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Tincture making instructions?

18 years ago

So I have a few of these nicemedicinals I'd like to make some tinctures from.... from what I read it is (usually) the best way to preserve the constitutants. How do you make a tincture? Any easy step by step instructions?

Do you have to heat the alchohol before you put the herbs in it? Also what is the usual ratio per flower or leaf or root to alchohol?

Do you steep in sunlight or in a dark place?

You usually use vodka right?

Do you mash the herbs before or after putting in vodka?

How long do you usually "steep"?

Is it best to use fresh or dried herbs?

Is it best to strain the herbs after steeping or just leave them in?

Thanks..... oh and p.s. where can you find those brown/glasss tincture or dropper bottles ? Any storefront places? (pharmacy or health food store? or other?) I know you can guy online..... Thanks. :)

Comments (21)

  • 18 years ago

    The following is the 'generic' method of making a tincture. Some herbs may be treated differently. This applies especially to the recommended dosage - some may require only 1-2 drops. You will need to research for details, or check with a qualified herbalist.

    For bottles, ask your chemist, visit antique stores, or check out your local markets for bric-a-brac items and collectibles. Or advertise in your local paper.

    Cover 200g dried or 300g fresh herb with vodka or rum in a bottle, seal the bottle and leave for a about 2 weeks, shaking the bottle every 2 days or so. Put a piece of cloth inside a sieve and pour the liquid through, pressing down to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the solid matter. Pour the tincture into dark bottles, seal and label. A tincture has a much stronger action than an infusion or a decoction. The usual dosage is 5ml 2-3 times a day diluted in 25ml water or fruit juice.

  • 18 years ago

    I just took an herbalism class. This is how simply we made a digestive (bitter) tincture:

    We each choose the fresh herbs we wanted to use from the ones offered. We stuffed them into a small canning jar, we covered the herbs with out choice of either brandy or vodka (make sure its at least 25% alcohol), then we let it sit for 2 weeks, and we shake it once a day. after 2 weeks you strain it, and then just store it in the jar. The alcohol is a preservative, so you are good for a few years. Depending on how sensitive your body is, you may only use a few drops or a teaspoon.

  • 18 years ago

    Well I use dried herbs for my tinctures and usually follow someone's recipe...

    I've made tinctures in large containers by covering the dried herbs in alcohol. They then swell and you have to keep adding alcohol so they are always covered in the alcohol. I store in a dark place and shake the container daily for a few weeks.

    I store my concoctions in the herbs. If I want a dose bottle filled with it, that's when I strain. But the main supply is stored in a dark place with the herbs.

    I get every last bit of constituant I can out of mine.

    Since we don't use conventional medicines, and use natural methods to treat ourselves and we ascribe to preventitive treatments, my tinctures are rarely used and are still around years and years later.

    And odd enough!... the majority of Friends and aquaintances won't use these medicines. They opt for what the doctors prescribe and OTC drugs.

    I wonder why that is??

  • 18 years ago sells the little bottles and droppers, cheap, in a variety os sizes :)

    their customer service is a bit brusque, but competent, which I'll take over sweet and useless any day ;)

    vodka works. rum works. most brandies work (this is what my grandmother used to use, they were the 'bitter' cordials, as opposed to the 'sweet' ones that had flowers or fruit in them. everclear really works.

  • 18 years ago

    Is everclear really safe? I've heard that it is banned and illegal in some states.... is it really safe for internal ingestion?

  • 18 years ago

    here's the thing about making tinctures - not all herbs are the same. Some constituents in plants are only water soluble. Some constituents are only alcohol soluble. Some are water and alcohol soluble. Some need to be tinctured fresh, some need to be tinctured dry. So, the simpler's method of covering herb with alcohol and letting it sit is good for SOME herbs, but not ALL herbs. I recommend 2 books if you want to know more details: Making Plant Medicien by Richo Cech and The Herbal Medicine-Maker's Handbook by James Green. These books cover tinctures, glycerites, infusions, syrups, succus, etc. Really good!

  • 18 years ago

    The things I was thinking of making tinctures out of were:
    angelica root
    echincea root
    comfrey (for use topically ?)
    And.... I'm not sure what else.

  • 18 years ago

    I forgot one thing in "the simplers" method. You have to blend the herbs/alochol in a blender, then let it sit for 2 weeks.

  • 18 years ago

    I would like to second Herbalbetty's suggestions for books. I have used Richo's book for years, and it gives exact recipes to use for different herbs.
    I use Everclear for 99% of my tinctures. It has the highest alcohol content (190 proof, or I believe 100% alcohol) Rum, brandy or vodka can be used, but your alcohol content will be much lower, hence the need for a receipe to go by.
    Everclear is perfectly safe to use, seeing how maximum dosage on medicinal tinctures is usually 2 dropperfulls (about 60 drops), and some tinctures I only use 3 drops.
    For a topical tincture, you can use rubbing alcohol.
    I usually make a gallon of Echinacea tincture each year. I Chop the fresh 3 year old roots before putting in a blender with the alcohol, then store in a dark place.
    So enjoy making medicines, but please use a medicine makers recipe to make it safely. The only thing worse than a tincture that is too weak is one that is too strong.

  • 18 years ago

    The more properties that can be derived from the herb, the better. I don't fear it being too 'strong', unless you mean in terms of alcohol. Dosages given are based on the idea that you have the herb at its strongest and best potency. As for Everclear being that high of a %, it would be too much for most herbs. You add water to the everclear to get it to the % needed. Propolis and some other select herbs like Milk thistle seeds need a much higher percentage of alcohol, so the straight Everclear would be used there, where it wouldn't with, say, Dandelion leaves or flowers. Most people use vodka....but vodka is just water and alcohol already blended. Why pay for water and alcohol? That's the train of thought anyway :) I cant buy it in Florida but it's not illegal to have it shipped in as a gift from another state, need to do that in the future, I just never get around to it LOL

  • 18 years ago

    Actually, if you check the regulations of shipping companies, including the US postal service, you will find that they will not knowingly ship Everclear as it is a flammable liquid.

  • 18 years ago

    i tried and it did not work. another site appeared with a different name. does anyone know a good source for low prices for tincture bottles? thanks, diana

  • 18 years ago

    Hi all herbalist,

    I too am in the process of making my own tinctures, I heard that 80%-100% is the way to go using either the Vodaka or Rum. I can get 80% Vodka and Rum here in Australia but it is very expensive! AUD$48.00 350 ml bottle. the 45% Vodka and Rum is AUD28.00 700ml. I think I will give that a try, as long as my herbs are covered in the vodka, and kept in a dark place and shaken everyday for about two weeks I think I will do ok. It is a much better way than to buy from a shop thats for sure. At least you know what you are putting in your brew.

    Has anyone tried using Vegitable Glycerin to make their tincture? I think it derives from the coconut, but I am not sure. What is the proceedure? I will try and obtain one of those books mentioned thank you for that.

  • 18 years ago

    Lynn I am wondering if you use the entire gallon of echinacea tincture you make each year!! (that's a lot!)

    I also recommend beyond the books in looking locally to see if there's an herbalist who is giving classes...we have an excellent person doing this in my area and that has has been incredibly helpful for me.

    I would guess everyone has their own basic ways...the herbalist I have had classes from insists that the only way to make a tincture that is of a known strength is to measure the ingredients. To use ratios and to chop the herbs first , measuring them before you then measure the alcohol. That way you will always have the same strength of each herb you opposed to the simplers method of stuffing a jar full and then pouring in alcohol... where for fluffier plant parts you will end up with less plant and more alcohol...and a less strong tincture...or for easily stacked plant parts you could well end up with too strong a tincture.

  • 18 years ago

    There is a place that sometimes carries these bottles and other vials, graduates, etc.and is CHEAP.

    You just have to see what they have in stock and buy them when they have them.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Labwarehouse

  • 18 years ago

    Hi, new member chiming in here!
    For topical applications, I would use olive oil, it's much easier on the skin than alcohol, and has it's own nutritive & emollient properties. And you can easily turn the resulting oil into a salve by melting in some beeswax.
    The simplest method I've found for making a tincture or infused oil is to "fill the jar twice", ie: pack loosely with fresh herb to the top, then fill with menstruum (fancy term for whatever base you're using) I agree Everclear is the best, but you need to research your particular herb to find out the dilution rate with water. Generally I use a 50/50 blend.

    Try sks for bottles

  • 15 years ago

    I boughtNew Tincture bottles on ebay very inexpensively they have the brown amber ones, clear and cobalt blue with droppers

  • 14 years ago


    If using Everclear, how much Everclear (in oz) and how much water (in oz) to get the correct ratio for tincturing Devil's Claw?

    Thank you very much, David

    Here is a link that might be useful: the Pledge

  • 14 years ago

    I always use 100proof vodka - it's just easier then figuring out alcohol content of brandy's etc. and most dosage info is based on a 100% proof.

    I never bother shaking anything - I actually set my calendar reminder and forget about it.

    I generally leave mine about three months in a cabinet in the kitchen.

    Always put enough in the jar to keep the swell factor of the herbs covered. As someone mentioned above - it swells in the jar and you don't want exposed herbs to air above the alcohol.

    I don't heat my tinctures - I do slightly heat my oil extracts to get the air and water out before sealing.

  • 13 years ago

    i would like to know the ratio of milk thistle seeds should be used to make a tincture I have grown my own milk thistle and have 1oz and 4oz jars for tincturing I would appreciate any suggestions please email at

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Sorry to hijack this thread but I'm hoping someone can answer a question of how long a tincture CAN brew and still be . I started a few about 5 years ago, using Vodka. We moved cross nd I forgot about them until now!! Some of them were already strained and others were not. Are they ok to use? All seems fine with seals. They were in a tote, kept in darkness. Nothing growing or funky looking in them. Are they just gonna be super potent? Thoughts?

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