When it comes to crafting herbal preparations, the choice of a suitable menstruum — aka a solvent used to extract the therapeutic properties of herbs — is of utmost importance. Honey can be considered a moderate-to-strong menstruum, unique in its ability to extract water-soluble constituents as well as small amounts of oil-soluble compounds.
At a recent herbal apprenticeship class, I learned a very simple tweak to my usual maceration process that creates much more potent alcohol tinctures and alcohol intermediary infused oils. It’s not just about speeding things up… the vibrant colors achieved by blending herbs as part of the infusion process are mind blowing! ♥
Once upon a time, before the advent of distilled alcohol, liquid herbal extracts were made one of three ways: with water, wine or vinegar.
As a menstruum, vinegar is nowhere near as effective as alcohol at drawing out an herb’s medicinal properties; however, it can assist alcohol in extracting certain plant constituents.
Next to tisanes (aka herbal teas), tinctures are probably the most commonly used therapeutic herbal preparation. They’re a convenient way to incorporate herbs into your daily routine — effective, portable and easy to dose since you typically only take a few drops at a time diluted in water.
Are you ready to kick your oil infusion skills up a notch? An alcohol intermediary oil infusion harnessing the solvent powers of alcohol might sound a bit intimidating, but it’s surprisingly simple to do. Before we get to the hows of making an alcohol intermediary oil infusion, let’s take a quick look into the whys.
One of the oldest, simplest, and some would argue, most effective ways to incorporate herbs into your daily life is in a water infusion, also known as tea. Or, if you’re fancy and drink your tea with your pinky out, a tisane.
Infused oils are a foundational cornerstone of herbal-powered wellness products such as salves, creams, lotions, serums and other topical formulations. Oil acts as a solvent (aka menstruum) to capture oil-soluble plant constituents such as alkaloids, gums, resins, volatile oils, and certain oil-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), allowing the plant’s therapeutic compounds to be delivered to the skin.