The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

Tincture Making: Macerations

Tinctures can also be called :
Alcohol-Water Extractions or Hydro-Ethanol Extracts

1. Menstruum – any fluid used to extract therapeutic properties from plants. Usually a water-alcohol mix.
2. Marc – the herb being extracted
3. Maceration – the soaking of the marc in the menstruum.

The final product will be a mixture of water and alcohol.
This is used because some chemical constituents are water soluble and some are alcohol soluble.
When using fresh plants, the juice of the plant provides the water so pure alcohol (Everclear) is added.
When using dried herbs, the plant has no moisture so the menstruum must include some water along with the alcohol.
Many home herbalists use vodka as it is already a mixture of water and alcohol.
Diluting Everclear with water is also an option.

Distilled alcohol has no gluten proteins and should not be an issue with gluten intolerance or pollen allergies.
Some distilled alcohols have added flavoring that contain gluten.
Using commercial, plain vodka should not be a gluten issue.
Organic alcohol is available at:

Fresh Plant Tinctures
1. Folk Method
This method can be used when picking plants fresh from the garden.
It is best to chop the fresh plant matter into smaller pieces so more surface area comes in contact with the menstruum.
Then, fill jar with the chopped fresh plant.
Pour Everclear alcohol to the top.

2. Commercial Method
The commercial method of making fresh plant tincture is to use one ounce of plant to two ounces of alcohol.
This 1:2 ratio is commonly seen on store-bought tincture labels.

Put on lid and label.
Let sit for 2 weeks in the dark.
Pour tincture into container while straining out the herb. Discard the herb.

Dried Herb Tincture
Use 1 part weight of dried herb to 5 parts volume of menstruum.
Menstruum is usually 40-60% alcohol mixed with water.
80 – 100 proof vodka works well as does an Everclear/ water mixture.

The herb should be ground into a powder in the blender.
Within reason, the more surface area that is exposed to the menstruum, the better.
Something resembling cornmeal is a good size.
Too fine a powder (like powdered sugar) allows the herb to pack down and it doesn’t contact the menstruum.

Put on the lid and label with:
Botanical Name
Ratio (this is typically 1:5)
Alcohol %.
Let sit for at least 2 weeks in a dark, cool place.

To separate the marc from the menstruum, some form of pressure must be applied.
Larger operations use hydraulic or electrical presses.

The home herbalist can pour the mixed marc and menstruum through a strainer, then place the remaining marc into a muslin cloth and strain.
This is done by wringing the herb-filled muslin cloth like wringing out a washrag.

Another option is to use a potato ricer.

Regardless of the method, discard the herb after pressing.

For menstruum and dosage details of specific plants, use:

1. Herbal Materia Medica by Michael Moore at:

2. Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech

3. The Modern Herbal Dispensatory by Thomas Easley


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