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Do It Yourself Tinctures

Tinctures are preserved herbal medicinal mixtures that can last for three to five years. More specifically, tinctures are an extract with an alcohol base, which works as a better solvent than water for some plant constituents. The concentration of the tincture depends upon the potency of the herb. Very potent or toxic herbs require a lower concentration than other herbs. When starting out at home, it is best to use only safe, non-toxic herbs such as dandelion, burdock, garlic, red clover, yellow dock, or mullein.

The ratio of herb to fluid used is 1:1 for fresh plant and 1:5 for dried plant. This is plant weight to liquid volume. Measure the required amount of your chosen herb into a screw top jar and cover it with a spirit, such as vodka. Keep tightly covered in a warm place while infusing, and shake the bottle well twice a day. You can strain the tincture in 14-28 days, through a muslin cloth, squeezing well. I like to let the tincture soak for a full lunation cycle. Store in a cool place in a dark bottle, to prevent UV ray damage.

Here’s a recipe. Take eight (8) ounces (1/2 pound) of dried Echinacea and put in a one (1) quart jar. Fill jar with a forty percent (40%) alcohol level spirit to top and seal. Label jar with herb, date, alcohol content and moon sign (optional). Don’t forget to label, as an unknown tincture is wasted medicine. Recipe measurements are based on a general formula using pure grain alcohol such as everclear. Adjust the recipe according to the alcohol content of the spirit you use. For instance, if you’re using 40% vodka, and want an alcohol content of 40%, no water will be needed, and thus the last two lines of the equation can be omitted.


Alcohol content:      

A. ______%

Water content :
B. ______%

Weight of plant used:
C. ______grams

Fresh plant water:
B. ____x C.____ = D. _____ml

(omit if using dry plant material.)
Equivalent dry weight:
C. ____- D. ____= E. _____gm

Total liquid volume in tincture: 5 x E. ____= F._____ml

(Use 1x E. ____=F.___ ml, if using fresh plant material)
Total alcohol to be added: F.____x A. ____=G._____ml
Distilled water to be added:
F. _____ - G. _____ -D._____ =H. ______ml

This formula maybe a little confusing if you’re not used to using the metric system. Although metric conversions are not hard to find, only use this scientific method if you’re up to the challenge. If this doesn’t work for you, there is the traditional folk method, which just blows all the numbers away and leaves you to your own intuitive devices. This is especially useful when using fresh plant materials that are bulky but light weight. In those instances, the formula sometimes doesn’t work out and the alcohol won’t even cover the herb completely. I personally use a combination of both depending on what I’m tincturing.

Tinctures can be taken undiluted or with water or juice to mask the flavor a little. If a person does not wish to have the alcohol, she can place drops of tincture in boiled water or tea. This removes the alcohol without harming the herbal constituents. You can also try to use apple cider vinegar as a base, but it must be apple cider vinegar because the malic acid is digestible, whereas the acids in other vinegars are not digestible. Vinegar also helps drain the lymph nodes, and is beneficial both for arthritis and asthma, as well as seasonal tonics.

Best of Health to you.

Hey y’all! Slingshot is going to make this DIY column a regular feature! Please send us clear descriptions of any do-it-yourself project that’s fun and/or useful.