If you like taking an active role in your health, and that of your family’s, you are already aware that herbal tinctures can be almost as effective as medicine, without very many side effects.
If you’ve ever thought about making an herbal tincture from home, relax. The process is simple – all you need are dried herbs, an airtight jar, and some alcohol.
If you want to make an herbal tincture from home, you will need to gather your dried herbs, grind the herbs to have a greater surface area, and place the herbs into an airtight jar. Then pour the alcohol in the jar, seal it, and wait 4-6 weeks before straining it.
It couldn’t be simpler, but if you want the thorough guide to making an herbal tincture from dried herbs at home, keep reading.
Gather the Dried Herbs
You can buy herbs already dried from a trusted herbal supplier or dry your own from fresh.
If you have an herb garden and want to dry your own, the process is simple if you have a food dehydrator. Place the washed herbs in a single layer on the trays, set the thermostat to around 115℉ (46.1℃), and let dry for up to four hours.
If you don’t have a food dehydrator, you can use your oven set to less than 180℉ (82.2℃). Then place your washed herbs on a cookie sheet and set the timer for 2-4 hours. While this method may not keep all of the herb’s potency due to the oven cooking them a little, they will still work for herbal tinctures.
Coarsely Grind the Herbs
Once you have your dried herbs, coarsely grind them to increase the alcohol’s surface area to extract the herbal properties. You can use a mortar and pestle if you have one or place the herbs in a food processor and quickly pulse a few times.
Another method you can use to grind your dried herbs is to place them between two sheets of paper towel and use a rolling pin over the herbs to crush them. Whichever method you use, take care not to macerate them completely.
Place Herbs in an Airtight Jar
Now that your herbs are ready, go ahead and place them in an airtight jar, such as a canning jar. Canning jars are relatively inexpensive, so if you don’t have any at the moment, you can go to the store and buy a pack of 12 for less than $15.
Since you are using dried herbs, you want to fill the jar only half full with your herbs. The reason for this is that the alcohol will rehydrate the herbs somewhat, and they will expand. You want some room for this to happen, or your tincture will overflow, making a mess that you don’t want.
With fresh herbs, you would fill the jar to the top since they are already full.
Pour Alcohol Into the Jar and Seal It
You’ll want to use food-grade alcohol, such as vodka (38-40-proof) or rectified spirit (90-95-proof), for your tinctures, since they will be consumed. It is good to use at least 38-proof to prevent mildew or mold on the plant material.
You want to cover the dried herbs with the alcohol to fill the jar. Since dried herbs will rehydrate somewhat, make sure that the jar remains full during the waiting period. If the alcohol level goes down a little, add more alcohol until it is full. You may only have to add it once or twice.
Now, seal the jar tightly, so that air and other contaminants don’t get in, ruining your tincture.
Wait Six Weeks, Then Strain the Tincture
Most tinctures take between 4-6 weeks to extract the nutrients into the alcohol fully. While you’re waiting, you will want to shake the jar every 2-3 days to make sure all the herbs are still covered.
When it is time to strain the mixture, you will need a cheesecloth, strainer, a container for the alcohol tincture, several small dark bottles with eye droppers, and a funnel.
To start, place a couple of layers of cheesecloth in a strainer positioned over a larger container. Gently pour the contents of the jar into the cheesecloth-lined strainer and set the jar aside. Next, pull the cheesecloth out of the strainer while gathering the ends together. Squeeze all the liquid you can into the strainer, until nothing but a few drops are coming out.
Throw away the herbs, as they are not useful anymore. Then, using the funnel, carefully pour the tincture into the smaller bottles: cover and label. Your tincture is now ready to use.
Can Powdered Herbs Be Used in Place of Dried Herbs?
You can use powdered herbs in your tinctures, but remember that they are stronger than dried herbs, so you need to use less powdered herbs when making your tinctures. The ratio of powdered herbs to alcohol is 4 ounces to 1 pint.
How Do You Make an Herbal Tincture Without Alcohol?
If you don’t want or can’t use alcohol to make your tincture, apple cider vinegar is a good substitute. The ratio of liquid to herbs is still the same, but you need to add a barrier between the top of the jar and the lid, like plastic wrap. Vinegar tends to corrode the cover, which may taint your tincture.
What Type of Alcohol Is Used for Tinctures?
Most spirits used for drinking will work, but vodka or other grain alcohols that are at least 40% alcohol by volume work best. When using dried herbs, your best bet is to stick to an 80 or 90-proof alcohol, as they don’t have a lot of juices left, and it is best for extracting any water that’s left in the herbs out of them.
How Long Do Herbal Tinctures Last?
When stored in a cool, dry place, herbal tinctures last at least three years, if not longer. If you use dark bottles, they will last longer because the light will not damage them. If your area is humid or hot several months out of the year, try storing them in the refrigerator during the hot and humid season, so they last longer.
How to Use Herbal Tinctures
Once you have your herbal tincture, what do you do with it? Most tinctures are best when placed directly under the tongue and held there a few seconds before swallowing. You will only need ¼ to 1 tsp of the tincture per serving. Most gentle herbs can be taken up to three times per day.
Some tinctures can be used topically, such as in water for bathing wounds or as a household disinfectant. You can also put a couple of teaspoons of any tincture in bathwater, combined with Epsom salt, for a relaxing and soothing bath.
Herbal tinctures can supplement any healthy lifestyle, as long as you aren’t on any medications that may interact with the tinctures. Consult your physician before starting any herbal medicine treatments.
Several well-known herbs, like peppermint, chamomile, feverfew, or ginger root, can be made to help upset tummies feel better or get rid of nausea. Chamomile is good for relaxation and an overall sense of well-being. Feverfew has been shown to relieve migraine headaches and other headaches. It is recommended that you not give tinctures to children.
Try diluting it in water or tea if the bitter flavor of the tinctures is too strong for you. You may find you can tolerate it a little better.
Recommened edequipment – what you may need to have to make such tincture at home
I hope that you have found my article useful. Below I’ve gathered all items that I am using when making my tinctures, some of them, like airtight jars, are necessary, some are just handy, you do not need to have them all to be able to make a good tincture.
- Airtight jars.
- Mortar for herbs – granite.
- Mortar for herbs – stainless steel.
- Funnels for filling bottles.
- Large bottles, dark glass.
- Medium bottles, dark glass.
- Small bottles with dropper, dark glass.
- Cloth for tincture filtering.
- Coffee filters for tincture filtering.
- Alcohol meter to check how strong is your vodka/spirit.
- Tincture press for better extraction.
Here you can also find a more detailed post with list of equipment that might be useful.
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If you are looking also for other recipes, check out my blog – I have written about almost 100 other tinctures, use the search option below and you might find what you are looking for:
- Urban Moonshine: How to Take a Tincture & Why
- Sun Oven: Making Herbal Tinctures
- Holistic Health Herbalist: How to Make Herbal Tinctures Using the Folk Method
- The Herbal Academy: How to Make a Tincture
- Inhabitat: DIY: How to Make Your Own Herbal Tinctures
- American College of Healthcare Sciences: How to Make a Successful Herbal Tincture (DIY)
- Mountain Rose Herbs: How to Make Herbal Tinctures
- Medical News Today: What is an Herbal Tincture? Recipes and Uses
- HGTV: How to Preserve Your Garden Herbs
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Drying