Herbal Tincture Recipe for Aromatherapy and Skin Care
This photo shows the visual difference between tinctures made from fresh and dried herbs. The mason jar contains a tincture that I made using dried lavender buds. The large vial on the left contains tincture that I made using fresh lavender. The small vial on the right contains a tincture that I made using dried chamomile.
Each year, I grow a variety of herbs for culinary, aromatherapy and skin care use. I'm gearing up for summer and once again having lots of fresh herbs on hand.
I enjoy using room mists, linen sprays and body sprays. They're inexpensive and a great way to easily enjoy aromatherapy and natural plant based aromatics on a daily basis. See the categorized listing of recipes in AromaWeb's Recipe Box for recipe ideas. I sometimes use homemade liquid herbal tinctures in place of some of the alcohol or water that a recipe calls for to naturally fragrance my sprays and mists. Properly stored herbal tinctures last indefinitely and are a wonderful way to enjoy the aromatic and therapeutic benefits of the herbs I grow year round. Dried herbs can also be used and usually result in an even more concentrated extract.
I use herbal tinctures primarily for topical/room fragrancing applications. Google herbal tinctures or herbal extracts for details on other ways that you can use them.
Ingredients, Packaging & Supplies
- Air tight, sterilized glass containers
- Enough chopped fresh herbs to fill each container halfway
- Dried herbs can be used instead to make more concentrated herbal tinctures
- High proof vodka. Everclear can also be used if it is legally available for purchase in your locale.
- Cheesecloth or a fine grade strainer
- Chop your fresh herbs so that they naturally begin to release their aromatic oils.
- Place your herbs in each container using the measuring guidelines shown above.
- Fill with alcohol. Allow enough room at the top to ensure that there is room for the alcohol and herbs to mix well when shaken.
- Store in a cool, dry, dark area. Shake each container at least once per day for 30 days. Strain the tincture with layered cheesecloth or a fine grade strainer.
The tincture can be used at this stage, but you will achieve a more concentrated and aromatic tincture if you repeat the process by adding more fresh or dried herbs and again shaking each container once per day for 30 days. Once again, strain the herbs from the tincture. Your tincture is now ready to use in your room mist, body spray, linen spray and facial toner recipes. See the categorized listing of recipes in AromaWeb's Recipe Box for recipe ideas.
What is the Difference Between a Tincture and an Extract?
The terms are often used interchangeably. An herbal extract generally refers to both powdered and liquid herbal concentrates. A tincture is a liquid herbal extract made with alcohol as the solvent. Glycerin can be used as the solvent in place of alcohol. Glycerin based tinctures, however, do not last indefinitely and are not as convenient for use in personal care applications. Glycerin based tinctures, are best suited for use in personal care applications that normally work well with glycerin as an ingredient (i.e. salt/sugar scrubs and mouth rinses).
Be sure to stick to herbs that are known to be safe for use in the applications that you want to use them in. AromaWeb's list of Hazardous Essential Oils will give you an indication of which herbs are best avoided in personal care. AromaWeb's selection of over 100 individual Essential Oil Profiles can act as a starting point to help act as a guide to which tinctures you should avoid or limit your use of. Since AromaWeb/AromaTalk focuses upon the use of essential oils and not herbal tinctures, I recommend that you do added research regarding the type of herbal tincture that you want to make and searching for additional safety information applying to the specific tincture.
Isn't There a Trend Towards Limiting Products that Contain Alcohol?
Absolutely. Alcohol can be especially drying to the skin, and should be mindfully used. I have oily skin and I'm able to tolerate products that contain reasonable amount of alcohol. The type of alcohol used in products matters. If denatured alcohol is used, the ingredients used to make the alcohol unfit for consumption can potentially be harmful when used on the skin. Plus, the aroma of denatured alcohol will interfere with the aroma of your natural aromatics. In oral care products, studies seem to indicate that products that contain more than a small amount of alcohol can significantly increase the chances for a variety of oral cancers. The choice is yours. I personally avoid all oral care products that contain alcohol. I do use skin care and home fragrancing products that I make with my herbal tinctures. I occasionally will purchase household or skin care products that contain limited quantities of alcohol from quality-conscious artisans/small manufacturers. I use these products in moderation.
Do You Need the Ingredients Listed in This Recipe?
You can find the essential oils, other ingredients and packaging that you need by patronizing the fine companies that support AromaWeb with their banner advertising located throughout AromaWeb (See them all at a glance within the Advertiser Spotlight area) and the listings located within the Global and Regional Aromatherapy Business Directories. Many of AromaWeb's advertisers also expertly formulate their own ready-made products if you decide you'd rather not make aromatherapy products yourself.
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