Monday, November 23, 2009

How to make infusions, teas, decoctions,syrups, tinctures,oils ,salves and creams

As a continuation of the last post on herbs...


An infusion is made by adding boiling water over herbs and allowing the mixture to steep for several minutes before straining and drinking. Do not bring the infusion to a boil with the herbs in the container. Rather, pour the hot water over the herbs into a separate container for infusing. Use about ½ to 1 cup of fresh herbs for 2 ½ cups of water. Chamomile, mint, ginger, lemon balm, rose hips, and sage are easy to grow herbs that make refreshing and healthful teas.

Herbal Teas

Making herbal teas may be the easiest of all herbal remedies. Also known as a tisane, or infusion, Herbal teas can be made by simply adding fresh or dried herbs to a pot, or cup of boiling water. To begin, place 1 teaspoon of dried herbs, or 2-3 teaspoons of fresh herbs, per I cup of water into a teapot or teacup. Add boiling water, cover, and steep for 10 minutes. You must then strain your tea by pouring it through a strainer of some sort. There are multiple ways of doing this, and your own experimentation will prove most valuable.

Herbal Decoctions

Similar to an infusion, or tea, a decoction is necessary when you are making remedies from tough plant materials, such as roots, bark, seeds or stems. To begin, place thinly chopped plant material into a saucepan and add cold water. Use 1-2 teaspoons of fresh or dried herbs to one cup of water. Bring the decoction to a boil, simmer for 15 minutes, and strain after the liquid has been reduced by one half.

Dip cloth in the infusion or decoction, wring it out, and apply locally

Herbal Syrup

Herbal syrups are a good way to soothe sore throats and common respiratory ailments. Herbal syrups can be made by combining sugar, honey, or glycerin with tinctures, teas, infusions, and medicinal liquors. Syrups can be preserved by adding glycerin or refrigerating. 1. To begin, make a tea, decoction, or tincture, or infusion. 2. Combine selected herbal solution, and combine with honey in a saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. A typical syrup would have a ratio of approximately 1 cup of solution, to cup of honey or other sweetener. 3. Pour mixture into clean, dark bottles, let cool and cap with a cork stopper, or similar, non sealing lid. This will keep syrup from exploding if syrup begins to ferment. Keep refrigerated

Herbal Tincture
Herbal tinctures allow one to make a large herbal remedy and store for a longer period of time, making them available at a short notice to be used with teas, salves, creams, etc. to make an instant herbal remedy. Tinctures are made by steeping fresh or dried herbs in alcohol or vinegar. The liquid extracts the volatile oils and active constituents from the herbs, and preserves them for up to 2 years. Vodka is the best alcohol to use due to its tastelessness. 1. To begin, place cut up pieces of dried or fresh herbs in a large glass jar. 2. Cover herbs with enough alcohol or vinegar to fully immerse the herbs. Let steep at room temperature in a dark spot, shaking the jar daily. 3. After 2-4 weeks, strain the mixture through a fine cloth, paper coffee filter, or cheesecloth. 4. Pour the tincture into clean, dark bottles and store out of the sun until needed.

Infused Oils
Herbal oils are made by extracting the herbal constituents and volatile oils from the herbs for a later use. Any vegetable oil will do, yet olive, almond, canola, and sesame oils are the best. Herbal oils can be added to recipes, used for cooking, or massaged into sore body parts. Herbal oils can be infused by two methods; cold infusion and hot infusion. Cold Infused Oil 1. To begin, tightly fill a large sealable jar with selected herb flowers or leaves. 2. Cover herbs with selected oil and screw on lid. 3. Place jar on a sunny windowsill for approximately one month, shaking daily. 4. Strain the mixture into a container, and transfer into a dark bottle. 5. Place in a cool, dark place. Hot Infused Oil 1. To begin, place a ratio of 2 cups oil to 1 cup of dried herbs/ 2 cups fresh herbs, in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. 2. Slowly heat on low for approximately 3 hours, and strain into a bowl. 3. Transfer liquid into dark bottles, cap, and place in a cool, dark place.

Salves & Ointments
Salves and oils are made by combining heated oil with a particular herb until the oil absorbs the plants healing properties. Adding beeswax will thicken the mixture to the desired consistency. 1. To begin, pour 3-4 fl. Oz. Of desired infused oil into a glass bowl. 2. Place solution over a pot of boiling water. 3. Add a ?" square piece of beeswax to the solution, stirring constantly until the wax has completely melted. 4. Pour warm liquid into small dark ointment jars and store in a cool, dark place.


Creams are an emulsion of oil and a water soluble liquid, allowing the final product to be readily absorbed by the skin. The easiest way to make creams is to buy an emulsifying cream from the drugstore, and heat the desired herb plant material in it. 1. To begin, melt approximately 2 tablespoons of emulsifying cream in a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water. 2. Add one large tablespoon of dried herbs to the mixture, and stir slowly until the cream takes on the color of the herbs. 3. Remove from heat, strain, and squeeze the remaining liquid from the clump. 4. Let cream cool in a glass bowl, and spoon into small, dark bottles. 5. Store jars in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

Poultices are used to apply moist heat to draw or soothe. Fresh leaves of the particular herb called for is bruised and steeped in boiling water (only enough to moisten) for a short time. The leaves are then spread between two pieces of cloth and applied as hot as possible, then, covered with a dry cloth to retain heat. A second poultice is prepared while the first one is still being used. It is to replace the first poultice the moment it begins to noticeably lose heat. The powdered herb of a plant may be substituted for the fresh leaves. Use enough of the powdered herb to make a paste. The paste is then spread between two pieces of cloth, applied and renewed, several times.


  1. Nice details on how to make infusions, teas, decoctions,syrups, tinctures,oils ,salves and creams. Extremely detailed and pretty excellent advices. Thanks

  2. Very helpful. Thanks for posting!

  3. I have a tincture formula that includes Chamomile. Is there a way to transfer a Chamomile infusion into a tincture formula?