How to Make an Herbal Tincture at Home
What is a Tincture?
A tincture is a concentrated herbal extract that uses alcohol as the solvent. Tinctures can be made with fresh or dried flowers, leaves, roots, barks, or berries. We like taking tinctures because they are a concentrated form of the herb and they are very easy to use and take every day, even on the go. If you have major liver issues or are uncomfortable taking alcohol, you can always mix your tincture with water or tea, bring it to a boil for a few minutes to let the alcohol burn off.
There are a few ways to make herbal tinctures, but unless you have expensive processing equipment at home, we've found that this guide from Mountain Rose Herbs is the easiest and best for beginners.
Step One - Get Your Supplies
*Optional - blender
Step Two - Get The Right Alcohol
Alcohol is the solvent. You can use any spirit you like, but most people use something neutral like vodka. This way the taste of the herb comes through more.
40% - 50% (80-90 proof vodka) is what we use for most fresh and dried herbal tinctures.
67.5% - 70% (½ 80 proof vodka + ½ 190 proof grain alcohol) helps extract fresh high-moisture herbs like lemon balm, berries, and aromatic roots.
Step Three - Prepare the Herbs
The measurement is based on the size of your jar so use this and the guide below to determine how much of each herb to use.
Fill the jar 2/3 to 3/4 with herb
Fill the jar 1/2 to 3/4 with herb
Fill the jar 1/3 to 1/2 with fresh roots, barks, or berries
Fill the jar 1/4 to 1/3 with dried roots, barks, or berries
Step Four - Make A Tincture
If you are using fresh herbs, then grind or chop them to release the juice and expose the surface.
Place the herbs in the jar and fill the jar to the top with alcohol to cover the herbs completely. With fresh herbs, the jar should look full of herbs, but when you shake it, you'll see the herbs move freely. Note that dried roots and berries will double in size when they are soaked in liquid!
Store your tincture in a cool, dry, dark cabinet. Shake the jar several times a week and check your alcohol levels. If the alcohol has evaporated a bit and the herb is not completely submerged, be sure to top off the jar with more alcohol. Don't open your jar unless you need to add more alcohol because the air can introduce mold and bacteria into your tincture. Allow the mixture to extract for 6-8 weeks.
Option One: Drape a damp cheesecloth over a funnel. Pour contents of tincture into an amber glass bottle. Allow to drip, then squeeze and twist until you get all the liquid out. Option Two: Blend the herb mixture and then strain the remaining liquid.
We recommend labeling all of your tinctures, so you don't get confused, and so you know how to improve for your next batch. We like to include the name, amount used, fresh/dried, alcohol %, habitat/source, date, and dosage.
Keep extracts in a cool, dark place, and your tinctures will last for many years. You can take your tincture straight by the dropper or diluted in tea.
If you need help choosing which herbs to start using check out these two reference books: