I love making tinctures. For me the process of growing my own herbs, drying them, and packaging them for future use is so rewarding. When you make a tincture, you have to really get to know the herbs you are using. What benefits will they bring to you and what health concerns you are trying to address.
Tinctures are concentrated liquid extracts of herbs. They are easy to make, convenient and they have a long shelf life. Making tinctures with dried herbs is commonly called Macerations. Basically macerations are soaking your herbs in a solution for 14 days or longer. Most macerations are done by cold process, meaning they don’t require heat. The liquid solution you use to extract the herbs is called the solvent or menstruum. Menstruum is an alchemical term used for a substance that dissolves a solid. There are many mentruums: alcohol, glycerin, vinegar, water, syrup, and oils.
In most circumstances, I prefer using alcohol when making a tincture, but again, this is determined by how I want to use the tincture and for what healing properties. The actual amount of alcohol you’ll consume in a tincture is very little, (approximately 1-2 teaspoons in daily use.) Alcohol tinctures have the longest shelf life than any other herbal extract. They can be stored for years, and in most cases, without losing their potency. Taking herbs in alcohol allows your senses to regulate your dosage. Tinctures in alcohol deliver the herbal properties into the bloodstream fast and have a more consistent absorption from person to person. Meaning once you figure out your dosage, the effects will be consistent each time you use it. Alcohol-based tinctures also mix well into beverages.
Standard tinctures are made by using a weight-to-volume ratio of 1:5 with dried herbs. A good ole mason jar holds about 150 grams of plant material with 750 milliliters of menstruum. The percentage of alcohol used depends on the plant and the properties you are trying to extract. For most dry plants an alcohol content of 40-60% is best. You can use vodka, brandy, gin, or rum to extract your herbs. You just want to be sure that you are using a solvent that is 80-100% proof. The proof will be measured by the actual content of alcohol in the spirit: half of the proof is the percentage of the alcohol. So an 80-proof spirit is 40% alcohol. The rest of the spirit is water. The ratio range of 40:60 (40% alcohol, to 60% water) to 50:50 (50% alcohol, 50% water) is the perfect medium for extracting herbs.
There’s something about learning everything you can about the herbs you are using then creating your own medicine from them for what ails you. But I also love making tinctures as a way of consuming cannabis recreationally. As a person who doesn’t drink alcohol, tinctures are a great way to micro-dose, and they're perfect in a good mocktail. I feel like when I’m making a mocktail, I’m making a potion. So when I formulate my cannabis tinctures, I’m sure to think about this from the beginning. I have cannabis tinctures combined with herbs to help me sleep better, formulated with herbs to promote circulation, (and can later add to my topicals), or herbs that I like in combination with cannabis to help keep me grounded. I also think about the taste and a lot of times I make a tincture during summer harvest using blackberries, mint, calendula, and borage. These are so good with a simple seltzer water and ice. You can create cannabis tinctures with cinnamon bark, mushrooms, ashwagandha, fresh ginger or turmeric, and dried orange peels to name a few. Possibilities are endless. You just need to do your research and experiment. It’s a creative process and a lot of fun!
Tinctures are practical magic— with endless recipes to harmonize body and mind.