Preparing Tinctures: A simple method

by Jade Shutes

The Basics of Making Tinctures

Every year we make up a batch or two of the herbs which grow around us and herbs we have planted in the garden.  Last year we made tinctures of Melissa, Boneset, German chamomile, Passion flower, Thyme and Calendula.  This picture was taken last year when we completed our tincture making. We have used most of them up throughout the year and are now preparing some new tinctures.

I love the calendula tincture for a variety of product making from scrubs to wound sprayers.  We used Boneset and Thyme during the winter months for flu and to support the immune system.  And I love passion flower, melissa, motherwort and German chamomile for a whole array of emotional and physical experiences/conditions that arise in my life.

This is my second year with motherwort.  She loves to expand and is quite happy if she even has a little bit of soil from which to grow forth. She is soft yet has an edge here or there, she can be sharp and quick. I have a wonderful ally in motherwort. She soothes my spirit, my heart,  and calms my mood swings during menstrual cycle.


Tincture making: Folk Method

Making tinctures is fun, easy, and empowering. Tinctures can be used internally and externally, depending on the plant and purpose of application.  When making tinctures you can use fresh or dried herb.  Here is a simple folk method for making a herbal tincture.

With Fresh Herbs:

  • Gather plant material after morning dew has dried.
  • You can either finely chop the herb or place the herb in a vitamix to release its juice.
  • Fill your jar with plant material – gently pressing down but not too much as you want the alcohol to be able to move around the plant material.
  • Pour vodka, brandy or everclear over the herbs. Be sure to cover completely.
  • Cover the jar with a lid and shake. The herb should be able to freely move with the alcohol.
  • Label jar with plant name, where you harvested it, alcohol used, and date.
  • Store jar in a cool place for at least one month.
  • To decant: place cheesecloth in a potato presser or herbal press and press out the liquid. Compost the plant material (marc) after pressing.
  • Let tincture sit over night and then you can either carefully pour into another clean jar leaving behind any residue that has collected at the bottom of the jar or run the tincture through an organic coffee filter.
  • Be sure to label jar with name, alcohol content, date of extraction.
  • Store tincture in clean glass jar.
  • Use as needed or indicated or desired.

You can watch Learning Herbs video on making Tinctures.

Standard Tincture Ratios

You can also make herbal tinctures according to a standard ratio. This ratio is made up of two parts: the herb and the menstruum (alcohol, glycerin).

Fresh plant material: typically a 1:2 to 1:1 ratio (this means 1 part plant material weighed in grams to 2 parts menstruum measured in milliliters)

For example: If I have 200 grams of fresh plant material then I will need 400 milliliters of menstruum (alcohol in this case)
Dried plant material: typically a 1:5 ration

Menstruum: You can use Everclear, Brandy or a good vodka.  Organic, if possible.

Step One: Gather plant material


Our motherwort harvest.

Step Two: Remove leaves and flowers.


Leaves and flowers in bowl.

Step Three:  Weigh in grams  (For this we had 200 grams)

Step Four: Measure alcohol in mls.  We had 200 grams of motherwort so a 1:2 dilution would mean we need 400mls of everclear.

Step Five:  You can either cut the motherwort with a sharp knife as fine as possible or you can place plant material and alcohol in a vitamix.  Once in Vitamix, gently pulse while gently pushing down on the plant material. With a bit of patience and stirring, the herb becomes well mixed with the alcohol.  (It does not need to be super fine.)


Plant and everclear combined.

Step Six:  Pour mixture into a sterilized canning jar or other jar. Push down the plant material so a bit of alcohol sits on the top. If this is not possible, wait until the following day and shake jar then using a chop stick or glass rod, gently stir the mix. Top of with alcohol (everclear, in this case) and recap.

Step Seven:  Create label with the following information:  Fresh motherwort and Everclear 75.5% alcohol. 1:2 May 5, 2012 You may also want to write where the plant material was obtained. E.g. Home garden


Mix in clean glass canning jar.

After I made Motherwort tincture, I made up a small batch of German chamomile from fresh flowers. Mmmmm.


German chamomile fresh flowers for tincture

Recommended books to have:

I love both of these books but if I were to have only one reference I would order “Making Plant Medicine” with Richo Cech.

• Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech

• The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green