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Mullein Tincture and Grinder  RSS feed

 
Posts: 11
Location: New York
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I haven't made my own tinctures in awhile and I quickly put a batch of dried Muellin Leaves, filled it somewhere around 3/4's of the bottle (because the herb is so light and fluffly) and filled the bottle with Devil Springs Vodka 160 proof vodka.  

I thought I'd better research it better next time and pull out my herb books and Michael Moores Material Medica.   He recommends 1:2, 50-60% alcohol.

I just eye balled the ratio and I used a much stronger proof vodka.  

I read that too strong could dehydrate the herb.  I don't know what that means?  Don't you want to dehyrdrate the leaf and pull out all the oils and water from the plant?  

_____________________

Anyway, did I just waste a batch of herbs and a 1/2 bottle of vodka? Or will this batch be useable?  

Could somebody recommend an all purpose grinder for herbs like Muellin and hard roots like Comfrey, and Burdock?  The small coffee grinders are useless?  Do I even need to grind the Muellin?  so much surface area exposed and it's a soft plant.
 
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Posts: 78
Location: Pleasant Hill, Oregon
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I am not sure if you are talking about 1:2 fresh or 1:2 dry, but here is some general data from my book, "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth". I assume you are using a maceration method.

"Liquid extract strengths are measured in a weight to volume ratio. The first number is always the herb and the second number is always the fluid. A 1:1 strength means 1 part herb by weight was mixed with 1 part of fluid by volume. A 1:5 strength means 1 part of herb by weight is mixed with 5 times that amount of liquid by volume. The strength should also list whether it is 1 part of fresh plant (1:1 fresh) or 1 part of dry plant (1:1 dry). "

Mullein is a light fluffy plant as you know so, to make a 1:2 of fresh or dry plant means you will be putting that plant through the menstruum (liquid) many times. About 5-7 I would guess if dry. (I have the data on a disc in storage, but it is not handy to me currently, so this is from memory.)

I am not sure what is meant by dehydrating the herb. To dehydrate something means you pull the liquid out of the substance. If you are using a maceration method the idea is to have your fluid such as the vodka you mentioned using, permeate the cells of the herb to draw out anything and everything you can. So, I can't make any more sense out of that than you can.

Regarding eyeballing how much liquid and herb to put in: Generally, Mullein is going to draw a lot of the liquid (menstruum) into the plant, especially if dry. More so than most other plants. If dry, I would put a small amount, say about 20% at the most of the Mullein herb into the jar and 80% volume of your alcohol (or other liquid used). Let it sit over night and see the next day if you can add more herb or not. A lot of the alcohol will be absorbed into the herb, and with Mullein that may be all you can add. However, after it spends a few weeks macerating you may want to press out the herb, and add even more herb into the menstruum (liquid) to make it stronger. If you were actually making a 1:2 strength fresh you would need to re-macerate menstruum with more herb quite a few times to get to that strength. If making it dry, I would not make it 1:2, I would decrease the strength, as at some point it would not pull out anything more of value due to the liquid getting saturated with substance.

Rather than using a set tincture strength, many people just eyeball their herb and liquid as you mentioned. This works better with dry herbs as you don't have to account for the liquid in the plant. A method called the "folk Method" of making tinctures is often used. This is basically adding enough alcohol/water or just alcohol to keep the plant under solution (often need to add way less plant since the plant will absorb a lot of liquid) and shaking it each day and then pressing it out for use.  

When trying to reach a particular strength of plant to liquid ratio it is more complicated. This is a good method to use with fresh plants as you can calculate the moisture in the plant and figure out exactly how much water and alcohol to add to get the strength you want. Originally, people were calculating the strength based on the amount of plant and liquid added, but that changed as one point when the FDA wanted the labels to show the final strength of the product. It has been a while since I was running an herb company and I am not sure what is being used on herb labels currently. The govt. messes with businesses a lot. What people do in their kitchens is often different than what an herb company needs to do. I hope I have not entirely confused  you with excess data and made this clear as mud. I give very detailed directions on how to make tinctures to specific strengths for both dry and fresh herbs in my book "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth". It is complicated and there are ten whole pages on it with photos. The math was always the hardest things for my students to understand, but when they got it, they were able to make any tincture after that with great results.

As far as how to grind it, I suggest putting the herb and liquid into a blender. It will mix easily together this way. If you grind Mullein dry, it will go into the air and get into your lungs and can really irritate your lungs. In fact in a business where it is ground up, the people grinding it need to where face masks with coverage over their eyes, nose and mouth. You do not want it in any of these areas. It irritates the lungs and can be itchy too.

Many herbs are easier for the home herbal product maker to mix in a blender with the liquid they are adding into the tincture. If the herb is dry and hard such as some roots might be, they can be soaked in the liquid for a few days ahead of time to make them softer and less likely to damage the blender. You can also order dry herbs cut and sift from the seller, so you can simply drop them in the liquid you are using.
 
David Marks
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Location: New York
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Wow!!  That’s an amazing and unexpected detailed response.   Thank you for writing all this.  No, it's not too much information.  Doesn't seem alot of people have experience with this herb.  

I am using dry herbs.   Yes, I am macerating them.

Sharol Tilgner wrote:

Mullein is a light fluffy plant as you know so, to make a 1:2 of fresh or dry plant means you will be putting that plant through the menstruum (liquid) many times. About 5-7 I would guess if dry. (I have the data on a disc in storage, but it is not handy to me currently, so this is from memory.)



I don’t understand this what this means to "put the plant through the liquid many times" .  I never heard of it could you please explain.  Am I taking the herb out and putting it back in ?

Dehydrating the herb is what is written on Mountain Rose Website.  I quote their website on using high proof alcohol

85% - 95% (190 proof grain alcohol)
• Good for dissolving gums and resins - but not necessary for most plant material.  
• Extracts the aromatics and essential oils bound in a plant that do not dissipate easily.
• The alcohol strength can produce a tincture that is not easy to take and will also dehydrate the herbs. Stronger is not always better.  



I would put a small amount, say about 20% at the most of the Mullein herb into the jar and 80% volume of your alcohol (or other liquid used). Let it sit over night and see the next day if you can add more herb or not. A lot of the alcohol will be absorbed into the herb, and with Mullein that may be all you can add.



Well, I kind of reversed it but I'll get it right the next time.  I filled the jar than 1/2 way.   My thinking was that it is so fluffy that there is not much herb but it takes alot of of space so I put more herb in to get a decent dosage and then filled it with the vodka..   Next day I was able to still put more herb in the jar.   So yes, I was eyeballing it.  

Thanks for the advice on grinding the herb(s).  Never heard of the blending.  There seems to be disagreement.  Some say not grinding the herb is more effective.   But I like the idea of grinding the herb in a blender with the liquid.  

I am going to buy your book.  NOW!  And go visit your websites.    

What about the vodka I bought.  Devil Springs 160 proof.  Michael Moore calls for 50-60% alcohol for Mueillin dry or herb.  1:5 for dry herb.   1:2 fresh herb.    Is this too strong?   Should I use a 100 proof vodka?  Or should I add water if I use the Devil Springs to lower the alcohol content?  

All my herbs are going to be dry.  From either mountain rose or starwest botanicals.   Mullein, Marshmallow,  Burdock, Comfrey root and leaves, Pleurisy root, I have some American Ginseng I want to tincture etc… Mostly roots and leaves, no guns or resins.  

And if I may ask you one more question.  I want to make combination tinctures based combinations and ratio’s of other peoples recipes.   Does it make a difference if I combine the herbs and macerate them together in proper ratio or can I mix them later in the proper ratio?

Thank you so much !!!

Buying your book NOW!

Regards,
David






 
Sharol Tilgner
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Location: Pleasant Hill, Oregon
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Hi David,

When I mentioned putting the plant through the liquid many times, I am talking about pressing out the menstruum (the liquid that the Mullein was soaking in) and putting more Mullein (new fresh Mullein) back into the menstruum again. If you are making a tincture to a specific strength, it is possible you may have to do this many times to get to that specified strength. When a person uses the simple folk method of making a tincture, they usually do not do this and the end product is not as strong. However, they may not care. The more Mullein you put through the menstruum the stronger the end product will be. However, this takes time and more effort. At some point you reach a saturation level in them menstruum and adding more herb will not make it stronger as it will just cause a lot of settling out of the plant material.

 
David Marks
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Sharol Tilgner wrote:Hi David,

When I mentioned putting the plant through the liquid many times, I am talking about pressing out the menstruum (the liquid that the Mullein was soaking in) and putting more Mullein (new fresh Mullein) back into the menstruum again. If you are making a tincture to a specific strength, it is possible you may have to do this many times to get to that specified strength. When a person uses the simple folk method of making a tincture, they usually do not do this and the end product is not as strong. However, they may not care. The more Mullein you put through the menstruum the stronger the end product will be. However, this takes time and more effort. At some point you reach a saturation level in them menstruum and adding more herb will not make it stronger as it will just cause a lot of settling out of the plant material.



Dear Sharol,
Thank you so much for taking the time to clarify your directions.  I understand now.  I totally never heard of this and have been struggling with getting a good tincture with Muellin and Marshmallow for a couple of years now and gave up.   With your directions, I can give it another go.  Maybe I'll try both ways and that way I have a batch ready and a stronger batch off in the future.  

I see I chose a good time to ask my question as I see  you are a guest of the board  and now I can acquainted with your work having purchased both of your books.  

If you have a chance, I would love to hear your thoughts on the strength of alcohol for Muellin or just in general.   And I look forward to reading your entire section on tinctures as well as all the other material in your books.  
Again Many Thanks,
Kind Regards,
David
 
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David Marks wrote:Hi David,

If you have a chance, I would love to hear your thoughts on the strength of alcohol for Muellin or just in general.  
David



Well Sharol handled this question very nicely but I wanted to add since you asked, that you can dilute your alcohol menstruum down a bit if you want.  For dried herbs, I usually go with 50% alcohol, so if you're using 160 proof, you're already at 80%.  You can add a bit of spring water to make it a little more palatable. I like adding the water at the beginning of the tincturing process because I want the plant's water-soluble properties in the tincture as well.  For fresh herbs, I raise the amount of alcohol just a touch since the fresh plant contains water.  It really depends on the herb that I'm using and how moist of an herb it is.

Hope that helps

ETA - oh, and another note, you didn't waste a batch of herbs and vodka.  You can adjust it now if you like, or dilute it a bit later.  And as far as grinding goes, some folks use a blender and blend the entire thing; herbs & alcohol together.  I think it's perfectly suitable (and preferable, for me) to chop or cut the herbs a bit to increase the surface area.  I don't blend or pulverize though because I've never found it necessary.  I think the idea behind blending is to decrease your tincture time (or at least that's mostly what I've heard) but I just leave my tinctures to work their magic for 4-8 weeks, depending on what I'm making, and end up with beautifully potent & balanced tinctures.
 
David Marks
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Dear Angela,
Thank you so much for clarifying those points.  Good to know I can make use of this batch of Muellin without concern.   Maybe I'll wait 4 weeks for this batch to soak and I'll add a new batch with some water to get a higher potency and add some water while I'm at it.

Not totally grinding the herb to a powder resonates with me.  I think that's the route I'm going to go for now on.  

Many thanks for some wonderful, informative, thoughtful replies.  

It's very much appreciated.    

David
 
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