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Make Your Own Tinctures

Updated on September 10, 2014

Tinctures are liquid extracts made for healing purposes

Most often tinctures are of herbs or other plant materials.  They can be made in alcoholic or non-alcoholic bases, and if made with alcohol, can last for up to two years with proper storage. It's easy to make your own tinctures and it's a great project for the DIY herbal enthusiast!

Tincture History and Background Information

I live in a house with an organic garden in the backyard. We have a lot of medicinal and herbal plants along with our veggies. We don't use commercial pesticides or fertilizers on anything. Our lawn is a bit shabby and we probably have more weeds than some folks, but you can eat anything after just rinsing off the dirt.

My housemates and I are learning about all sorts of ways to save and use the plants we grow. We've got lavender, rosemary, a few kinds of sages, lemon balm, mugwort, a bay tree and more that we're still puzzling out.

Bottling Your Tinctures - bulk glass bottles

For storage of tinctures, it's best if the liquids are protected from light and kept in a cool place. You don't want the liquids to get warm, but you also don't want them to be in danger of freezing.

Amber and blue glass bottles are the traditional tints you find which block exposure to daylight and help keep the preparations potent longer. Green works too, as does any coloring which is very dark. Gently tinted bottles might look nice, but essentially to protect the tinctures you need to not be able to see them through the glass.

Water-based vs Alcohol-based Tinctures

Tinctures can be made with pure water or with an alcohol base. If you use water, it will not have the preservative characteristics that come with alcohol so your tinctures will not last as long at potency and there is a chance that they could grow mold over time. Some people say that if you just use water, you are making an "essence" and not a tincture.

Most often, brandy or vodka are used as the base fluids for tinctures. There is debate over whether using a cheaper or more expensive liquor is better, so I say go with your budget and preference.

I primarily use 100 proof vodka when making my own tinctures as it is considered a balance of water and alcohol content (50-50) and should allow a full complement of extractables to be absorbed from the plant material.

Plants I'm Working With From My Yard

I'm trying to use plants grown in my own backyard for tinctures, especially since everything in the yard is cared for organically. A lot of herbs and plants re-seed and regrow every year, so I don't have to buy any plant material.

  • Rosemary
  • Dandelion
  • Mugwort
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lavender
  • Echinacea
  • Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Do You Make Tinctures? - share your experiences, favorite plants and recipes

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    • schwarz profile imageAUTHOR

      Rae Schwarz 

      4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      That's true. Supposedly Swedish bitters was first formulated by Paracelsus.

    • schwarz profile imageAUTHOR

      Rae Schwarz 

      4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @csimion70: Those are more like a cousin of a tincture, but it is a very old and classic herbal formula.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Herbal tinctures are very useful.

      One of the most famous herbal tinctures is "Swedish bitters"


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