Make Your Own Herbal Vitamin and Mineral Tincture

Herbal tinctures have been on my “learn to make” list for a long time.

Just over a month ago, I got inspired and tried it for the first time. The process was far easier and more straightforward than I ever imagined it would be, and I’m only sorry I waited so long to try.

What is a tincture?

Shoshanna from Bulk Herb Store defines a tincture this way in her book Making Babies:

Tinctures are medicinal extracts in a liquid such as alcohol, glycerin, vinegar, or honey. In a tincture, an herb is broken down into the liquid by heat, alcohol or fermentation.

Basically, you’re taking a whole lot of herbs, transferring all of their medicinal and nutritional qualities to your liquid of choice, so that you wind up with a very concentrated herbal extract. Now you can get a lot of good stuff in a very small dose.

Which herbs should you use?

It all depends on what you want your tincture to do. There are endless types of tinctures that can be made for different purposes (for strengthening the liver, for helping you sleep better, for fighting infections or viruses, etc.).

This particular one that I made was intended to be a vitamin and mineral supplement for me, to ensure that I and my nursing baby have all the nutrients we need. I’m of the school of thought that tends to think that we should get our nutrition primarily from eating a high-quality, whole foods diet, BUT I also admit that it can be a struggle to find food sources that are as ideal as we’d like them to be. Soil depletion is a huge issue, our bodies daily battle more toxins than ever before in history, and so sometimes I think that giving ourselves a nutrient boost in addition to what we eat is just a good idea.

I based my tincture on Shoshanna’s “My Vitamin Tincture” recipe from her Making Babies series. I didn’t have all of the ingredients, though, and I wanted to include a few others that I thought were important, so I also used some herbs listed in her “Vitamin B Tincture”, as well as the “Iron Infusion”.

Here’s what mine included:

  • 2 cups red raspberry leaf- magnesium, calcium, iron and other minerals, plus vitamins C, E, A and B complex
  • 1 cup rosehips (I wildcrafted these from my yard last fall and dehydrated them for medicinal use)- vitamin C, bioflavanoids, fighting stress and infection
  • 3/4 cup dandelion leaves (again, from my yard last year)- high in vitamins and minerals, especially iron and calcium.
  • 1 cup chamomile flowers- good for nerves, digestion and circulation
  • 2 cups oat straw- particularly high in minerals, especially magnesium and calcium
  • 2 cups nettle- chlorophyll, vitamins C and A, minerals (calcium, silicon, potassium)
  • 5 Tbsp burdock- minerals including chromium, copper, iron and magnesium, also a tonic and blood purifier (note that in larger amounts and particularly when used by itself, this can be more strongly detoxifying, which is why it’s used only in a small amount and together with other herbs here- as a nursing mom, detoxifying isn’t my goal)
  • 1/2 cup catnip- soothing and calming to the body and it’s systems

If I could have added one more herb, it would have been alfalfa, since it is extremely high in vitamins, minerals, amino acids and chlorophyll. I didn’t have any on hand and my local health food store didn’t carry it. I was too eager to start making my tincture, so I went without this time around.

It needs to be said that this is just what I chose to use, and not necessarily a recipe for anyone else. The main reason for posting this is to give you a pictorial tutorial of the tincture-making process, not to tell you exactly how to make a specific tincture. I chose these herbs based on some of Shoshanna’s tincture recipes, as well as my own personal knowledge and study of herbs, so this is what I felt comfortable with.

I would advise you to really research the particular herbs yourself or find a recipe from a respected herbalist (and no, I’m not a herbalist!) before deciding what to put in your own tinctures. Herbs, natural as they may be, still have very real effects on the body and must be used with careful, educated discretion!

How to Make An Herbal Tincture

Step 1

Decide on your herbs and amounts, and mix everything into a bowl until all herbs are well distributed.

Step 2

Scoop your dry herb mixture into as many clean, dry mason jars as necessary. I had no idea how many I would need when I started mixing it all up. For me, 4 pint jars ended up being the magic number.

I filled each just a little over 3/4 full. I wanted to leave room for the liquid that I would be adding, and for the herbs to absorb liquid and expand.

Step 3

Fill your herb jar about 40% full with hot water (don’t consider the top 1-2 inches part of the jar- fill it up to 40% of the jar minus that top inch).

Then, fill it up the rest of the way with food grade glycerin (again, leaving 1-2 inches at the top).

If you’re wondering how much glycerin you’ll need, I used almost one 16 oz. bottle to make my 4 jars. So probably about 3 1/2 oz. per pint jar, or just over 100 ml each.

Add lids and screw them on tightly.

Step 4

Add a towel or two to the bottom of your crockpot. This is so that the jars won’t break on the hot crockpot dish.

Then, fill the crockpot up with water to the top of the jar, but not actually touching or covering the lid.

Step 5

Turn the crockpot on low. Then walk away.

Wait very. very. very patiently. For 3 whole days.

Check in on your crockpot once or twice a day. Make sure the water is keeping your jars nice and hot, but that they aren’t boiling. If too much water evaporates and the level in the crockpot gets low, top it back up to where it should be. Other than that, just let it do the work for you.

Step 6

Remove your finished jars and let them cool off on the counter.

When you open them, this is what they might look like. The herbs have all been thoroughly “cooked” and everything looks dark brown.

I actually panicked slightly when I got to this step, because it looked like there was hardly any liquid left in the jars at all. I worried that I had kept things too hot or that the liquid had all evaporated.

Neither of those things were true. What happened is that the liquid was absorbed into the herbs (and yes, a small amount evaporated as well, I’m sure). When I strained them, I discovered that there was still plenty of liquid, even if I couldn’t see it.

Step 7

Set up a strainer/colander of some sort, with a clean cloth or even an old cut-up piece of tee shirt for straining the herbs.

Dump the entire contents of each jar onto the cloth/fabric.

Then, pull the ends of the cloth together and squeeze.

You’ll need to squeeze quite a bit, because you want to extract every last drop of tincture out of the herbs. Once I began to do this, I was relieved to see how much liquid was actually still there.

Note: Don’t be as impatient as I was. I barely let my jars cool for 30 minutes on the counter (remember- they’ve been in a hot crockpot for 3 days!). When I had to start using my hands to squeeze the liquid out of the still-hot herbs, my daughter came in to see why I kept yelping “ouch! hot! ouch! I should have waited!”.

(Did this stop me? No. Insane woman that I am, I kept right on squeezing and straining and burning my hands. I just had to see my finished product!)

Step 8

After straining, compost the used herbs, and pour the liquid tincture into glass jars for storage.

You can see that my 4 pint jars of dry herbs yielded about 1 1/2 pints of tincture or 24 oz. I transferred some of it into an old stevia bottle that I had saved and cleaned out for this purpose.

I wanted to calculate how much I spent to make this much, but it was really difficult to know, since I had bought some herbs from one place and some from another, and I couldn’t remember exactly what I paid for them. I guesstimate that the total cost was about $20-$25 which includes having spent way too much on the glycerin because I was too impatient to wait for my bulk order to arrive (if I had waited, my cost would have been more like $15-$18 maybe).

Of course, that’s the cost when I break down each package by how much a cup or this or two cups of that would cost. For those who are having to start from scratch and buy everything upfront, the cost will seem high initially, but if you break it down to how much you actually use for each batch, you’ll see that this is a frugal way to go.

It’s not uncommon to pay a good $10-$20 for a small 2 oz. bottle of high quality tincture, so you can see how much money this could save you! I will definitely be doing this for my own vitamin/mineral supplements from now on, as well as making an immune boosting (echinacea, goldenseal, and probably a few other things) tincture for our family to use when we get sick.

One dropperful of my lovely, dark brown, somewhat sweet tincture. I take 1 or 2 of these droppers twice each day.

The taste is very pleasant and the glycerin content isn’t too high that it becomes sickeningly sweet. I don’t mind taking it at all.

As you’ll see on Wednesday of this week, this is not the only way to draw the medicinal qualities out of dry herbs. Natalie is going to show you how she does it over a longer period of time, without the heat of the crockpot, and for a very different purpose than my tinctures (hint: it’s good for all sorts of owies).

I just love how versatile herbs are and I continued to be grateful and amazed by the healing and nourishing qualities that God has put into them!

Have you ever used a herbal tincture? Which herbs do you use regularly and how do you use them?

Disclaimer: I am not a certified medical professional of any kind and am not qualified to give you medical advice. My goal is to help to educate and inspire you to take responsibility for your own family’s health and make informed choices of your own, not to consult you on medical treatment.

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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Comments

  1. Shellie Sue says:

    As I was sitting in a college lecture one day given by a Dr. Kim who is an Oncologist and also Anatomy Professor, he told the class the reason why women live longer lives than men is because we bleed. He says, because women have menstrual cycles and lose blood their iron is much lower than males. He also said too much iron is bad for a person and women were essentially blessed because their bodies were made to live longer by shedding iron. I also know that if a person has too much metal in their bodies, a healthy apple or two can help rid the body of those metals; it’s called chelation. Moderation is key and our bodies send off natural signals to what it may need by cravings. Just my theory as too much of a good thing can almost be as bad as too much of a bad thing.

  2. I also wanna make some herbal tincture for own use.

  3. These are excellent herbs to choose! However, the reason you’d pay so much more for a bottle of “high quality tincture” is because it would be made with FRESH herbs. It is actually quite important to use fresh herbs for tinctures unless you are making a tincture with a dried root or similar. Also, a high quality tincture would be infused for 6 weeks, not heated. This is another quality issue. Another problem is that glycerin creates a much much weaker tincture than alcohol. So all of this combined (glycerin, dried herbs, heating), leaves me doubtful of the potency of this tincture method (sorry!). I’d recommend anyone relying on this for an herbal supplement to be weary about the issue of using dried herbs, glycerin, and heating.

  4. Tanya Biliski says:

    I’ve made a few tinctures but one of my favourites, isn’t even one I use internally mostly. It’s comfrey, for the injuries to my knees over the years which ended up proving to show useful for many others. I also like doing up Lavender extracts for cooking. Yarrow tincture for calming and a few more. They really are so useful and so easy to store. I can thank my grandma for that knowledge.

  5. Stephanie – would you say this tincture would be safe for pregnant women? A friend of mine can’t keep pre-natal vitamins – or much else – down and is looking for a pregnancy-safe tincture. Thanks!
    Jennifer

  6. Stephanie, thank you *so* much for all the things we’re learning to make this month on your blog. I am making an immune boosting tincture right now and have lots of other things in the works that I’ve just learned from your blog. My question is- how much would you recommend giving to children once you’ve made a tincture such as these. It seems like once a long time ago you recommended a book that had really helped you get your start working with herbs but I have no idea how to find that. Thanks so much! So thankful to be learning from some of you women online that are seeking Christ in you life and also desire to nourish and care for you family in ways like this!

  7. Great stuff! I’ll definitely use this in the future. As of now, I’m having a hard time deciding on how I’ll be able to sweeten, prolong shelf life and thicken the consistency to syrup like of liquid CGF (only has 7 days shelf life). My 3 kids won’t take them because it taste like salted fish. Please help. Thanks

  8. I’ve been wanting to do this, but I’m a little hesitant. There’s so much to know about herbs and I want to make sure I’m getting the right amount of nutrients for nursing my baby. Where do you start?!

  9. You break down the steps so well, Stephanie. I remember how difficult it was for me to get started with tinctures years ago. I think I read through several books before I really got it. I used the longer method before I read about Shoshana’s quick method in Making Babies. It’s nice to know you can speed up the process if you need something in a few days! I use alcohol sometimes and glycerin others. Alcohol is supposed to extract more from the herbs, but it’s HARD to take, especially for children!
    Alfalfa is one of my favorite herbs, so high in minerals we can’t get elsewhere. I agree with you on wanting to add that. You could make up a tincture of alfalfa by itself and add it to this one. Just a thought. You have a great combination here! Good idea to combine several recipes.

  10. This looks great, Stephanie! I have the Making Babies book and have been wanting to try this as well. (But I haven’t yet!)

  11. I just finished cooking up some double E immune booster tincture from the Bulk Herb Store. Mine have been done since yesterday and as much as I’d love to see how much they yielded I have been so busy with other things that I’ve hardly had time to think about them. But that’s okay I won’t need them till winter time.

    This time I mixed the glycerin with vodka. I’m interested to see how they turned out as I’ve only ever made a tincture with one or the other before.

    Loved all your pictures. Great job!

    ~Cinnamon

  12. You will need to get your vitamin D from another source, and sunlight may not be enough, depending on your latitude. One small study indicated that nursing mothers taking 6,000iu of D3 daily, were giving their breastfeed babies as much as if their babies were being supplemented directly. A blood test is the only way to find what a current D3 level is, in order to find out what level of supllemetation is appropriate for an individual’s best health status.

  13. I think its great that you tried this. HOWEVER, herbs should never be measured by cup, spoon, etc. they should always be measured by weight. 1 cup of a particular herb could be MUCH more potent than a cup of another type of herb. You won’t know the proper dosages and potency unless measuring by weight. Herbalists with good training will tell you this. Just want to mention this since it is a safety concern.

  14. Love your post and I can’t wait to try it. How would you store the tinctures and how long do you think they would keep?

  15. I have my “per-natal vitamin” tincture brewing on the counter right now. I followed Modern Alternative Mama’s method/recipe. It used a lot less herbs, so it was less money. I am wondering if you can use less when it steeps longer?? It will be going for 6 weeks. It won’t be ready until early November and I will be 25 weeks along already, but better late than never! I am interested in Wednesday’s post! Thanks!

  16. Thanks for this wonderful article and recipe! I am going to give it a try in the very near future. How long does the tincture last once it is done? Does it need refrigerated?

  17. I was wondering if there is a method to do this without a crock pot. not only do i not own one or have the money for one, but i am resistant to buying one (don’t ask. cultural.) but i would love to make tinctures. thanks.

    • Yes, there is another way. You can do it for a longer period of time in a sunny window (as in, 2-4 weeks) and you can also just so it on the counter (again, it takes weeks) using alcohol like vodka instead of the glycerin. Look for Wednesdays post. You’ll see how Natalie does this longer process using large jars and her windowsill.

  18. Hello! I was wondering, if you had the alfalfa, how much would you have added. I’ve been looking into tinctures myself and the combinations that people come up with are a really good starting point for me. Thanks!

  19. I am eager to try this. Would it be fine for the children to take, as well? They are 16, 12 and 3. It is mainly the 3 yr old that I question about. However, it is also the 3 yr old that I am trying to get more nutrients in to help with the decay on her teeth.

    • You know, I really can’t think of any of the ingredients that would make me worried about giving it to a child. Again, I’m not a herbalist, so please don’t take my word for it. I think I personally would probably let my kids have it, although I specifically made it as more of a women’s formula. I’d have to double check about the red raspberry leaf and if it would have any hormonal affect on a child. That’s the only one that stands out to me as a concern.

  20. How long do you suppose that the batch that you made will last you? If it takes 3 days to produce that amount, and you take 2-4 dropperfulls every day, I wouldn’t think it would last very long (even less time if more than one person is using it); you could be making the tincture every 10 days or so. If that’s the case, by trial and error, one could double or triple the quantity made at any time to make a larger batch, correct? I’m new to herbs and tinctures so I suppose the bottom line of my question is: how long will this keep? Thanks so much for these tutorials. I am so pleased that I stumbled upon this site! God bless! :)

  21. I am currently making my first tincture. I am just using echinacea right now – extracting it in alcohol. It’s been going for 4 weeks and I’ve dipped into it a few times already. But, I plan on letting it go for a couple more weeks before I strain it. There have been a couple times when I hear my family start coughing or sniffling and I promptly give them a dropper full. It stops whatever was trying to start and they feel better that day.

    I want to make a few more tinctures to have on hand. I love this idea of one to supply vitamins and minerals. I’ll definitely be adding this to my list!

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