Mother Earth Living

Herbal Apothecary 101: Distillates, Hydrosols and Tinctures

By Susan Belsinger and Tina Marie Wilcox
June/July 2009
Add to My MSN

Health made simple: A few herbs and you in your kitchen, preparing medicines with simple techniques as ancient as time.

Content Tools

Related Content

The Flowers of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Flowering herbs have a long history of medicinal use across the world: Discover seven components of ...

In The News: Practical Evidence of Ancient Herbal Medicine

The discovery of medicinal pills onboard an ancient Italian merchant ship lends credence to the hist...

Herbal Apothecary 101: Medicinal Syrups

An intermediate guide to apothecary medicinal syrups.

A Spring Terrarium: Grow Grass in a Day

Bring some spring into your life. Sprinkle some wheat grass seeds in an old apothecary jar and watch...

Distillates and hydrosols: the aromatic liquids that remain after essential oils have been distilled from plants.

We use distillates in herbal preparations, in spritzers as a skin freshener, and if we are sure of the source (if we make them ourselves or know the maker), in culinary recipes and beverages. If the distillate is made with a non-culinary herb—for instance, clary sage—we do not ingest it.  

Tinctures: plant extracts preserved with diluted alcohol or glycerin.

The folk method for tincturing is to cover a single, powdered dried herb with 80-proof vodka or other spirits in a clean, labeled glass jar. Fresh, crushed plant material should be covered with 90-proof alcohol because the water contained in the fresh plant dilutes the tincture. The tincture is shaken twice daily. The herb macerates for two days to six weeks. The amount of time is determined by the texture of the herb (whether it is root, bark or leaf). Hard, dense plant material like roots and bark generally takes longer than dried leaves.

Susan Belsinger and Tina Marie Wilcox use herbs every day in and around their homes and greenhouses. Some of this article’s information and recipes are from their book The Creative Herbal Home (Herbspirit, 2007).

Click here for the original article,  Herbal Apothecary 101 .

Post a comment below.


Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.