I’ve been successfully making our own herbal tinctures for a couple of years now, and they have become a regular in our natural medicine cabinet.
What is an herbal tincture?
Through a simple process, you extract the medicinal properties from the herbs making them a super concentrated herbal extract. Basically, an herbal tincture is a whole lot of herbs put into your liquid of choice and then extracted out.
Because of the concentrated form, herbal tinctures are very effective, and they last a long time!
How to Make an Herbal Tincture
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Choose your base liquid:
Let’s talk technicalities for a second …
There are two main methods for extracting the medicinal properties from your herbs to make a tincture. One is with alcohol like vodka. The other is a mixture of hot water and vegetable glycerin.
Technically, an herbal tincture is made with alcohol. If you use vegetable glycerin and water, then you have an herbal extract.
Some say that the herbal tincture will be more effective. Others say that a mix of herbal tincture and extract is the best.
I say that the herbal concentrated concoction your family will actually take is the most effective, best way to consume your herbs, and I wouldn’t worry about the semantics.
What my family uses
I have found that my family is more likely to take an herbal extract made with vegetable glycerin and water. It has a sweeter taste and is smooth going down.
If I make a tried and true herbal tincture with an alcohol base, then we have to make a hot tea to add the tincture to in order to dilute the vodka. This is an extra step that I simply don’t prefer to take, and it’s hard for little ones to drink a cup of tea.
If you’re interested in making your tincture with water and vegetable glycerin, then read on because that’s what I’m going to teach you today!
You will need food grade vegetable glycerin, as well as my herbs. I’ve found buying in bulk (glycerin and herbs) is much cheaper. I really like buying in bulk on Amazon, or I will get my herbs in bulk from my local health store.
I also grow some of my own herbs in my back yard garden. This will help cut the costs even more of making my own herbal tinctures!
Choose your herbs:
Depending on what kind of tincture you want to make, depends on what kind of herbs you choose. I have made several types of tinctures over the years.
We’ve made tinctures that:
- aid sleep
- promote healthy pregnancy
- clean the liver
- boost the immune system
- boost milk supply
- act as a cough syrup
- and more!
Depending on what you’re wanting to accomplish will depend on what herbs you choose to extract!
Steps for Making an Herbal Tincture
Decide on which herbs you would like to use in your tincture; mix all your herbs in a large bowl.
Scoop your dried herbs into glass jars. Fill your jars 2/3 of the way full, but don’t pack the herbs down. You need to leave room for your liquid.
I used pint size jars because they fit inside my crockpot. But you can also use quart size jars.
Use as many jars as you need to get all your herbs ready for extraction.
Fill your jars with 40% hot water. Then, fill it up the rest of the way with vegetable glycerin.
Make sure you leave 1-2 inches of room at the top. This will give your herbs room to expand as you “cook” them.
Screw your lids onto your jars tightly. You don’t want anything getting in or out!
Place a towel in the bottom of your crockpot. This will help keep your jars from cracking as they heat up.
Line your crockpot with your jars (as many as will fit). Then add water to the bottom rim of the jar. You don’t want the water to actually touch the lid, and you definitely don’t want your jars covered. Fill the crockpot with water just to the bottom rim of your lid.
Put the lid on your crockpot and set your crockpot to low. If you’re using quart size jars, or your lid doesn’t fit snug, then just place a big towel over the top to make your crockpot snug and keep the heat in.
Then, you wait … and wait … and wait. For three whole days you wait for your herbal tincture to complete.
Check on your tinctures two to three times a day though. Don’t forget about them completely. They do need a little bit of babysitting.
You want to be sure the water isn’t boiling. If you have a crockpot that runs hot, skewing the lid will help deter the water from boiling. Additionally, you want to be sure your crockpot doesn’t run low on water. Just add water as needed to keep the water level at the lid of your jar.
After you’ve waited patiently for three days, turn your crockpot off and let the tincture cool a bit before removing from the pot. Or if you’re like me, grab some towels and transfer them a counter lined with more towels. I’m impatient …
Open your jars and let them cool on the counter for a bit (for real this time…).
Your liquid has now absorbed into your herbs, and you need to get the liquid strained out into a clean jar.
To do this, you need some clean jars for transferring as well as a clean cloth of some sort.
Personally, I use my husband’s old t-shirts. I just cut them up into towel size portions and use them almost exclusively for straining my herbs.
Some people will strain into a large bowl (like in the picture). That’s just an extra step for me. I (usually) strain my herbs directly into the jar I will be storing them in. I just add a funnel to the top of the jar to make it easier and avoid any spillage.
So pour your herbs into your cloth, gather the ends, and start squeezing. This is when it’s important that you actually let your tincture cool!
Squeeze and squeeze and squeeze. Move your herbs around and squeeze some more. Twist the cloth and squeeze some more. You want to work your herbs until you’ve extracted as much of the liquid as possible.
Label your jars carefully. I use white tape because it’s nice and wide. I list all the ingredients, as well as the date on the storage jars. Then I use a small sliver of tape to label the actual tincture bottles.
How to use your tincture
This depends on what sort of tincture you made.
Play with how many droppers of a tincture you take and how often. Start small and work your way up. Pay attention to your body and see if you feel any differences.
If you’re not getting the results you need or want, then you may need to change your formula. I’m always tweaking my tinctures and trying new things. Just keep a good log of what you’re doing so you’ll be able to replicate your magic formulas!
I’ve found my glycerin tinctures to be very easy to take because they taste sweet instead of burning like vodka based tinctures do. I don’t have to dilute or add an extra step to be able to take my tincture. I just run to my natural medicine cabinet and take a few droppers every now and then.
Herbs are such a wonderful way God has given us to nourish our bodies. Tinctures are not the only way to benefit from herbs, but they are definitely one of my favorites.
How about you? Do you use herbal tinctures?
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