How to Make Herbal Tinctures

How to Make Herbal Tinctures

I have several tincture recipes posted (including my two favorites: Chamomile Tincture and Digestion Tincture) but I realized that a post with general instructions on how to make a tincture from any herbs would be helpful.

A tincture is a concentrated liquid form of an herb that is easy to make and easy to take. Tinctures preserve and concentrate the properties of the herb, making them more effective and longer lasting.

Alcohol based tinctures have a shelf life of several years and are easy to use when needed! I keep several tinctures on hand for my kids, as they can be used externally even on small children for relief from common problems.

If you’ve ever bought tinctures from the store, I’d encourage you to try making your own, as they are very inexpensive and can be made in minutes.

Tincture Making Supplies

I make most tinctures in an alcohol base as this makes them the most long lasting, but tinctures can also be made with glycerine, vinegar or even with honey to make a syrup!

To make a tincture, you will need the following supplies:

  • A clean glass jar (at least pint size) with lid
  • Consumable alcohol like vodka or rum- at least 80 proof (or apple cider vinegar or food grade vegetable glycerine)
  • Herbs of choice (I get mine here or grow my own)

How to Make a Tincture

Also called an extract (in fact, the same process is used to make real vanilla extract), alcohol tinctures are the most common type and the easiest to make.

First, pick which herbs you plan to use. These are my three favorite tinctures:

Fill the jar 1/3 to 1/2 full with dried herbs. Filling half full will make a stronger tincture. Do not pack down.

Pour boiling water to just dampen all of the herbs. (This step is optional but helps to draw out the beneficial properties of the herbs)

Fill the rest of the jar (or the entire jar if not using hot water too) with alcohol and stir with a clean spoon.

Put the lid on the jar. Store the jar in a cool/dry place, shaking daily, for at least three weeks and up to six months. (I usually leave herbs for six weeks)

Strain through cheesecloth and compost the herbs. Store the tincture in colored dropper bottles or clean glass jars.

NOTE: The alcohol can be evaporated before use (see below) or a tincture can be made in the same way using apple cider vinegar, though it will need to be stored in the fridge and will only last 3-6 months.


How to Use Herbal Tinctures

The standard adult dose we take is 1/2 to 1 teaspoon up to three times a day as needed. Kids usually get 1/4 to 1/3 of the adult dose.

For children, pregnant women, or those not wanting to consume alcohol, it can be poured into a hot liquid like tea to evaporate the alcohol before consuming.

Ever made your own herbal tinctures? What is your favorite? Share below!

Herbal tinctures made from dried herbs are a great way to preserve and concentrate the benefits of the herbs. They are inexpensive to make and last for years!

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Reader Comments

  1. Great info! Thank you for such clear & simple instructions.
    🙂 Andrea

    • I’m drying my CA poppies for the veg glycerin tincture. Parts used? Leaves n flowers? Roots? All the aerial parts, inç stems?
      When storing, does the jar need to b sealed or just closed right?

  2. I want to make a tincture from dried hawthorn berries. Do you think I can tincture the berries whole or do I need to crush them first? Thanks!

    • I haven’t tried, but I’d probably crush them if I was going to make it…

    • I always grind mine in a coffee grinder.

  3. This is Awesome! Thank you so much for sharing… I didn’t know much about this before reading your article. I must say I am pleasantly surprised and excited to exchange my currently methods for these.

  4. Thank you for great info. I am trying to make this. How long can I store Glycerine tinctures?

  5. Do you have suggested herbal combinations?

    • I am currently making a tincture that will combat anxiety, stress, depression, and minor pain. Among many many other benefits, if you research each herb. I am including:

      Rhodiola rosea
      Bacopa monnieri
      Blue lotus

      • st johns wort is rly great too at nite. effects last into the day to keep me calm and not anxious.
        magnolia with the phellodendron is what Relora is made out of…great stuff.
        i also take scullcap
        catnip and valerian in the formula i buy.
        i have extreme insomnia. i take GABA and l-theanine too and magnesium at nite.
        Rxs dont work or i would take them. so take dont take everything i do LOL
        just sum other suggestions for sleepytime 🙂

      • Hello, thanks for the article. I was thinking recently about having a Bacopa tincture, but I’m not sure and couldn’t find an info about that if active substances in this herb dissolve in water, alcohol or fat (I really doubt the last one). Do you have any idea? If so, please, let me know (with the source please 🙂 If in water than what a sense does making a tincture make?

        Best regards 🙂

      • Where do you order all of these herbs? Tia

          • I just ordered from there to make your multi vitamin tincture. Very reasonable so I ordered some Hibiscus also. I am also growing Stevia plants to make the tincture. I want to use alcohol because you say it is stronger, which means I will use less but I am worried about the evaporation process. I can’t have alcohol.

  6. Excellent article and very useful
    kind regards Peter

    • Does the boiling water need to be dispossed before adding the vodka? About how much water should be used? Thank you for sharing!

  7. I’ve been looking into tinctures for a while, but was hesitant because of the alcohol. I never thought of evaporating it! So my question is, if I do evaporate it in hot tea, how long should I wait before it’s all evaporated? I suppose the hotter the tea, the less time it takes?

    • I’ve heard that 10 minutes is plenty…

  8. I made this with glycerin last year and used it frequently on my daughter’s sore gums. She would have used it from 9 months until about 18 months when she apparently had some decay in her incisors. Granted her diet was not as clean as it is now. But I love to hear some of your research about glycerin since its a questionable additive to products for most people. At the time of making it I was concerned about alcohol, even with evaporating it off since many culinary people say you can’t evaporate all of it off. So that’s why I bought the glycerin. Anyway, Thaks for reading and everything you do!

  9. Wow, very impressive post. For the most part, I think tinctures are far more effective than teas or straight herbs.

    As well, I think your suggested tinctures would make great
    curations for various herbal martinis. Thank you so much for the fabulous info and

  10. you use several different recipes for making tinctures, is there one better than other or does it depend on the herbs using? Does it matter if you use water or not?

  11. Wow that 6 weeks flew by! I made 3 tinctures: chamomile, calendula & lavender. I’d love to use them to make gifts for my family – all of my cousins have babies, ages 0-4 & more on the way! A question for Wellness Mama & readers… If you could pick anything, internal or external, made with one or more of these tinctures, what would they be? For you or for baby. Looking for gift ideas 🙂
    Thanks in advance!!!

  12. Should this be steeped specifically in a dark location? I’m currently steeping a fersh lemon balm tincture and was told to place in a sunny window for 6-8 weeks.

    • I made my double lemon balm glycerine tincture in a dark pantry. It turned out perfect. Hope that helps.

      • There is no mention of the shelf life of glycerin tincture. Do u know this?

        • She did state the shelf life of Tinctures made with Glycerin, it is about a year.

      • can i use fresh herbs instead of dried ones?

        • I always use fresh herbs, but don’t add the water. Also, very tightly pack them in the jar. Oh…and fill the jar to the very top with herbs & alcohol.

    • I’ve made double lemon balm glycerine tincture in the past and it was wonderful. Everyone asks for it. This year wasn’t a great growing year for my lemon balm so I ordered dried and was so pleased to find your directions for making a glycerine tincture out of dried herbs. Just in time since we were down to our last bottle!! I’ll be making it today. I’m also anxious to try out lots of other herbs. You have great followers with great ideas. 🙂

  13. Just found you and am so GRATEFUL to you for all you are doing for all of us!! Question: How does one take this? Under the tongue? Down it like a shot? Mix in water? Rub on the skin? Thanks!

  14. Second Question: Chamomile essential oil is very expensive. Could I substitute chamomile tincture for recipes calling for chamomile EO?

  15. I know this is an old post, but wondering if adding the boiling water when making a tincture reduces the shelf life of the tincture? This is the first time I’ve seen a recommendation to add boiling water before the alcohol and I’m trying to figure out pros/cons of this method.

    • I am wondering about the water too, I was thinking it would create an environment for mold.

      • I think her reasoning is that the boiling water allows the healing properties of the herbs to be released. But, just like tea, I think you need to let it steep for ~5 mins before adding the vodka. I realized when I was making mine that adding cold vodka right after would cool the water down, thus negating the benefits of boiling water!

        I think the amount of vodka used is enough to ward of mold, plus I’d recommend always using distilled water in recipes like this, and make sure the kettle/pot you’re boiling in is clean.

        • But would this hold true with using vegetable glycerin?

        • the best way to release the herbs is to heat them in a low oven until they are warm. no water needed.

      • I just made the chamommile tincture and its been in my cabinet for 3 weeks with no mold in sight. The alcohol is definitely taking care of any mold problem that might be there!

  16. I would like to use an herbal tincture in a liquid soap recipe but I am just starting to learn about tinctures. What size jar did you use to make your tincture? I was also planning on using glycerine instead of alcohol. I discovered your blog through pinterest and I love all your posts!

  17. I’m confused. How does pouring the tincture into tea evaporate the alcohol?
    I don’t mind it but I know some people who won’t even allow alcohol in their house. Just curious. How does it evaporate in a hot drink? I have put hard liquor like rum in my hot coffee before aaand it doesn’t quite evaporate lol.

    • When making the tincture, the alcohol and the hot liquid help draw out the beneficial properties of the herbs. A small amount of the tincture can then be added to water and let evaporate to remove the alcohol

      • with this process, is 100% of the alcohol removed? Can you explain it on a more scientific level. Have you tested a product where alcohol was used to extract then added to water and let evaporate? Was the product conclusive to contain 0% alcohol?

  18. Why does the jar have to be at least a pint size? I really want to try making a tincture but I can’t imagine needing a half pint of tincture!

    • It won’t make that much, the herbs will absorb a lot of the liquid but the herbs expand when they get wet so you need room for that.

  19. But that doesn’t make any sense. If I have vodka. And I put it in tea. Then my tea is alcoholic. Unless I let it sit there for a while I mean. Yeah liquor evaporates but it takes a long while. So how would I put it in tea or what have you? Because I do not want to use glycerin and trying to get people to drink vinegar is like trying to get them to drink poison. Lol.
    So how does the alcohol evaporate?

    • Alcohol evaporates more quickly than water, and this speeds up at higher temperatures. When adding 15 drops of a tincture that is only half alcohol to begin with, it evaporates quickly.

      • Oooh ok. I see now. Thank you!!! 🙂

  20. i recently made your chamomile tincture and noticed that the instructions said to use more water than you suggest using in this post? is there a reason for that? i was also hoping you could give me some basic info about using apple cider vinegar…what’s the shelf life? do you add water or just the acv? do i need to warm it first? thanks

  21. Can I put an herbal alcohol tincture into a homemade lotion (beef tallow base)? Will the homemade lotion become medicinal once I add the tincture? (and how much should I add) – THANK YOU so much!

    • I don’t add liquids to homemade lotions but you should be able to. LEt me know how it goes if you try it

  22. Is it okay to add peppermint essential oil and ginger essential oil to the chamomile tincture? If so, how much is okay to add?

  23. I made a ginger honey and a mint glycerin tincture at my bot pharm class. Delicious!

    • Ginger & mint essential oils or fresh ginger root & fresh herbal mint? Thanks 🙂

  24. I am in the process of making an echinacea tincture with 80 proof vodka. Are you allowed to give a drop of this to a child when it is made with alcohol?

    • You are allowed. They would probably get more alcohol in most cough medicines, unless you specifically buy it without. Some people, for philosophical or religious reasons, don’t want to give their children alcohol.

  25. Great article and I love your website….always such great info! I found a lavender tincture tucked away in my cabinet that would have been ready to bottle after 6 weeks on 1/31/14. It’s now 6/11/14…would it too old to use? It was made with an alcohol base.

      • Thanks so much!! I was hoping I hadn’t ruined it. Thanks for all the info you supply on your website, too.

  26. Hi thanks for the great info. I want to try making my first tincture using mimosa flowers. Have you done this before? Can I use fresh flowers or should I dry them first? Thanks!!!

  27. I made a St. Johns Wort tincture. But when I strained it, it didn’t have that amber/brownish look tinctures generally have. I didn’t think much of it and left it for a while. When I came back to it, it had separated. The brown watery part on top and what looked like green plant matter on the bottom. Do I keep both parts or do I dispose of the green plant matter?

  28. Hi
    Thanks for your recipe. I’m keen to start making tinctures but where I live I can only seem to buy 69 proof alcohol from our bottle shops and then only in 500ml bottles. Would this still make a strong enough tincture?

  29. Hi! I was wondering if there is any way to know how many mg of the particular herb you are getting in each dose?

  30. I’m a recovering alcoholic so rum and vodka isn’t such a good idea for me what can I do about this.. Thanks

    • There are tinctures made with glycerine in place of alcohol, so if you Google “how to make a glycerine herbal tincture” you should find some results that will work for you.

  31. Quick question, will dampening the herbs with water dilute the alcohol too much?

  32. Hi Katie. Love this post. I did hear that tinctures from glycerine aren’t as potent as those from alcohol – wondering what you think about that. Thanks!

  33. I have a small garden and have grown herbs from an organic source in organic soil. Making tinctures is new to me but I look forward to learning this process and thank you for your clear, simple instructions. I have just put together tinctures of oregano, sage, and rosemary and, as soon as the herbs are dried, I will do thyme also. Six weeks to go! Question #1: I have been drying my herbs in the sun. Is that good or is it better to let them dry out in a cool, dark place? Question #2: How do I use the tinctures to maximum benefit? Is it best to dilute them or not and, generally how often does one dose?

  34. I was so happy! I just finished my first set of herbal tinctures. That is, until I went to purchase more vodka.Then, I realized that I had used 42 proof vodka in my first batches. Will this harm the tinctures? And, will they be shelf stable?

  35. You said in your post that the tinctures can be taken externally, I’m assuming so that kids don’t need to consume alcohol, but you don’t mention how, just curious. Love your page!

  36. You use many glass containers in different recipes. Do you boil to sanitize or just clean the glass jar or glass sprayers before use? Thanks!

  37. Hey there, thanks SO much for this brilliant post! I have a question… I recently found a treasured box of tinctures that I made years ago but thought was lost. The tinctures have all been kept in the dark but they must be at least 5 years old. I would throw them all out & start again, but I am time poor (with a toddler) & I’m rather attached. So my questions are a) how long can a tincture last? (if in the right conditions) & b) what are the signs that it has expired? ie. how will i know if it’s good or bad? Thanks so much! I love your work!! xx

    • If they were in high alcohol content and they don’t have an off flavor or smell, they should be ok. Our teacher where we take jujutsu has talked about herbal tinctures (especially dit da jow) that are made by families and continually refilled so they are thousands of years old. They scoop out tincture as needed, and add more herbs and alcohol.

  38. I will start adding a couple steps to my method, thsnk you! I would encourage people not to sweat the instructions too much…i started making tinctures and extracts before I knew what i was doing and my products almost always work out. If you haven’t gone shopping for dried flowers yet, you may not realize how inexpensive they are! Buy them in bulk at a health food store, today i loaded up on 10 different herbs and flowers, beeswax, a couple new bottles for diy product, and a couple lbs of turbinado sugar. $20. This stuff works and it isn’t rocket science…have fun!

    I think they make grain alcohol for crafting that is somehow treated so it tastes undrinkable. That may be an option for those in recovery. Alcohol is in many, many products – at high concentrations – that you would not normally drink.

  39. There are so many different types of tinctures that is recommended to be taken daily? How many different types of tinctures can you take on a daily basis?
    could I have 1 tsp daily of 10 different tinctures?

    – Dami

  40. Hi, does anyone have any idea what herbs are good for teething babies? I’m trying to make a glycerin tincture for my one year old since she has a lot of teething pains.

    • Chamomile is great for that!

    • Another herb that has been historically for tooth pains is clove. You could use either whole cloves steeped in the alcohol or glycerine. You could also use a small pepper grinder to grind up the cloves just before adding the extracting liquid. I expect that more of the essential, bio-active compounds would be extracted more quickly that way.

    • Placenta tincture is amazing as a teething remedy! I’m a placenta encapsulation specialist and do this often for mamas! Maybe no help with this baby, but maybe useful in the future!

  41. i’m still a bit confused on the evaporation process..
    ACV tastes awful, so alcohol is likely to be what i use. but without making a tea to “evaporate” the alcohol in the tincture, can i rid the taste of the alcohol in the tincture without mixing it with something else?
    i’d like to use it solely as a tincture, so i’m hoping there’s a way to use just that form.. start to finish.

    • You can just drop the alcohol tincture straight into your throat you don’t have to evaporate it first

  42. Hi I am wondering how to know if a chamomile glycerine tincture went bad… It burned my throat…

  43. I can see using a tincture for acute symptoms. Is it better, or even an option, to use the herbs in various tea(s), as a maintenance form, to maintain wellness, antioxidant effects, etc.?

  44. Do you know of tinctures that aid in liver detox… obviously made with glycerin or ACV, not alcohol.

    Thanks for all you do. I am sort of the de facto herbologist of my company, family, et al. So I am always looking for new/useful information. You’re information fits the bill!

    • Milk thistle

  45. I am just curious, you state to use dried herbs to make the tincture with but what if I use fresh herbs? Is that not recommended? I have a bunch of fresh Beauty Berry leaves that I want to make a tincture with and I didn’t want to have to dry them only to try to reconstitute them with the boiling water. I was planting on chopping them very fine as well.

    Your thoughts?

    • You can, but it is just important to use a very high proof alcohol, no water, and make sure it is completely covered.

  46. To finish a tincture for those who can’t have an alcohol base, after you filter pour into a pan and light the fumes at boiling. This will burn off the alcohol and you can add honey or glycerine as a sweetener. CAUTION: The use of high grade spirits or vodka burns a hot blue flame. During daylight its very hard to see. I do mine outside on a propane camp stove in the evening so to see the flame better. No flame and the tincture is ready. This is when I add honey to taste so it mixes well. Enjoy

    • Thanks for this info Phil…I know this is an old post, but if you get this, can you tell me, how long does your tincture last in this form – with the alcohol boiled off? Thanks.

  47. How to convert dry–pill/tablet dosages, say 250mg, to tincture dosages? I know most tinctures are 1-2 dropperfuls a day or twice a day, but trying to go from 1 250mg pill or tablet to liquid I can’t figure it out.

  48. I really appreciate all the information you share and often use your site!! I just made an elderflower tincture this afternoon- pressed down the flowers and covered with vodka. I happened to notice that some of the flowers had popped above the liquid and turned quite brown! I pushed them down and added more alcohol, but am wondering if I should be concerned about the few brown flowers now in the jar? It was literally no more than 4 hours since making it that I noticed them and added more alcohol.
    Thanks for any feedback/suggestions!!

    • It should be fine. The alcohol will quickly pull the color out of flowers, and adding additional alcohol should make sure no bacteria is present.

  49. Hi, thanks for this, I made it as an alcoholic tincture about 8 was ago, just want to clarify about now evaporating the alcohol. So I add a small amt to some boiling water, so does this mean the spray then becomes a drink?


    • You can add the tincture you want to consume (10-15 drops or whatever amount) to an ounce or so of warm or boiling water to evaporate the alcohol… it would not have to be a lot of hot water or enough to make a drink but you can also add to hot tea.

  50. i put the drops of tincture into a measuring tablespoon then fill it with hot water, carefully, and watch the alcohol bubble off it. it will stop in just moments, then drink it down.
    easy peasy. feels good on my throat when sore and no cooking the tincture. just evapping the alcohol.

  51. You say to add boiled water before the alcohol because it draws out the beneficial uses. However, I’ve read elsewhere that the heat can often denature the structures of the proteins, which may prove less beneficial. Thoughts?

    Thank you!

  52. I would be extremely careful using this for all herbs. It can work for some that are mild without major side effects, but with things that are much more potent where the dosing has to be more precise then you have to be more careful in how you make a tincture to make sure you don’t give too much… Just a thought. Herbs are great remedies but I don’t think people realize that you can really hurt yourself or your loved ones by making these things without precise measurements. It is definitely more complicated but worth it!

    • for sure look up the recommended dosage on an appropriate site.

  53. Do you use any specific books as to reference these recipes? Looking for books to make my own tinctures at home.

  54. Katie, have you ever tried using the elderberries in making a tincture instead of making the syrup ? Was wondering if it could be done and would be as effective as the syrup ?

  55. Hi. Do you have a tincture for circulation?

    • I found a pre-made tincture for circulation on, but you could check out the ingredients they use to make it and adapt one for yourself. They should also sell all the ingredients you would need right on their website.

      • I was following the recipe on wellness mama. perhaps i was overthinking it. i want to make my own, and am using vegetable glycerin. are the rest of the directions followed from the other recipes, by chance?

    • You can try Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica) for circulation. It also helps for rheumatism, leg cramps, varicose veins, etc. It grows very easily.

  56. I’m a little confused. How can I make a tincture safe for a child when using alcohol? And how is it effective using externally ?


  57. Hello.
    I have a question regarding perishability of herbs steeped in oil. Please bear in mind, I know little about preserving vegetable material.

    I have no question that herbs stored in vodka are safe and imperishable, however, it seems to me that storing fresh or dried herbs in oil alone may be questionable as to safety. However, desirable oil based elements in herbs may not go into suspension in alcohol alone, and may require oil to do so.

    I wonder if this may be resolved by adding alcohol to the mix. This would probably lead to a problem of separation in the bottle.

    I’d appreciate your comment on this.

  58. I would thing you would surely have separation…however it’s possible you could shake well before using each time….I’m just speculating….since in order to have a mixture that won’t separate you would have to have a binder.

  59. Hello,

    I made some tinctures using fresh herbs and at day 3, the alcohol level went down and the leaves that were not submerged, turned black. I poured more vodka in to cover them again. This was with peppermint leaves and the stems and oregano leaves and stems. Do you know why this may have happened? Are they safe to use?


  60. I realize I’m late to the conversation but I rarely ever get sick and recently felt myself coming down with something so I went the herbal tincture route and it seems to be working. I’m just wondering if anyone here can advise on whether glycerin or alcohol based tinctures are the better option when following a low-carb way of eating? I have been taking about 6 different tinctures 4-5 times a day for two weeks and I’d rather not undermine my ongoing body re-composition efforts unnecessarily. Thanks for any input on this!

  61. I have had interest in tincture for well over one and half years now. I got my tutorials from Marian Treben’s God’s Pharmacy. She recommends 40 proof or even 38. I gather from your notes that my tincture may not be as potent as it should be. Your reaction to this please.

  62. Hi there! This is probably a silly question but, my midwife made a placenta tincture for me after I had my son and she made it with brandy and we really like the flavor. Would I be able to use brandy instead of vodka when I make an herbal tincture?

  63. Is it ok to give tinctures to dogs? Like in their food or does the alcohol cause them problems?

  64. I have a question, I finally decided to make a tincture at the beginning of Summer. High proof vodka in a dark, dry, cool place AKA: my cabinet.
    I strained/jarred it tonight and it is incredibly thick! Very viscous like that of thick snot. Almost slimy? Again like snot. Is that supposed to be the way it is? Is there anyway I can thin it out a bit? It looks ok, I think? No mold or anything.
    I made sure to keep the herbs covered the entire time and to shake it up every once in awhile. What happened?