Saturday, September 14, 2013

Herbal Tincture How To - Straining and Bottling


Straining and bottling a tincture is pretty straightforward stuff, but there are a couple of tips you might find useful, so I photographed my latest project and put together this step by step to show you how the mallow tincture that started out a few weeks back came out.


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
  • Funnel
  • 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.

Bottling
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.

Finishing Up
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.

Coming Soon
Some uses for tinctures - both internal and external

Do Tell
Do you make tinctures? What do you use them for?

4 comments:

Olympia Tsimplostefanaki said...

great tips! I have made a lot of tinctures and I use them as additives in my cosmetic preperations (no more than 2%, because they tend to be a little drying). They work very well in toners, since mostof them have astrigent function, due to the alkohol used. My favorite one is lavender, and I use it even in perfumes along with essential oils!

Lise M Andersen said...

Hi Olympia - this is great info! I agree that using more than 2% tincture in a skin tonic can be drying for the skin-- but keeping it at a low percentage gives the maximum benefit of the concentrate without drying. I have a lavender tincture on my to do list! Have you used any of your tinctures for internal use? In teas or such?

Eternity said...

Hi Lise,
Thanks for a very inspiring blog.
I have a question about Castor oil.
I know it's not the day's topic but I hope it's ok anyway.
I have heard it should be great on lashes and eye brows. Is it just because it's a thick oil so it's easy to use on lashes and eye brows or has Castor oil some properties other oils don't have for lashes and eye brows ?
I would use Castor oil or an alternative oil on lashes and eye brows to keep them healty and if possible give them growth.

Can Castor oil give growth or is it just because the lashes and brows get healty and then grow?

Thank you very much.
Kirsten V

I was unfortunately a little to late to participate in the giveaway, due to the time difference. I'm 8 hours behind DK. :-(



Lise M Andersen said...

Hi Eternity/Kirsten V . so sorry you missed the giveaway deadline! I will try and do another before too terribly long..

Meantime. you asked about castor oil and lashes. You are correct in that castor oil is good for hair and lashes. It is actually one of the ingredients in my lash conditioner (see the blog post here http://www.lisaliseblog.com/2013/08/lash-conditioning-tester-giveaway.html

Castor oil is quite conditioning for hair. It is a very slow absorbing oil that provides a protective layer helping to seal in moisture – which is its main advantage over other oils.

You can also use castor oil to cleanse the skin and it is an effective cleanser for this very reason. :)