Creating Tinctures & Elixirs
by Irene Lewis
The folk method:
This is the easiest method of creating a tincture. No measuring is involved. Place chopped herbs into a mason jar until it is about 3/4th s full. Cover the herbs with brandy or vodka making sure the herbs have about an inch of alcohol above them. Let the jar sit (macerating the herbs) for 2-6 weeks. Shake the jar each day. Strain. Pour into an amber bottle and seal.
Alcohol based tinctures:
Alcohol is often the menstrum of choice for tincturing herbs. Vinegar can also be used for many herbs and below you will find a method using vegetable glycerine.
40%- 50% alcohol is fine for most herbs used in preparations of alcohol based tinctures. This means that vodka or brandy can be used. Grain alcohol is utilized in many of the commercial formulations it is 95% alcohol and needs to be diluted. Since I prefer the taste of brandy and vodka they are what I generally use. The bottles will announce the alcohol content on the label. If it is 100 proof then it is 50% alcohol the rest of the liquid in the bottle is water. Of all the menstruum choices alcohol has the longest shelf life. Tinctures kept properly can last many years.
Grinding plants will break down the cell walls making it easier for their precious qualities to release into your mensruum (alcohol).
Weight to volumne ratio method:
1:2 ratio is used for fresh herbs
1:4 or 1:5 is used for dry plants.
The herbs are represented by the 1st number. The Menstruum (alcohol) is represented by the 2nd number.
So, what that means is the weight of the herbs is multiplied by the second number to get the volume of alcohol needed to create the tincture.
For example Fresh plant 1 part herb to 2 parts menstruum
Ie: 3 ounces of herbs multiplied by 2 = 6 ounces of menstruum needed to cover the herb
Dry plant 1 part herb to 5 parts menstruum
Ie: 3 ounces of herb multiplied by 5 = 15 ounces of menstruum needed to cover the herbs
As with the folk method cover the herbs with the menstruum and let the mixture sit for 2-6 weeks. Shake it daily
Vinegar Acetates< Acetic Acid, alkaloids (ine) Glycerites Vegetable glycerine is a liquid that is obtained from vegetable fat or fixed oils as a by product of making soap. It isa clear colorless liquid that is sweet but not a sugar. Its main advantage is that it is tolerated by some better than alcohol. It can also be used for children. For some herbs however it is best to use alcohol. The shelf life of the tincture will be 1-3 years.
You need to dilute the glycerine with water before use. The ratio is about 50/50. It using fresh plants keep in mind the plants still contain water so it is likely that you will need more like 65% glycerine to 35% water.
To Prepare the tincture: You can choose to make tinctures either the folk method above or the weight to volumne method. Simply substitute the alcohol for the glycerine water mixture.
For a quick method try a glycerite decoction. Use the 1:5 ratio. Make up your menstruum of 50% glycerine and 50% water . Pour this into a pot over your herbs. Add 50% more water to the pot. Decoct this on a low heat for 3-4 hours until the extra