Make a Non-Alcoholic Tincture
What is a non-alcoholic tincture?
Traditionally a tincture is medicinal infusion made using an alcohol. A tincture is a concentrated liquid preservation of an herb or medicinal substance that preserves the herb for a long period of time and makes it easier to consume. This is particularly true for roots, fibrous plants, resins and woody plants. It also helps to preserve not only the herbs, but also the nutrients within the herbs. Tinctures are one of the simplest natural remedies to make and are an in-expensive way to preserve herbs.
However, you don’t have to use alcohol. You can use apple cider vinegar instead of the traditional vodka, brandy or rum. This is preferable for those who prefer not to put alcohol into their body.
Herbal tinctures are often a preferred method of delivering the herbal benefits. Tinctures are also preferred because they make herbs much easier to carry and take when you are away from home. They are also very good for using in long term treatments and the volatile or semi volatile ingredients are retained. These ingredients are often lost when dry herbal extracts are processed or undergo heat treatments. Other benefits of tinctures include:
- Dosage changes can be made immediately
- They promote plant nutrient stability
- Nutrients from plants are absorbed much more rapidly
Consider the actions or energetics of the herb that you want to use, in addition to any precautions or contraindications. If you have a medical condition, are taking pharmaceutical drugs, or are pregnant, please consult your physician prior to taking herbs.
Some questions to ask before choosing herbs are:
- Do you want something that will be calming?
- Something to soothe or prevent illness?
- Do you have a medical condition or are you taking any pharmaceutical drugs?
- Do you have allergies to certain plants or plant families?
How to Make a Tincture
Get a high quality, organic, unprocessed apple cider vinegar. Braggs is a good choice.
Get an appropriate container. Ceramic or glass are recommended for a tincture. Do not use plastic or metallic because it can cause a reaction with the tincture. It can also, over time, leach chemicals into the tincture that are unhealthy and even dangerous. For steeping, use a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. A simple Mason jar is ideal. For storage, you want to get some small tincture bottles made from dark glass.
You want the bottles to seal well with a tight lid that either clips on or screws on. This will prevent air from seeping in during storage but still allow you to access the tincture easily. You also want to ensure that all containers and lids are thoroughly washed and sterilized before you use them.
To prepare your tincture, you can either measure the ingredients exactly or by sight. It's probably best to measure exactly the first few times, then as you become more comfortable you can measure more by sight. It is really up to you. You need to decide if you want to use dried herbs, powdered herbs or fresh herbs. A good rule of thumb for each type is as follows:
- 7 ounces dry herbs to 35 fluid ounces apple cider vinegar. You can half this if you want a smaller amount.
- 4 ounces powdered herbs to 1 pint apple cider vinegar
- Fill steeping container with chopped, fresh herbs and add apple cider vinegar to cover.
Stir the mixture with a butter knife. Make sure you get around the edges of the containerto be sure that all of the air bubbles are removed.
To steep the tincture, seal the container and label it with the name of the herbs as well as the date that you made it. Store it in a cool, dark place where it is out of reach or children and pets. Some experts recommend steeping the tincture for about 2 weeks, others up to a month. They also differ on how often to mix the ingredients by shaking. Some experts recommend shaking daily while others say shake the container occasionally.
Once your tincture has finished steeping, you need to strain it:
- Place a strainer over a large bowl. A large glass measuring cup/bowl is ideal. Line the strainer with muslin or cheescloth.
- Pour the contents of the steeping container over the cloth in the strainer. The muslin or cheesecloth will allow only the liquid to filter into the bowl while retaining the plant material.
- Once the steeping container is emptied, wrap the cloth over the plant material and gently press with a wooden spoon to extract any remaining liquid. To get all of the liquid, twist the muslin to squeeze out the very last bit.
Put the tincture in the smaller tinctures bottles that you have prepared. You may want to use a funnel to avoid spilling any liquid. Label the bottles with the contents as well as the date. Make sure that that lid is tight. If you will be storing the tincture and not using it immediately, it is advisable to use wax and seal the caps. Tinctures can be stored for up to 5 years. However, follow the instructions in the tincture recipe that you are using. It will often have storage information based on the herbs used and their specific properties.
If you need more information, talk to a qualified herbalist. Depending on the properties of certain herbs, some treatments can be dangerous. Make sure that you follow the instructions in your tincture recipes and ensure proper handling during the preparation, steeping and storing of your tincture.