Tinctures, What are they, how to make and use them.

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A tincture is an extract made from fresh or dried herbs steeped in food grade alcohol (Vodka or Brandy), glycerin or vinegar for several weeks, and then straining it. Also called extracts (the same way vanilla extract is made).

Alcohol tinctures are the most common and the easiest to make. Alcohol is most often used because of how strong it is. Some herbs require something this strong to release their medicinal properties, where glycerin or vinegar are not strong enough. The alcohol also acts as preservative giving tinctures an unlimited shelf life if stored away from heat and light.

Vegetable glycerin tinctures are alcohol free and are a bit less potent then some of the alcohol based tinctures (depending on the herb used some may be the same strength as the alcohol based) They do have a little sweeter taste than the alcohol-based and are a good choice for children since they are not as bitter tasting.

The advantages of tinctures are that they are concentrated, easy to take, rapidly absorbed, easy on the stomach, and they have a very long shelf life, unlike dried herbs. And they take up a lot less space than dried herbs, and are easier to use and more convenient, no boiling teas or making capsules. And they have a very long shelf life. You can make your own or you can buy them from a health food store. It can be very expensive to buy them. They are very easy to make yourself and a lot cheaper especially when you use herbs you have grown yourself. If you have a problem with the alcohol or you don’t want to give it to children you can make them with glycerin or with pure cider vinegar which is also good if you will be using it for daily long-term use. The only ones I have made are with alcohol.

Tinctures are easy to make here are the things you will need.

80 to 100 proof vodka or brandy. A pint-sized (or larger) glass jar. I like to use quart jars for tinctures that I am going to be using a lot. Herbs of choice. Cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer, I like to get Knee highs that are in the little balls for 33 cents then I will cut each in half and I have 4 (just tie a knot in the cut end). Way cheaper than cheesecloth and it is fine enough that it catches all the small stuff. Dark Bottles, If you don’t have dark bottles pour off into smaller jars and be sure to store in a cool dark place. Labels, be sure to label each one with what it is and the date.

Fill the jar about 2/3 to ¾ full of fresh herbs when using dried use about half that. Then fill your jar with vodka or brandy. Make sure all the herbs are covered with alcohol Cover and label then store in a cool dark place for at least four to six weeks I like to let mine sit at least 6 weeks. Shake them up every few days for the first few weeks. It doesn’t hurt for them to sit longer I have a couple that have been sitting for a couple years. Just strain and put into dark glass bottles (be sure to label what it is and the date) when ready to use. You can also mix herbs to make a blend. If you want to make sure you have a higher concentration or if using older herbs repeat the process just strain off the alcohol then pour back over another jar of herbs.

When done steeping, strain the herbs out, use a fine mesh strainer or as I mentioned above knee highs. Then pour the liquid into dark glass jars with droppers. If you don’t have jars with droppers pour into small jars and store out of the heat and light.

The standard dosage is 1 to 2 drops per 5 pounds of body weight placed in a cup of water or juice. You might want to measure that out into a measuring spoon so it is easier to use when you are using it all the time. One dropper full hold about 25 drops the glass dropper will be about 1 inch full.

For best results be consistent, the frequency of use will depend on the illness for acute illness such as colds take smaller doses more frequently sometimes as often as ten times a day. For daily use or long-term illness take the standard dose 2 to 4 times a day for as long as needed. As with any medications, use common sense when using them, if you are allergic to something in the tincture do not use.

For autoimmune disorders, it is recommended to double your doses for the first week of treatment.

Tinctures can be taken with or without food because in tincture form it is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream.

How to Remove the Alcohol in a Tincture

Herbal tinctures are herb extracts suspended in an alcohol base. If you have concerns about alcohol consumption, please follow these instructions: Before each dose:

1. Boil some water

2. Measure tincture dose into a glass

3. Pour ¼ cup of boiling water into a glass with tincture.

4. Allow tincture and water mixture to cool, and take dosage as usual. It will have no more alcohol than a ripe banana.

And as with any herbs if pregnant always consult your doctor. The information contained in this page is for educational purposes only, and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice diag­no­sis or treatment.


9 Replies to “Tinctures, What are they, how to make and use them.”

  1. Alicia Owen

    I can’t wait to try making my own this year. I love tinctures and have been using one to help with my seasonal affective disorder for 2 years now. 🙂 Thanks for sharing on how to make them!

    1. Kate

      Alicia ,

      May I ask what you put in your tinctures to help with SAD? I also have seasonal affective disorder. Thank you so much.

    1. watkinsranches@yahoo.com Post author

      There a several that I like, I try real hard to use what grows locally. May try to do a post on what herbs I use.
      Have a great day,

  2. Jann Olson

    This is so interesting! I have never heard the term tinctures before. Thanks for sharing this information with SYC.

  3. NRP

    Ranchers Wife;

    A couple of questions if you don’t mind.

    1. Why could one not make the concoctions for Flavoring and Cooking? My thinking is I use a lot of my homegrown herbs in the Kitchen, and am always breaking into my ‘stash’ of vacuumed packed herbs, BUT if I would make a bunch of tincture, let’s say Parsley Sage Rosemary & Thyme (yes ex-hippy here hehehe) that would save the dried Deep Pantry stuff for when really needed or wanted. Also that would cut back on the Dehydrating time spent on Herbs and used on other “stuff”.

    2. Making cooking tinctures would also save a LOT of room (if space is a problem), storing a pint of tincture would take a LOT less space that the equivalent of Dried Herbs.

    3. Have you had problems with the tinctures fermenting or molding if only using glycerin, aka sugar water?

    Lastly I would not recommend using Mason Jars for long term storage if using Alcohol. The 80-100 proof will absorb an off flavor from the Plastic and Rubber in the lids. Short time such as you indicated 4-6 weeks should be absolutely no problem, but much longer than 2 months, I would use caution. One would hate to lose a pint of good Herbs to an off flavor and who needs that Plastic/Rubber in our systems anyways?

  4. watkinsranches@yahoo.com Post author

    Never mind questions, just hope I can answer.

    Tinctures and extracts are basically the same things, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work Something for me to try haha. On my project list now.

    I haven’t really used glycerin but from what I have read, it does have a shorter shelf-life of 3 to 5 years, and you have to be very careful to not contaminate it so it won’t mold.

    I haven’t really had any problems using mason jars I just make sure there is a least an inch or more of headspace and the rubber is on top of the glass so there isn’t much being exposed to the tinctures. I do have some that are over a year or so old and haven’t had any problems with them. After I strain them I do put them in glass bottles.

    Hope this helps

  5. Carol L

    Just be careful when using fresh herbs for tinctures. It isn’t recommended as the fresh bring water into the equation which can cause the tincture to mold. Dried herbs are usually recommended, but if you have fresh herbs or flowers, dry them first to remove the water content. Even alcohol won’t protect from mold! Check out any herbalist for more information regarding fresh and dried material for tinctures and extracts.