optimum flavor and affect
Storing in a cool and consistent temperature is best. Although tinctures do not require a cold environment, avoid higher temperatures that will affect the flavor of the tincture.
While being stored in its distilling period, it’s best to gently shake it periodically to allow the herbs and liquid to mix thoroughly.
After the weeks of distilling, strain herbs from the liquid; then pour the pure liquid into a clean, dry bottle for long-term storage and use.
Most herbalists advise getting into the habit of labeling bottles clearly with the herbs and liquids used in the tincture.
Advantages of Tinctures
Tinctures have several advantages, including:
- Tinctures remain potent for years
- A multitude of doses can be derived from a small amount of plant material
- Tinctures are very portable
- Most tinctures are fast acting, even in small doses
- Tinctures can be easily controlled
Herbal tinctures have been used for many years and most of the recipes are easy to follow. Adding too much alcohol to the tincture is easily fixed; in addition, alternative methods can reduce or eliminate alcohol all together.