Fluid extracts differ from tinctures, in that they are a double extraction method using both alcohol and water to pull out not only medicinal qualities of a plant, but the nutrients as well. A typical tincture, is an extration method using only alcohol (and distilled water depending on the type of alcohol used). Fresh tinctures as a general rule, are done at a ration of 1:2, 1 part herb to two parts menstruum (1). Dried herb, whether powdered or not, is generally macerated (2) at a ratio of 1:5. Fluid extracts, on the other hand, are a higher concentration, with a ration of 1:1. Fluid extracts are also a two part extraction method, using alcohol, and then water to extract different components you want from the herb.
Many chemical consituents can be extracted via alcohol, and this is often the preferred method, however we end up losing out of some of the vital nutrient compounds that are better - or only - released through a water extraction. For example Vitamin C, and many of the B vitamins are water soluable, but will not come through as potently in a straight tincture. By using the double extraction method we have a holistic approach to extraction, and a potent final product.
Artemisia's Approach to Fluid Extracts (As taught by Michael Moore) - Makes 1 gal.
Every herbalist is going to have their own approach to herbal practice, and no one way is necessarily the absolute only way to do something. Different approaches and thought processes are in herbalism, as they are in many other practices, even conventional medicine. With that said, someone might approach fluid extracts in a slightly different capacity.
- 190 proof cane alcohol (or another alcohol of your preference)
- Distilled water
- 2# powdered dried herb - we like powdered herb becuase there is more surface area available to extract from
For this process a percolator (3) is needed. You can find directions on making a percolator here.
- Label two jars:
- Jar 1: Fluid Extract - part 1, 24oz.
- Jar 2: Fluid Extract - part 2, 32oz.
- Pour powdered herb into a large bowl, drizzle a little alcohol (about 1/4 - 1/2 c.) into the herb and mix until the powder has a somewhat "wet" consistency, and can stick together somewhat when squeezed in the hand. More alcohol can be added to attain the desired consistency, it's always best to start with less, and the herbs will vary.
- Prepare the percolation process
- Place a coffee filter at the bottom of the percolator
- GENTLY place powdered herb into percolator and tamp LIGHTLY (this is crucial), making sure the herb does not get between the coffee filter and the percolator (the tamping process varies for each herb, for example, burdock and dandelion do not need any tamping as they are very sticky herbs and it will be difficult for the menstruum to filter through)
- Tear a coffee filter and place gently on top of the tamped herb in the percolator
- Measure 80oz menstruum at 75% (60% alcohol, 30% water) and slowly pour over herb
- Let sit for 24 hours
(1) Menstruum: Medium which is used to extract herbs.
(2) Maceration: Compounds of herbs leaching out into the menstruum, essentially and infusion.
(3) Percolation: Process where liquid slowly moves through herbs for 12-24 hours, dripping into a jar