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The Art of Tincture Making

You may very well have heard the term “tincture” before had no idea what it meant, but been too embarrassed to ask. Or, you may know what a tincture is technically, but maybe have never been quite brave enough to venture out and make your own. Here you will learn all you need to know about what a tincture is and how to make your own in just a few simple steps.

What is a Tincture?

Let’s start with the basics and identify what exactly a tincture is. A tincture is simply a certain form of herbal preparation that extends the shelf-life and benefits of the herb(s). For something to qualify as a tincture, it includes a solvent that is more than just water, such as alcohol or vinegar.

What You Will Need

Making a tincture is a fairly simple process, and the materials needed are equally simple. When going to the store for your home-made tincture recipes, be sure to pick up some:

  • Wide-mouthed canning jars with lids
  • Herbs, fresh or dry
  • 80-proof vodka or brandy (if you prefer not to use alcohol, apple cider vinegar is a good substitute)
  • Cheesecloth or muslin
  • Rubber bands
  • A small funnel
  • One-ounce tincture bottles

Choosing Your Herbs

Before you just guess which herbs you might want, think about what purpose you will want this tincture for. For example, if you want your own tincture that will help you fall asleep, do some research on which herbs are best for inducing sleep. When doing this research, take note of any precautions or contraindications for the herbs that you have in mind. Good herbs that are easy to find and always useful as a tincture include:

  • Chamomile
  • Dandelion
  • Echinacea root
  • Burdock
  • Hawthorn
  • Lavender
  • St. John’s Wort

When you choose your herb(s), do some more research on how the herb should be processed. For example, some herbs should be processed in cold water to get the full benefits. Most herbs that you opt for are available at your local health foods store. If you order them online, make sure it is from a quality site and that the herbs are of high quality. You can even get some herbs from your farmer’s market or use what you have in your own herb garden; just make sure you clean them well before using them.

Making the Tincture

First, separate the herbs from the stalks and discard the stalks. For fresh herbs, chop them up; for dried herbs grind them down. Place your herbs into your wide-mouthed jar and pour your vodka or brandy over them until completely submerged. Seal the jar tightly and place in a dark cupboard for 4-6 weeks; make sure your herbs stay completely covered by the alcohol (dried herbs especially may start to absorb more), adding more if needed, and give the jar a nice shake every couple of days.

Once your alcohol-covered herbs have macerated for 4-6 weeks, remove the lid and replace with cheesecloth and a rubber band. Strain the mixture through the cheesecloth then wring it out to make sure as much liquid is obtained as possible. Let this solution sit (covered) overnight, then strain one more time the next day. Use your handy funnel to pour your solution into the 1-ounce bottle(s).

Now What?

A tincture made with high-proof alcohol will stay good for a few years, as long as you store it in a dark, cool place. For whichever herb you choose, the usual dosage is 30-60 drops in a glass of water, taken every day (or as needed). Most tinctures can also be taken by applying a drop directly under the tongue, thus allowing for fast absorption of the herb.

As you can see, tinctures are easy to make. Once you invest in the initial materials, you can be making your own tinctures quickly and easily. Begin with some made from herbs that you know you will use often or are just good to have on hand, such as those that address muscle pain, stomach aches, sleeplessness, and fever. Since tinctures do last so long, it’s a good idea to make ahead of time a sample so that you can easily reach into your all-natural medicine cabinet when an ailment arises.

Now that you know how to make your very own, start experimenting! There are so many herbs out there with so many uses that it is nearly impossible to have too many of your own tinctures.

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