Ever heard of something called a tincture before? It’s basically an alcohol extract of a plant. It usually has an alcohol/ethanol percentage of at least 25%. Most common tinctures are herbal extracts.
You can find tinctures at your local health food store, or you can make them yourself. This is actually a good skill to learn, because it’s extremely simple and you can easily preserve herbs for natural remedies and medicinal purposes.
How are tinctures made?
Tinctures are made by soaking plants in alcohol, and allowing time for the alcohol to extract essential components from the plants. Alcohol that is 80 proof (40% alcohol) is necessary to make a tincture. Remember when I made vanilla extract? That’s basically making a tincture.
Some people also use apple cider vinegar to make tinctures.
What are tinctures used for?
Tinctures are usually used for medicinal purposes and natural remedies for various ailments. Standard dosages for tinctures are usually 1 tsp, 1-3 times per day. These are taken internally, and oftentimes the tincture is mixed with tea, juice, or water. Tinctures are also used by rubbing on the skin as a liniment.
Why are tinctures important?
Many plants and herbs have a short shelf life, and even if dried can lose some of their nutritional components. Making tinctures allows them to be preserved for a longer period of time, and the tinctures themselves become extremely powerful in comparison to just simple teas or fresh herbs.
Do you have to use alcohol to make tinctures?
No, you can also use apple cider vinegar to make tinctures, which makes this especially good for little ones. The standard time to let an apple cider vinegar sit and “stew” is 3 weeks as opposed to only 2 weeks if using alcohol. Apple Cider Vinegar has amazing health properties in and of itself, so it makes for a powerful tincture when combined with certain herbs and plants.
Here’s How to Make an Herbal Tincture
- Purchase your quality alcohol. Most people purchase 80 proof Vodka or Rum. And if you really want to ensure that your alcohol is free of things like pesticides, GMOs, and other additives then go with a USDA certified organic alcohol.
- Use either a glass or ceramic container to make your tincture in. You’ll want your container to be dark to keep out light. But if it isn’t dark, you can store your container in a dark area. Don’t use anything other than these, as the tinctures could have a bad reaction with things like plastics, metals, and styrofoam.
- Gather your ingredients. At this point you need to decide if you’re going to use fresh or dried herbs. Depending on which you choose, your measurements will be different. If you are using fresh herbs, fill your container completely with them and then cover with alcohol. If you are using dried herbs, fill the container approximately 1/3 of the way with dried herbs and then fill with alcohol.
- Combine ingredients together in your container.
- Stir using a metal spoon to make sure that there are no air bubbles and everything is mixed well.
- Close your container, label it (date and name of tincture), and then store it in a cool dark place.
- Gently shake your container 1-2 time per day for at least two weeks. At this point you can move forward with the straining, or you can let it continue to process for up to six months. The longer it sits, the more potent the tincture will be.
- When you are ready, strain out the herbs/plants with a cheesecloth and poor the leftover liquid into a dark glass container.
- Store your tincture in a cool, dry, and dark place. It can be used for two years or more (that alcohol does an amazing job of preserving). If you used apple cider vinegar to make your tincture, it will only last for 6-12 months and should be kept refrigerated.
Homemade Chamomile Tincture Recipe
This tincture is great for calming and relaxation, as well as for upset stomachs, headaches, and mild menstrual cramps. I keep it on hand, because it’s just a great “go-to” tincture.
- Dried chamomile flowers
- 80 proof vodka or rum
Directions: Just follow the directions above and you have your tincture!
How to use a chamomile tincture:
Take 1 teaspoon, 3 times per day as needed. You can combine it with your juice, tea, or water. If you do plan to give this to children, it is recommended to go with the apple cider vinegar instead of the alcohol. For infants small drops can be placed on hurting gums, or can be rubbed on the tummy to help with colic and calming down the child. For children, 1/2 tsp up to 3 times per day as needed is recommended.
I either grow my own herbs or purchase them in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Have you ever made your own tinctures? These are great to give as gifts for the holidays, birthdays, or baby showers. And as an added bonus, they are extremely inexpensive to make vs. buying from the local health food store!
Have you used or made tinctures? Let me know your favorites! And if you try this recipe, please let me know how it goes!