Herbal Tincture How To - Straining and Bottling
The Final Process
Gather the following items:
- Tincture mixture that has been infusing for 3-6 weeks (see how to do that part in this post)
- Clean muslin cloth (or unbleached coffee filters)
- Beaker or glass container
- Bottle for your finished product
- Label for the bottle
Start by ensuring all of your equipment is clean and sterile. Even though a tincture is alcohol-based, it is always a good idea to start and finish with clean equipment in a clean environment.
Prepare to Strain
Line the funnel with a double layer of muslin. The double layer will help keep any sediment from the herbs from slipping through. If you prefer to use coffee filters, use unbleached filters and double up so you are straining through 2 layers.
TIP: Strain into a container that is easy to pour from. You will be pouring directly from this container into your final bottle. I like the precision of the spout on my beakers, but any glass pitcher with a spout will do.
Here's Why: After having to discard one tincture after the other due to unwanted sediment, I learned straining directly into the bottle wasn't optimal. Straining into a glass container allows for a visual check before bottling. Should any sediment slip through, it's a snap to re-filter the liquid.
Speaking of Sediment
Here's my best tip for a completely sediment-free tincture: Let the liquid drip through the plant material on its own.
If you don't want to experience little bits floating around in your final product (and gumming up the nozzle if it's added to a spray-on product), then don't even think about pressing down on the plant material – banish the thought of squeezing out those last drops!
I know it's hard. I know it's really tempting to get every last bit of liquid, but you're just going to have to fight it or forever live with float-y sediment-y bits in your tincture.
Unless the plant material is really really dense..
I recently did a chamomile tincture where the remaining plant material was so dense it kept holding on to a good portion of liquid. I had to squeeze the mixture to extract the liquid. In cases such as these, you'll want to don latex gloves and filter the mixture twice in order to enjoy a sediment-free tincture.
The Spent Material
Here is the spent mallow after straining next to a few of the (original) dried flowers. The deep purple color it started out with has left the plant material and become part of the tincture.
For optimal conditions, pour your tincture into a dark glass bottle with a tight-fitting cap.
TIP: As a general rule, try to avoid keeping tinctures that will be stored over a long period of time (over 3 months) in plastic containers. I've had a few tinctures change scent over time when stored in plastic bottles. Tincture scents shouldn't change.
My theory as to why: the mixture reacted somehow with the plastic. Mind you, it may not have meant anything, but a changed tincture scent is enough to put me in doubt.
My cosmetics ingredients (and food) mantra: if in doubt – throw it out.
Finally, add a label to the bottle with the name of your tincture. Be sure to add the date as well. You may think you're going to remember when you made it, but you won't. Honest. You really won't.
My date-label isn't visible above because I always place mine separately on the bottom of my bottles.
Some uses for tinctures - both internal and external
Do you make tinctures? What do you use them for?