Tinctures by the Folk Method

Tinctures are one of the most effective ways to prepare a herbal remedy and if stored properly, they can last many years. It is as simple as filling a jar with herbs and alcohol. The Folk Method is the easiest way to make a tincture. The Ratio Method is a little more complex but yields a more consistent result between batches.

Step 1: Gather and clean your herbs. Towel dry them or let them air dry a little if you’ve just washed them so that any excess water doesn’t interfere with making a strong tincture.

Gather your herbal material
Gather your herbal material

Step 2: Slice, chop or blend the herb into small pieces.

Chop or blend your herbs
Chop or blend your herbs

Step 3: Three quarters fill your jar with the herb.

You don’t completely fill the jar so that when you shake the bottle to mix the herb and alcohol together, there is plenty of room for movement and mixing.

3/4 fill your jar with herbs
3/4 fill your jar with herbs

Step 4: Fill the jar with your chosen alcohol.

The alcohol is the solvent in which the herbal compounds will be dissolved and extracted from the plant material. Technically, it is called the ‘menstrum’.

Interestingly, the word ‘menstrum’ comes from the Latin ‘ mensis‘ which is also the origin of our word ‘month’. The reason for the name is that, in the old days, a tincture was prepared on the new moon and bottled on the full moon – a period of a month. There are various mystical reasons for this but I reckon it was because folks didn’t have calendars on their fridges to remind them when they started the process.

Fill with alcohol until the herbs are covered
Fill with alcohol until the herbs are covered

Step 5: Make sure all of the bubbles are removed, use a long handled spoon or spatula.

Step 6: Seal the jar and give it a good shake.

Step 7: Label the jar appropriately. I like to include the taxonomic name of the herb to avoid confusion, the date that the the tincture was started and the percentage of the alcohol that was used to make it.

Step 8: Put in a warm, dry place, out of direct sunlight.

Step 9: Shake the jar daily for a week or so. then at least once a week for the next three weeks, That helps the goodness get out into the alcohol.

Step 10: After 1 month, press out the alcohol, strain and bottle. Store the bottle in a cool, dark place as direct sunlight can have a negative reaction with the tincture.

Don’t forget to label the bottle!

Hooray! You’ve made your first tincture!

A brand new tincture.
A brand new tincture.