The term tincture refers to a preparation with alcohol, vinegar, wine or glycerine. Herbal tinctures are alcoholic or water-alcoholic. Alcool is a better solvent than water for extracting plant constituents. In general, tinctures are solutions that contains at least 45 percent alcohol with the ration 1:4.
These are the ratios of herbs to menstrua:
- Tinctures of dried herbs : 20 gm of dried herb in 100 ml of tinctures (1:5 or 20%)
- Tinctures of dried toxic herbs : 10 gm of dried herb in 100 ml of tinctures (1:10 or 10%)
- Tinctures of fresh herbs : 50 gm of fresh herb in each 100 ml of undiluted ethyl alcohol (1:2 or 50%).
The dosage depends on the herb. Tinctures are more concentrated than either infusions or decoctions.
The concentration of alcohol varied between 40 percent to 60 percent. One of the best choice is a eighty-proof vodka that is a 40 percent alcohol by volume. Hundred proof represent a 50 percent alcohol by volume. Only 30 percent alcohol is sufficient to preserve a tincture. For the dried plant preparation, 40 percent is adequate. But with the fresh plant, because of the juice, maybe a 50 percent is more judicious.
Tincture recipe for dry plant : Grind dried herb to a powder. Weigh the plant. Place the powder into a large jar with a top. Add the alcohol. Stir the mixture well and add enough menstruum to the wet herb (¼ inch of extra menstruum sits atop the herb). If the her is floating, add ¼ inch below the herb. Cap jar tightly and check the jar after one day to check the menstruum. Some herbs absorbed it. You can add extra liquid if it happen. Shake the tincture for 14 days. Day 15, pour off the clear tincture from the top. Press the remaining wet pulp and combine these two liquids. Filter. Bottle.
Tincture recipe for fresh plant : Chop and weigh the fresh plant into a small pieces and stuff them into a canning jar. Filling it to the top and pack the herb into the jar very tightly. Add 190 proof ethyl alcohol. Filling the jar to the top and make sur all the herb is covered by the alcohol. Cap jar tightly. Shake the tincture for 1 days. Day 15, decant the liquid, press the remaining wet pulp and combine the two liquids. Filter and bottle.
Tincture by percolation
Maceration consists by extracting soluble constituents by simply soaking them in a solvent. But percolation is a process of extracting the soluble constituents of an herb by the slow passage of a solvent through a column of dried powdered plant which has been packed in a percolator.
The percolation process offers a tincture in 24 hours whereas maceration ordinary takes 14 days, sometimes longer. Percolation is easier and faster to prepare more highly concentrated dry plant tinctures and fluid extracts. The soluble constituents of an herb can be collected more completely by percolation than by soaking or pressing. The liquid left in the residue is pure menstruum.
To prepare the percolation, you need a percolator cone. The transmogriefied water bottle that will sit upside down could be a glass canning jar. You can also need a packing rod.
- Grind and sift your dried plant. Run the powder through your sifter and remove all chunks.
- Weigh the freshly ground herb. Pack the herb into a measuring cup to determine the compressed volume that herb fills (exemple : 200 ml). A volume of menstruum will be retained by the marc and discarded along with the marc at the completion of the percolation. For these reason, an amount of menstruum must be added to the full volume of menstruum that is required to produce a 1:5 tincture. This extra menstruum will be added to your original mensrtuum (800 ml + 200 ml).
- Prepare the menstruum of 40% to 60% alcohol, 60% of 190-proof ethyl alcohol or 40% of distilled water.
- Moist the herb slowly before the herb is packed into the cone. Add approximately 200 ml of menstruum to the powered herb and mix it. The mixture must be moist enough but not gets too moist.
- Place the moistened powder into a container that can be tightly sealed to prevent evaporation and let it sit for 1 hour to 6 hours.
- Pack lightly a coffee filter cone with some of the moist powder.
- Slide the filled paper cone down into the neck of the glass percolator cone. Once it is in place, make sure the paper cone is adhering to the glass and is sealed completely around.
- Gradually add more of the moist powder on top and tamp it down evenly with the packing rod. Be sure the top surface of the final layers is flat and level.
- Lay a second piece of filter paper coffee on top of the packed herbs. If you ant, you can place a quartz crystal to weigh the paper down.
- Set the packed percolator down into the cane jar. Make sure the top surface of the powder is level.
- Slowly pour the menstruum onto the column of herb.
- Having made sure that at least one inch of menstruum covers the top of the moist powder, so no air gets into the column.
- Cover the cone with a plastic bag.
- Left the herb macerate for at least 12, hour but 24 or 48 hours is the best.
- After the period of maceration, remove the plastic bag, let the menstruum carrying with the extractive to drip slowly into the cane jar. Slowly lift the cone and set it in a second jar to continue dripping.
- Continue to add fresh menstrum until it all drips through.
- Observe the quantity of tincture in the jar versus the among of menstruum remaining. The next time, you can adjust the extra menstruum depending on the herb used.
Reference : James Green : The herbal medicine–maker’s handbook: a home manual