Tintures are made with alcohol (most common), alcohol/water mixture (my preference), vinegar, wine, or glycerin (most commonly called glycerites). Anything that you make a tincture with needs to be drinkable. For example don’t use rubbing alcohol in place of grain alcohol, brandy, or vodka. You can use rubbing alcohol, but this would make your tincture a liniment for external use only! Most of my tinctures are made with fresh herbs not long after harvesting. Dried work also but I believe by using the fresh herb in most cases I am getting a stronger product.
If you are wanting to sell your tinctures you will have to prepare your product by FDA rules and regulations, because tincture strength has to be on the label. The way that I make tinctures, the weight to volume ratio (tincture strength) cannot be positively identified, but we use ours as a 50% tincture.
Unlike infusions and decoctions, herbal tinctures remain potent for many years. As with anything herbal though you need to store your tinctures in an air-tight, light-resistant container; that’s why you find most of them in the typical amber dropper bottles. Whatever you store your tincture in always avoid exposure to direct sunlight and excessive heat.
Tinctures are even more concentrated that either infusions or decoctions so the dosage taken will be much smaller. We are now talking droppersfuls here instead of tablespoons and cups. Sometimes with tinctures only a single drop is needed in a whole glass of water, think cayenne.
"Even before I could speak, I remember crawling through blueberry patches in the wild meadows on our hillsides.
I quickly discovered Nature was filled with Spirit; I never saw any separation between Spirit and Nature.
Much later I discovered our culture taught there was supposed to be some kind of separation -
that God, Spirit and Nature were supposed to be divided and different. However, at my early age it
seemed absolutely obvious that the church of the Earth was the greatest church of all; that the temple
of the forest was the supreme temple. When I went to the sanctuary of the mountain, I found Earth's
natural altar - Great Spirit's real shrine. Years later I discovered that this path of going into Nature,
bonding deeply with it, and seeing Spirit within Nature - God, Goddess, and Great Spirit - was
humanity's most ancient, most primordial path of spiritual cultivation and realization."
- John P. Milton, Sky Above, Earth Below
Weight to Volume Method
**Custom Weight to Volume Menstruum
To determine the total volume of menstruum required to make a 1:2 w/v (50% tincture) from 215 gram of fresh herb, multiply 215 by 2 = 430. You will need to prepare a volume of 430ml of menstruum for the weight of 215 gram fresh herb.
Fresh plant material is almost always used, there are a few exceptions, for example those herbs are not commonly available. Don’t wash your herbs, pick through them like greens, if using roots, wash gently. Chop the plants coarsely. Put as much in a quart or half gallon (Gran used half gallon jars to make tinctures. I have never personally made a half gallon of tincture at a time.) jar as you can fit. Fill this jar to the very tip top with either grain alcohol, brandy, or vodka. Screw the lid on tight. Label your jar with the name of the plant, part used, date, and what kind of liquid you used. For example: Dandelion, whole plant, 100% vodka,
Here’s where knowing what the moon is doing comes in handy. We always make tinctures on the new of the moon and while the moon is growing so is our tincture. We decant them on the second full moon after they are started. Not the day of, but a day before or a day after.
Make sure if you decant your tincture to label the new container the same way you did the old one, just add the date you decanted.
This is the way most of us will make tinctures. We use 100 proof vodka, which is 50% alcohol and 50% water.
Alcohol is good for extracting waxes, fats, most alkaloids and resins.
Alcohol tinctures are said to last indefinitely although I replace them after 2-6 years to keep a stronger potency medicine on hand.
Most herbalist recommend using fresh, chopped herbs.Since not all of us have those on hand, you can also use dried herbs. You will need more of the fresh herbs and less of the dried herbs. This is because the chemicals in the dried herbs are more concentrated since the water has been removed. I have also used powdered herbs to make my tinctures. Not all of the herb is strained out, so it can be a bit grainy at the bottom, but we shake it before using. It seems to make my tinctures stronger and I prefer this. "Less is best," according to my children.
I put 1 part dried herb or 2 parts fresh herb to 3 parts grain alcohol in a tight sealing jar. Place in the crockpot on low. Some crockpot's low settings are too high so you may not be able to use yours. A "Keep Warm" setting if you have it is the best choice. Too hot, and you are killing the properties you are trying to extract.
If you do not have a crockpot you can place the herbs in a clear, sealed jar in a warm, sunny spot and accomplish the same thing over 3 weeks. Some people make their "sunshine tinctures" over 5 days. I do not feel that is long enough, especially in colder weather. Some leave them in the sun for up to 12 weeks.(I have done this with some herbs, depending on the moon) When I have tested my medicine, I have seen good effects after 2-3 weeks. Shake each day to mix the herbs in.
You can add Stevia (Sweet Leaf) to help with the taste. The alcohol can be evaporated in a warm cup of tea leaving behind the medicine.
For the people who don't want alcohol in their tinctures or are making them for small children. Glycerin is the way to go.
You need to use food grade U.S.P glycerin, which can be costly. You can find small jars of this in a hobby shop that has stuff for cake decorating. If you have an AC Moore where you live, I know that they carry it.
Glycerins have a shorter shelf life ranging from 12 to 24 months. I remake them yearly to maintain potency. Vegetable glycerin has nearly no impact on blood sugar or insulin and is very low in calories (4.3 per gram). It's sweet taste makes the bitter herbs much more palatable to young children and is a suitable substitute for those concerned with alcohol consumption. It does have medicinal properties in this diluted form as a emollient and demulcent which simply means it is soothing, softening and moisturizing especially to mucous membranes.
Glycerin needs to be thinned with water. I thin it 1:1 with water. The rest of the process is the same as the alcohol based tincture. 1 part dried herb or 2 parts fresh herb to 3 parts glycerin/water mixture in a tight sealing jar.
Place in the crockpot on low. Some crockpot's low settings are too high so you may not be able to use yours. A "Keep Warm" setting if you have it is the best choice. Too hot, and you are killing the properties you are trying to extract.
There is also the vinegar based tincture. Using raw, organic, unfiltered cider vinegar, or just the stuff you get from the grocery store. It all depends on what price you want to pay and how far you are willing to go with the organic stuff. Just be forewarned if your not making your own vinegar the raw stuff can be costly.
I use 3 parts vinegar to 1 part dried herb or 2 parts fresh herb. The rest of the process is the same as the alcohol based tincture.
I am not a doctor. The information on this site is the product of my own, and others, trial and error research. I am by no means an expert. This information is given as a starting point for your own journey into the herbal lunacy that has been a fixture for my entire life. This is not given as a definitive text, truth, or belief on herbal health care because those truths can (and most the time will) change. I ask you to be a co-creator in this journey with me! For any reason if you discover my current truth to be faulty, contact me! I would love to hear from you! And now let our adventure together begin!