Tinctures are an easy way of taking herbs, as the herb is in a liquid form and preserved. Herbs whose active constituents are water soluble are made with 25% alcohol, in order to preserve the tincture. Other herbal tinctures are made with 45% or even 90% alcohol. Their strengths normally range from: one third of herb to the alcohol solution (1:3) down to one tenth of herb to alcohol solution (1:10).
To make a tincture add the herb into a container (such as a glass jar) cover with alcohol and leave in a cool dark place for 3 weeks, shake the bottle each day. After a few weeks the alcohol should have changed colour, strain off the herb and either repeat with more herb or bottle in a opaque bottle and store in a cool dark place.
The easiest type of alcohol to use for a home made tincture is vodka. With vodka it is fairly easy to make a 25% tincture with fresh herbs (as the water in the herb will reduce the percentage of the overall tincture), or a 45% tincture with dried herbs.
To make half a litre of lavender tincture from dried herbs use 100g dried lavender flowers and 500ml of vodka (strength 1:5, alcohol 45%).
Only use enough herb for the vodka to cover, you may have to use 50g initially (making a half strength tincture) and then repeat the process with the other 50g (using the original tincture to cover the herb) to achieve full strength.
For fresh herbs you will need a larger weight of herb to account for the water content in the plant matter.
To make a half litre marigold tincture from fresh herbs use about 200 gm of marigold flowers and 500 ml of vodka (strength 1:5, alcohol 25%).
This assumes that about half of the plant matter is water so the strength is still 1:5 despite using more herbs compared to the dried herb example. The extra water from the fresh herbs also contribute to reduce the alcohol % of the final product. With fresh herbs it is very likely the process will need to be done twice as explained above.
To increase efficiency and tincture strength you can also grind down the herbs you are using before adding alcohol, this enables a greater strength ratio to be achieved as more herbs can be covered by the alcohol at once.
A “Fluid Extract” is a term meaning a 1:1 ratio of alcohol and herb. This gives a concentrated extract although a 3:1 or 5:1 ratio is more commonly used.