Are you just dipping your toe into the world of tinctures? Have you seen a cannabis tincture work its magic and now are intrigued by the potential of other herbal tincture recipes? If so, you’re in the right place! This beginners guide to herbal tinctures will cover the basics so you can feel confident exploring the different types of medicine you can create at home.

A picture of a tincture bottle and herbs with a title that says Beginner’s Guide to Herbal Tinctures.


  • A basic introduction to the concept of tinctures
  • Why its preferred and OK to use alcohol for the process
  • What you will need to make a tincture at home with any herb you wish

Why You Will Love This Guide 

If you’re like me and other members of my Well With Cannabis Community, making a cannabis tincture was the first introduction to tincture making. 

In fact, I was so zoned in on the “cannabis” part, that I didn’t even stop to understand the history and the significance behind the “tincture” part of the process.

I didn’t realize this was one of the most common ways to make herbal medicine up until the early 1900s, or that this method can still be used today to make your own herbal tinctures at home.

I also didn’t realize that we all have a common modern-day form of a tincture sitting in our kitchen cabinets – vanilla extract. 

As my understanding of the power of the cannabis plant has grown, so has my desire to learn more about other medicinal herbs. 

In this guide, you will learn everything there is to know about making alcohol tinctures and herbal extracts at home, the benefits of tinctures, and get my favorite herbal tincture recipes to get you started – cannabis and beyond.  

What is a Tincture? 

A tincture is a mixture of herbal material and a solvent.

Tinctures can be made with a variety of different solvents including alcohol, vinegar, honey, or glycerine. 

There are different names for all the different types of tinctures:

  1. Alcohol tincture = Extract
  2. Glycerine tincture = Glycerite
  3. Honey + vinegar tincture = Oxymel

The most common method for tincture making is to use alcohol to make an extract. Alcohol helps to capture and concentrate, or extract, the desired constituents of the herbs. 

Constituents is the word used to describe the properties responsible for the medicinal action of plants. 

Common active constituents include vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, cannabinoids, terpenes, and more.

Basically, by soaking your desired herbs in alcohol, you are creating an extract that contains the medicinal benefits of that herb.

The final product is an easy way to consume your chosen plant medicine in small doses.

If you do not like the thought of using alcohol, you can opt to make tea or an oil infusion instead.

Tincture Benefits

  • Relatively easy to make
  • Easily absorbed by the body 
  • Extract a wide range of constituents 
  • Effective in small amounts because they are concentrated
  • Can be very potent, so use caution when consuming
  • General dosage ranges from a few drops to 1 tablespoon
  • Once prepared, different tinctures can easily be mixed together

What You’ll Need 

The ingredients needed to make an herbal tincture.

The beauty of making your own tinctures at home is that you are in control of what and how much of each ingredient you put in. 

In most cases, choosing home grown, locally sourced, or organic herbs is best. 

This also means you control how strong you want your tincture to be.

Remember, the ratio of the herbs to liquid determines the strength of the tincture. 

The more herbs you use, and the less liquid you use, the more portent your final product will be.

Fresh vs. Dried Herbs

It is your choice whether you want to use fresh or dried herbs for your tincture, as each herb has a different purpose and use. 

Drying can be as simple as leaving your fresh herbs in a brown paper bag for a few days and allowing the plant to naturally wilt. 

This process removes excess moisture from the plant material and helps to preserve the plant for long-term use or storage. 

Once completely dry, the herbs can be stored in a glass container in a dark place. 

Some plants, like St. John’s Wort, can be taken right from the herb garden and made into a tincture using fresh material. 

Other plants, like cannabis, produce a better final outcome when a tincture is made with dried material. 

It is important to note that dry herbs are more potent, or concentrated, than fresh plants, meaning you may be able to use less. 

It’s also important to make sure you are working with the right parts of a plant, as different parts of the plant can serve different medicinal purposes.

For example, making a cannabis tincture with flower buds will have a much different (intoxicating) outcome than making a cannabis tincture with roots

A picture of several different herbs in both a fresh and dried variety.


Water is the enemy of most herbal preparations. It can cause mold, severely reduce the shelf life, and reduce the medicinal effect of the tincture.

How Much to Use

When it comes to preparing an herbal tincture, there are two ways to approach deciding how much to use.

The first approach is called the Folk Method. In this method, you simply add your desired amount of herbs to a jar and cover with alcohol – no measuring involved.

The second approach involves weighing the herbs and alcohol, or at least sticking to a ratio.

From the popular herbalism book, Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, Rodale’s recommendation is to combine 4 ounces of powdered or finely cut herb with 1 pint of spirits in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. 

In another herbalism book, Herbal Remedies Handbook, they recommend 1 part herb material to 3 parts water or alcohol in a 1:3 ratio.

When making a cannabis tincture, I recommend weighing the amount of cannabis in grams and then only using as much alcohol as needed to cover the surface area of the plant material.

As you progress on your herbalism journey, you will develop your own preferred methods of measurement with time and experimentation.

A picture of a tincture bottle and herbs


Using an alcohol base for your tincture is the most effective way to extract the active ingredients of the plant and preserve them for a long period of time. 

The type of alcohol recommended will vary based on the herb you are working with and the constituents you wish to gain during the extraction process.

When shopping for alcohol, know that the alcohol content of a product can range from 25-90% alcohol, with the remainder being water content.

A more gentle alcohol, like 80-proof vodka, is suitable for delicate herbs like chamomile.

A more potent alcohol, like high-proof alcohol, is suitable for herbs like cannabis which contain cannabinoids to be extracted. 

When shopping for alcohol:

  • ALWAYS use food-grade alcohol like high proof ethyl alcohol, 151 rum, vodka, gin, brandy
  • NEVER use rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, methyl alcohol or wood alcohol. These are toxic if ingested.

Learn where you can purchase high-proof alcohol here. 

A tincture bottle sitting on a counter with fresh and dried herbs.

Helpful Tip:

Sometimes, a combination of both alcohol and water are used as the liquid base. This is to obtain both the water-soluble and non-water-soluble constituents. However, alcohol under 200-proof already contains water, so you do not need to add more.


The beauty of making a tincture at home is that it is very simple and does not require any fancy equipment.

In fact, almost everything can be found at home or in your favorite local stores. 

The following supplies are needed or helpful to make a tincture:

A four step image collage showing how to make an herbal tincture.
A four step image collage showing how to make an herbal tincture.
A picture of a tincture bottle and herbs

How to Make a Basic Herbal Tincture

4.67 from 3 votes
Are you ready to make your own herbal tincture at home? It is surprisingly easy! Discover how easy it is to make an alcohol-based tincture with your favorite herbs at home.

What You Need  


  • If you haven't already, dry your herbs, unless you're following a recipe that specifically calls for fresh herbs. If you're choosing to measure ingredients, weigh out one ounce of dried herbs.
  • Place the dried herbs in a pint-sized mason jar.
  • Pour your desired amount of alcohol over the herbs. If you're following the Folk Method, you only need to add enough alcohol to completely cover the plant matter. Screw the lid on tightly and shake gently.
  • Place the jar in a cool, dark location like a cupboard, and leave it to infuse for anywhere from 24-hours to 6 months. See notes for timing. Shake occasionally.
  • After your tincture has been left to sit for your desired amount of time, it is time to separate the plant material from the infused alcohol. You can use a fine mesh strainer to strain off the alcohol into another clean jar. 
  • Alternatively, you could securely attach a piece of cheesecloth to the mouth of the jar and strain the liquid into a new, clean jar or tincture bottles. 
  • After straining, some people help the leftover plant matter to be re-used in other recipes, like homemade soap. Discover all of the ways to use the leftover plant material from a tincture here. 
  • You now have an herbal tincture. You can choose to evaporate off some or all of the alcohol now, if desired.
  • It is recommended to move this tincture into a dark jar, if possible. Store your final tincture in a dark bottle in a cool, dark space.


Starting amount: You do not need to use the full 1/2 ounce (14 grams) of herbs called for in this recipe. You can use as much or as little as you want. For a small, starter batch, start with just 3.5 grams.
How long to soak? I’ve seen traditional, long-soak tinctures steep anywhere between a few days to up to 6 months, or longer, in some cases. Rodales Recommendation is to shake a tincture several times daily over a 2 week period before straining. 
Reduce the burn: If you want to reduce some of the alcohol to concentrate the potency, follow this guide for how to safely evaporate the alcohol from a tincture. 


Serving: 1ounce, Calories: 65kcal, Sodium: 1mg, Potassium: 1mg, Iron: 1mg
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Storage Instructions 

It is best to store your finished tincture in a glass container in a cool, dry place. 

Dark glass bottles are preferred because they block any light which may affect the potency of the tincture. 

I love to use amber dropper bottles like this because they are dark and typically come with a measured dropper.

This makes it easier to dose homemade tinctures.

Property prepared tinctures have a long shelf life and can keep well for three years or more if stored properly.

Do your best to avoid heat, light, water and other contaminants.

A picture of a tincture bottle and herbs.

How To Use A Tincture

Once prepared, a tincture can be used in various ways, from recipes and edibles to topical preparations. 

The most common way to use a tincture is to place a few drops under the tongue for sublingual absorption

You may need to evaporate some of the alcohol to make this a comfortable experience. 

You can also add a few drops of a tincture to your favorite drink or recipe.

This is a great way to reap the plant medicine without any discomfort. 

Learn more about how to use a marijuana tincture here. 

A picture of a hand holding the top to a tincture bottle dropper.

Herbal Tincture Recipes

Echinacea Tincture

Echinacea, one of the most popular medicinal herbs, affects the body’s immune system.

An echinacea root tincture is often used at the onset of minor illnesses, such as the common cold, to prevent or shorten the duration of the illness.

An echinacea tincture is also used as a sore throat spray.

Chamomile Tincture

Chamomile is a traditional remedy for sleeplessness and headaches, and is often used to relieve stress.

Chamomile tincture is also used to lessen pain, including the pain of menstrual cramps and headaches.

Lavender Tincture

Like chamomile, lavender is a natural stress-reliever that is used to relieve and enhance feelings of well-being.

Lavender promotes restful sleep and promotes relaxation during times of stress.

Calendula Tincture

Calendula tincture is applied topically to minor cuts and scrapes to promote fast healing.

The tincture can be applied directly to the wound, or added to a cream-based salve.

Rosemary Tincture

Rosemary tincture contains antioxidants and helps reduce inflammation in the body.

Used internally, rosemary helps eliminate free radicals, reduces restlessness and promotes restful sleep.

Rosemary tincture also reduces the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.

Peppermint Tincture

Peppermint tincture is a useful addition to the medicine cabinet, as the herb is used to treat indigestion and other common stomach ailments.

Peppermint tincture is also applied topically to treat mild headaches, and relieves minor muscle aches when applied topically.

Lemon Balm Tincture

Traditionally, lemon balm tincture is used to treat depression, and is thought to relieve stress and enhance feelings of well-being.

Lemon balm is an antiviral that is used to treat viral infections, including cold sores, and to treat the flu and other viral illnesses.

Several tincture bottles sitting on a counter.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I can not have alcohol?

This is a great question and perfectly understandable. If you cannot have alcohol, know that there are many other types of herbal remedy preparations. From herbal tea to essential oils to oil infusions, there are certainly other ways to capture the medicinal properties of different herbs without the use of alcohol.

How do I make a vinegar or vegetable glycerin tincture?

I have not tried this myself, but simply swap your choice of vinegar, like white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, or glycerine in place of alcohol. 

Is a tincture safe for internal use?

As always, please consult your doctor or other qualified medical professional. For the purpose of this guide, we are only recommending herbal tinctures for oral use. 

Will a tincture make me drunk?

One concern many people have when using alcohol-based tinctures is how the alcohol will affect them. If you are using just a very small amount, it is unlikely you will feel the effect or experience and adverse reactions from consuming the alcohol. Think of using vanilla extract, just a few drops is enough to use, without consuming too much.

I can’t handle the burn! What can I do?

We totally understand, the burn is unplesant to say the least. Even a little bit under the tongue can be uncomfortable. We have several different ways you can reduce the amount of alcohol from a tincture outlined here. One of the easiest ways to dilute your tincture is to place a few drops in a cup of hot water or tea. The warm water liquid will naturally evaporate the alcohol.  


That’s it – everything you need to know about making the best tincture at home!

Taking the time to make your own herbal tinctures is a great way to preserve the medicinal qualities of specific herbs and begin to create your own medicinal apothecary at home.

I hope this guide leaves you filled with positive energy and excitement to go out and create.

Remember, there is no one best way to make a tincture or make your own medicine, so be patient, keep experimenting, and do what works best for you!

Have you ever made your own herbal tinctures at home? What do you like to keep on hand? Let me know in the comments below!

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About Emily

Hi, I’m Emily Kyle and I teach people just like you how to use cannabis to find joy, enhance productivity, improve relationships, and naturally support your overall health and wellness.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I love tinctures and have made a lot on your list. I made an antibiotic one that contains ginger, rosemary and garlic. It tastes surprisingly good too. Thanks for this information!

  2. Wow! I’ve been looking for some information like this! It also seems like tinctures could be a replacement for essential oils!
    Do you always keep the garlic tincture premade or just make it when you need it, since it needs to be discarded after a week?

  3. Yes, I make Tinctures. I started experimenting using Echinachea Plus Tea by Traditional Medicinal.

    My go to live without one tincture I have to have to survive is Stinging Nettle and Horseradish Tincture for allergies.

    I am allergic to antihistamines. NSAIDS, PPI or Proton Pump Inhibitors, (the acid stopping drug). Many others as well.

    I am now expanding to add Ginger, Turmeric, Peppermint, Chamomile, Horseradish Root fresh Tincture. I usually buy a lb of Dried Horseradish Root from Swansons online. I also buy bulk herbs from Starewest. Great prices. I also buy bulk herbs local at Community Market in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol.

    Tincture are my basic self treatment or Medical Advocacy for myself.

  4. Instead of a garlic tinture. try minced garlic and honey mixed together. I take it every morning. Start out with a small amount. Some people says it bothers their stomach. I take about 1/2t to 1t every day. Great immune booster

  5. 5 stars
    I love this, you make it so easy to understand.ive been making tinctures for a long time now but just recently with cannabis, mostly for the pain and aging so this is rightbup my alley. Can’t wait to see the valarian one

  6. Hi Bj. Thank you so much for the kind words! We’re thrilled to hear that you’ve found our guide easy to understand and helpful in your journey with herbal tinctures. Cannabis tinctures can be a game-changer, especially when it comes to managing pain and aging. The beauty of these tinctures is the ability to customize them to suit individual needs, and I’m glad you’re exploring this path.

    The valerian tincture guide is coming up soon! Valerian is renowned for its calming properties and I’m excited for you to discover how to make and use this beneficial tincture at home. Every drop is a step towards better health and wellness. Happy tincture-making!

  7. Hi Ed. Absolutely! Making tinctures without using alcohol is indeed possible and can be a great alternative for those who prefer to avoid alcohol or have specific dietary restrictions. We recommend a MCT oil tincture, which you can find the recipe here: Easy Cannabis-Infused MCT Oil Tincture. I hope this helps!