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Whats a Tincture

A tincture sometimes called fluid extract is typically an alcoholic extract of plants for use as medicine. The alcohol acts as a solvent, extracting primarily the medicinal components such as alkaloids, glycosides, minerals, and essential oils. Other solvents can be used in place of alcohol, such as vinegar or glycerin, though they are typically less effective at extracting medicinal constituents of plants.

Most alcohols consist of a percentage of pure alcohol (ethanol) while the rest is water. The alcohol extracts substances that water cannot extract and vice-versa. Therefore, it is often important to know what percentages of alcohol/water is necessary for the particular plant and medicinal properties you wish to extract.

A few important notes in making any tincture:

Make sure that you only use plants that are non-toxic and safe for human use.

If you do not know the plants you are working with, research them thoroughly before hand.

Use only alcohol made for human consumption as your tincture base. Clear vodkas are one of the easiest forms to use for tincture base. Ideally, acquire a grain alcohol that is 95% alcohol (190 proof) and dilute it as necessary.

Make sure that the alcohol covers the plant material fully. Do not leave any plant material exposed to the air.

Tinctures are meant to be used as medicine in small amounts. Once made, put them into small dropper bottles and add a little bit to your tea, juice, water or directly into your mouth when needed.

For most tincture recipes, you will want to let your tincture sit for about two weeks. Then you will need to strain it and pour it into your preferred containers.

Tincture making

Tincture Making Supplies

There aren’t too many supplies needed to make a tincture.

Wide-mouthed canning jars and tight-fitting lids

Dry or fresh herbs. We recommend purchasing quality herbs.

Vodka or brandy with a high proof (60 proof for dry herbs; 80 proof for fresh herbs).

Cheesecloth or muslin

Rubber band


Tincture bottles. 

Patience. Making tinctures takes time!

How to Make a Tincture

1. Remove the fresh or dried herbs off of the stalks. If using freshly dug roots, wash and scrub them of dirt.

2. Chop fresh herbs and grind dried herbs to increase the surface area for the maceration. Place herbs into a clean, dry jar with a wide mouth.

3. Pour high proof alcohol (vodka or brandy) over the herbs until they are completely covered. Dry herbs may absorb the liquid, so check and add alcohol as needed.

N.B...A factor to consider when choosing herbs is solubility. Alcohol can extract properties like alkaloids, sugars, enzymes, essential oils, minerals, and vitamins but precipitates the healing mucilage you may be trying to extract in herbs like marshmallow root (cold water infusion is the preferred method for marshmallow root).

4. Cover tightly with a lid and place the jar in a dark cupboard and allow to soak or macerate for 4-6 weeks.

5. During this time period, give the jar a shake every 2-3 days. Keep an eye on the alcohol level to ensure all your herbs are still covered.

6. Once macerating is complete, layer cheesecloth a few times over top of a clean bowl and secure with rubber band if possible.

7. Strain the mixture through the cheesecloth and with clean hands, gather the cloth up and squeeze strongly so every bit of possible liquid is drained from the herbs.

8. Allow material to settle overnight and strain again, or decant, through a smaller filter such as filter paper or a thin wire screen.

9. Use a funnel to transfer into labeled, amber bottles and store out of the light.

Tincture Recipes: Burdock Root

Burdock (Arctium spp.) is known as both an edible root and a useful medicine that assists liver function, digestion, and skin health. It is high in iron and a vast array of other minerals.

Burdock tincture is typically made from either the fresh or dried roots. Here is what you need to do:

Clean and cut up several fresh roots.

Put them in a clean container (preferably glass)

Use a vodka that has 50% alcohol content (also known as 100 proof)

Add the alcohol at a 2:1 ratio (i.e. 2 cups of vodka to 1 cup of fresh roots)

If you are using dried roots, use a 5 to 1 ratio instead (i.e. 5 cups of vodka to 1 cup of dried roots)

Tincture Recipes: Dandelion Tincture

Like burdock, dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) is both an edible and medicinal plant. Dandelion is rich in protein, potassium, inulin, iron and trace minerals.

You can use the fresh or dried leaves and roots.

Clean and cut up several fresh roots and/or leaves

Put them in a clean container

Use a vodka that has 45% alcohol content (also known as 90 proof)

Add the alcohol at a 2:1 ratio (i.e. 2 cups of vodka to 1 cup of fresh leaves/roots)

If you are using dried leaves/roots, use a 5 to 1 ratio instead (i.e. 5 cups of vodka to 1 cup of dried leaves/roots)

Tincture bottles

Tincture Recipes: Stinging Nettle

Although stinging nettle is known to many mainly for its itchy stings, it is an amazing medicinal and edible plant. Nettles are rich in iron, potassium, calcium, manganese, and trace minerals.

Cut fresh or shred dried plants

Put them in a clean container

Use a vodka that has 50% alcohol content (also known as 100 proof)

Add the alcohol at a 2:1 ratio (i.e. 2 cups of vodka to 1 cup of plant materials)

There is a wide variety of tincture recipes out there. Just about any medicinal plant can be made into a tincture. Whether to maintain or boost health, tinctures are a simple and accessible way to get started making your own at home medicines.