How to Make A Tincture

Echinacea root tincture
Echinacea root tincture | Source

As an herbalist and naturopath, there is much to learn. I hope to pass on information as I gain it myself. The information I provide is not intended to be in place of seeking needed professional medical help. However, with the use of natural methods, one can prevent or "cure" conditions that lead to more serious conditions. Most of my information comes from personal experience with getting fibromyalgia under control using natural remedies and herbal supplements; helping others with myriad health issues; classes taken in Colorado and New York and online; my growing collection of books on the subject, and; general research.

Grape vodka going into mullein tincture
Grape vodka going into mullein tincture | Source

Definition of Tincture

A tincture is a concentrated liquid extract of herbs.

It is usually taken by the dropperful and is usually diluted in warm water. A tincture can also be diluted in juice for a more pleasant taste for children. As with any natural remedy, you want to be careful when administering.

How Much Alcohol?

You can easily figure out the amount of alcohol in a spirit. The alcohol content is equal to half the proof number. So, if the spirit is 80 proof, there is 40% alcohol.

To make a tincture, you want alcohol that is 80-100 proof.

Ingredients for my echinacea root tincture
Ingredients for my echinacea root tincture | Source

What Goes Into a Tincture?

There are only two main things needed for a tincture:

  1. Solvent/Extractant: this is usually alcohol, vegetable glycerin, or apple cider vinegar.
  2. Herb: the type of herb and part used will be based on the purpose of the tincture.

The most potent extractant is alcohol.The most typical types of alcohol used are vodka, gin, and brandy. If you want to use alcohol for its potency but still want to reduce the amount of alcohol in the end, there are methods that include boiling that can help remove some alcohol content after the curing process.

However, there are many people who cannot tolerate alcohol (like myself) or opt not to use it. Note that vegetable glycerin is good for kids because it does have a sweet taste and is natural. Apple cider vinegar will have a more bitter, acidic taste, and like vegetable glycerin is not as potent a solvent as alcohol. However, all are excellent preservatives.

Directions for Making a Tincture

How to Make a Tincture

There are several ways to make a tincture. This version is based on Rosemary Gladstar's simple version in her book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. People often refer to this method as the folk method. The annotations are a combination of notes from the aforementioned book and notes I took while training in Colorado, New York and online.

What You Need:

  1. Glass jar with a plastic lid
  2. Solvent/Extractant of choice (see above)
  3. Herb of choice
  4. Time (it takes a minimum of 20 days to cure. Most go with 6 weeks)

Catnip tincture
Catnip tincture | Source

Steps for Making a Tincture:

  1. Finely chop your herbs. The finer the better. (See note below).
  2. Place the herbs in a clean, dry glass jar. Pack them tightly to fill between 1/2 to 3/4 of the jar.
  3. Fill jar with enough extractant to cover the herbs and reach between 2-3 inches above the herbs. (See note below).
  4. Cover the mixture tightly with a plastic lid. Using a plastic lid will prevent corrosive reactions.
  5. Put the jar in a warm spot for 4-6 weeks. The longer the better. I was taught a minimum of 20 days for alcohol based tinctures and a minimum of 25 days for other bases. (See note below).
  6. Shake the jar daily.

How To Bottle Your Tincture

Steps for Bottling:

  1. Strain the herbs from the liquid in a large stainless steel strainer lined with cheesecloth or muslin.
  2. Put the liquid (your tincture) in a dark, glass bottle.
  3. Label your bottle with the name of the tincture. Some people like to include the type of extractant and parts of the herb used. Keep out of reach of children.
  4. Store in a cool, dark place.

My mullein tincture
My mullein tincture | Source

Notes

  • Fresh herbs are better than dry herbs in most instances. Some herbs are hard to obtain in a fresh state, so using dried is expected or maybe the only option. Susun Weed writes in her book Therapeutic Herb Manual that some herbs must be used in their dried form or else they are poisonous and some are best extracted as dried herbs.
  • Rosemary Gladstone recommends that if you are using glycerin as your solvent to dilute it with water. The ratio would be 1:1. So if you are using a total of 1/2 cup of liquid, 1/4 cup would be glycerin and 1/4 cup would be water. When we made the catnip glycerin tincture, we did not dilute the glycerin with water. And we simply blended the herbs right in with the glycerin in a vitamix.
  • If vinegar is being used, Rosemary Gladstone states that it should be warmed before adding to the herbs.
  • You will find a hug range for curing your tincture. I have seen as few as 4-5 days. But the average is around a minimum of three weeks. But the longer you let it sit before straining the better, in order to get all the oils and healing properties. Susun Weed suggests bottling four of the same tincture at once, so as soon as one is done, the next one will be cured longer and be better, and so on until you are a year ahead with tinctures.

About the Author

Stephanie Bradberry Crosby is first and foremost an educator and life-long learner. Her present work is as an herbalist, naturopath, and Reiki Master. She spent over a decade as a professor of English, Literature, and Education and high school English teacher. She is a doctoral candidate in Education: Curriculum and Teaching. She runs her own home-based business, Naturally Fit & Well, LLC, which includes her all-natural, handmade, and customizable product line, Natural Herbal Blends. Stephanie loves being a freelance writer and editor on the side.

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Comments 16 comments

hecate-horus profile image

hecate-horus 4 years ago from Rowland Woods

Great hub! I'm big into herbal remedies, so I'm sharing, voting up, etc!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I kind of knew what a tincture was but your information helped a lot. Great job!


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

Hi hecate-horus. Thanks so much. I am slowly learning all the ins and outs. Mattter of fact, I am taking a 3-hour drive one way to attend a course on tinctures and wildcrafting. I wish I had a grandmother or someone that taught me all these things first hand as I was growing up. But at least I will get to be that someone for my kids and my nieces.


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

Hi billybuc. You should have seen my trying to explain my tinctures at the airport. Yes, these babies have traveled. And they almost did not make it from Colorado back to New Jersey with me. The security screener just looked at them and said what is it. I said, "tinctures." His face was priceless as he said, "a what?" He didn't even know how to handle the situation and called for some back-up. But with the wave of some strips over my containers they were allowed to stay with me.


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

I'm starting to learn more about herbal meds and this is a great start for me.


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

Hello jpcmc,

Hopefully we will have a successful quest together! I'm glad you found this helpful. Please stop back often. I will be updating, even starting today, with information I gathered on Sunday from a course in New York.


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

That's great. I have no formal trainings just a love for all things natural. :) Thanks for sharing your knowledge.


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

Hi again jpcmc. I was the same way at first: no formal training. Then people kept asking me questions about how I was getting better on my own. Now they want recipes, advice, etc. from me so they can help themselves and get away from western medicine which has put them in a bad place. I figure if I can help this much with the little bit of knowledge I have, then I will be able to help many more people as I get more and more formal training and experience. I only work with people I know or who are in dire straights right now. But they are really grateful and realize that small changes make a huge difference.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

This was a great tutorial on how to make tinctures. Having quite a few herbs in my yard, I'd like to try it. And you also have me interested in reading more of your hubs. (Voted up and tweeted)


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

Hello Dolores Monet. I am glad you found my hub useful. If you are not using your herbs for tinctures, I hope you at least get around using them for vinegars, honeys, and the like. I'll see you around HP.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Very interesting information. I didn't know the exact procedure for making a tincture. Thanks for sharing, Stephanie.

Voting it up and useful . Sharing it on G+1.


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

I was like you rajan jolly. I knew a little about tinctures because I read about them in different books. But until I actually attended classes, I was not too sure or confident about the procedure. But now I know it is a piece of cake to do. Thanks for sharing!


rasta1 profile image

rasta1 4 years ago from Jamaica

Grew up seeing these in the kitchen. Pretty straight forward instructions.


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 4 years ago from New Jersey Author

Wow, rasta1. You were/are mighty lucky to have grown up with tincture being cured in your home. There are so many things, like canning of fruits and vegetables, that I wish my grandmother or mother did so it could have been passed on to me. But I have to learn how to do it myself or by going to classes. Thanks for commenting.


Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi Stephanie,

A very interesting read on tinctures which I have read about but never made as of yet. Love your website too by the way, very impressive products you have available and services, I wish you all the very best with it. Thanks for a really well written intro into the makings of these herbal remedies. Voted up, useful, interesting!


StephanieBCrosby profile image

StephanieBCrosby 3 years ago from New Jersey Author

Hello and thanks, Suzie HQ.

It is clear why you are an Apprentice with HP. Keep up all the excellent work.

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