How To Make Your Own Herbal Tincture

This is so easy you're going to laugh. Go ahead - you may as well start now.

It takes a bare minimum of ingredients and just a little patience to make your own alcohol-based herbal tinctures. We'll be looking at different tincture uses in upcoming posts, but for now, let's start a batch!

Although you can mix and match herbs any way you want in your tincture, I personally prefer making a separate one for each herb, and then mixing and matching the resulting tinctures.


Ethanol Alcohol / Vodka (80 proof)
Dried herbs


Glass jar with airtight closure
Small dark bottles with tight lid for your tincture


Make sure all your containers are both clean and sanitized prior to use.
Fill the container with dried herbs to 3/4 full
Add alcohol
Place in a cool, dark area (a cupboard shelf is great)
Leave for 2-3 weeks (agitate the jar daily)
Strain through coffee filter or double layer of cheesecloth

How Long Does an Alcohol-based Tincture Last?

A tincture can last up to 2 years depending on the herbs and the proof of the alcohol (at least 40% is recommended).

What Can I Use it For?

There are dozens of possibilities! Everything from home remedy sore throat solutions to topical use is possible – it all depends on the characteristics and properties of the herb used. The tincture in the above photo is going to be incorporated into a new skin tonic idea I've been working on. The herb I'm using is mallow (upcoming blog post on that soon).

Here are a few classic herbs with great tincture potential:
Chamomile flowers
Calendula (Marigold)

Stay tuned for more tincture fun!

Do Tell

Have you ever made a tincture? What did you use it for?

Read this post for tips on straining and bottling your tincture


Thanks for the recipe. Will definitely try making this. Quick question- how can one tell if the tincture has gone bad, or will no longer be effective?
LisaLise said…
Hi Stephanie,
A tincture will 'loose power' over time and it is a gradual process. Even though they can last up to 5 years, I have never used one older than 2 years. If you do the 'nose test' of a 2-year-old tincture next to a freshly made one, the difference will be evident. As to going bad, your nose is a good indicator for this as well. Truth be told, I've never had a tincture go bad.
Zan said…
Hi Lise!

I'm planning to make herb tincture for external use. Can I use rubbing alcohol instead of vodka? Hope to get some reply. Thanks! :)

LisaLise said…
Hi Zan - Rubbing alcohol is not a good idea.This is going to dry and irritate the skin Is there some reason you don't want to use vodka? You could also use a brandy. Or even apple cider vinegar as an alternative? Let me know what the end use is going to be and maybe I can give you some more suggestions.
Zan said…
Hi Lise.

Thanks for your response. The reason that I can't use vodka is because it is illegal for a Muslim like me to buy drinking alcohol in my country (Malaysia). However, I am currently pursuing my study in Australia and I can't find Everclear here (I guess it is illegal or something).

I'm planning to use the tincture as and additive in my skin tonic/skin refresher spray. I guess if I can use apple cider vinegar, that's good enough for me :)

LisaLise said…
HI Zan - No worries - your tincture made with white vinegar or apple cider vinegar will be equally effective. Have fun with it, and do let me know how it goes!
Hey lise I am just wondering can you explain a little more on how to tell if you're tinctures have gone bad like examples what will they look like etc key signs because mine just smell of the herbs and alcohol I made them back in July / August hasn't been a year yet

Thank you
LisaLise said…
Hey there Allanag92 - This is a good question. To be quite honest, I've don't believe I've ever heard of a tincture going bad, nor have I experienced it myself (and I have some tinctures up to 8 years old still in stock). If you used dried herbs and 80-proof alcohol, you are looking at up to 5 years of 'life' in your tincture. My best advice to you is to do the regular 'nose test' and if the scent changes (trust me, you will notice), then consider dumping it.
Laura Smith said…
I'm extremely nee to tinctures and there is information I can't seem to find. We made all kinds of herb tinctures using 80 proof Jenkins vodka. The two we filtered and bottled today were Hot & Spicy Oregano and Thyme. I've never used tinctures so I have zero experience with them.
Is it normal/natural for the to smell like I dunno fermented plants? They don't smell like herbs to me. They smell like decomposing plant matter though. Got a headache bottling them. I plan to use some myself and gift the rest. I don't want to give anything that isn't safe to friends nor do I want to consume anything that isn't safe for me. How do I know if the powerful smell is just powerful medicine or something gone wrong?
LisaLise said…
Hi Laura, From your description it does sound like something isn't right.

I can only guess at possible causes:
1. The herbs you used were somehow contaminated
2. The mixture was not agitated regularly
3. The percentage of herbs to liquid was not ideal
4. the containers were not sanitized
5. The mixture received too much heat/air

There are more possibilities, so without knowing your exact process, it is hard for me to give you any real useful advice. The fact that you got a headache just from bottling them sounds very worrying. I would probably discard everything and start again. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it's probably a better choice than using something that will make you ill. Best of luck with it!
ksd said…
Hi Lisa and thanks for your Treasure Trove aka Blog. :D
Is it ok to use grain alcohol (100% proof) instead of 80% since that is the only thing I can find where I live?
LisaLise said…
Hi ksd - that should be fine - go for it!
Unknown said…
Hi Lise, I an extremely excited after I saw that you can make tinctures using apple cider instead of alcohol (I formulate for rosacea so alcohol is a big NO).
I want to use powdered extracts of licorice, green tea and horse chestnut (3 separate not together), my question is what would the proportion be in this case, still the same or less herbs?

Thank you for your help and your wonderful site :)
LisaLise said…
Hi unknown - thanks for your input. Using a powder to infuse into vinegar is a titch tricky and may require a few small test batches tbefore you know how much swelling you get from each powder. You'll need some good filtering equipment and patience when you're tincture is ready for straining. As for proportions: you will have to try out a few batches to see what works best for each herb, but try starting with 1:4 parts herb powder to liquid. Best of luck with it!
Unknown said…
thank you, I will try...what would be the % in a leave on topical product afterwards, 1%?
LisaLise said…
Hi Unknown - this depends on which percentage of ingredient to solvent you end up using. :)
Unknown said…
Hi, to a country which forbids alcohol drink and very limited alcohol brands and composition. What alcohol will you be recommending? And i just read one post that vinegar can be used in making tincture. What are your thoughts on it? Thank you
LisaLise said…
Hi Unknown - tinctures can also be made using vinegar. To use alcohol, you'l be wanting 95% ethanol (you can also use perfumers alcohol which is very similar)
Anonymous said…
Hi Lise,

Very useful blog. Thanks
I do have question on possible solvents for tincture.
Can Isopropyl Alcohol 99% be used for tincture extraction,, if not to be used for oral consumption. If yes, can this be used in emulsions?
What’s your suggestion for intermediate method. Alcohol and then oil?
LisaLise said…
Hi Reynu
I can't recommend using isopropyl alcohol for tinctures. To demonstrate why, may I suggest you make a very small batch and see what you think? As top the intermediate method, a minimum of 96% ethanol is recommended.
Anonymous said…
Thanks Lise, yes I did try with isopropyl Alcohol and it smells very strong of alcohol, wasn’t sure if it was right for using, that’s why asked

LisaLise said…
Hi Bri Renyu - Now you know why ☺️