Salves are semi-solid preparations of a plant remedy in a non-aqueous base to protect, nourish or convey medication to the skin. They are made from a base. An herbal powder or fine-cut material is usually added to the base which will vary according to the substance used.
Our salves are generally prepared by placing one or more herbs into a crock pot. We then add an oil or variety of oils and heat on low for several hours. The “herbal oil” is then strained and filtered. Next, we place in a pot, add bees wax and heat to melt and combine. Once the bees wax has melted, other ingredients, such as essential oils, vitamin E oil, grape fruit seed extract, etc. are added. We then pour into containers and the salve thickens as it cools.
In general, alcohol is a better solvent than water for the plant constituents. Mixtures of alcohol and water dissolve nearly all the relevant ingredients of an herb and as the same time act as a preservative. Alcohol preparations are called tinctures, an expression that is occasionally also used for preparations based on glycerine or vinegar.
Tinctures are concentrated liquid extracts of the soluble constituents of roots, barks, seeds or aerial parts of plants to preserve their vital properties. Tinctures made from alcohol or glycerine and water, ensure preservation for a number of years. For leaves, flowers and aerial parts generally, 25 per cent alcohol is usually sufficient strength, but many require 60 – 90 per cent
We make our tinctures by placing a pound of a particular plant part into a large glass jar. We then add an alcohol (we use vodka) and water mixture. When tinctures are prepared professionally, specific water/alcohol proportions are used for each herb. We shake the tincture regularly and let it set for up to 6 weeks. We then separate the tincture by decanting, straining and filtering.
Tinctures are plant medicines which are easy to take and readily absorbed by the body. Many herbalists believe that tinctures—or liquid herb extracts—are more quickly assimilated by the body than other herb forms. But when you take tinctures can affect how well they work. In most cases, it’s best to take them between meals, when absorption isn’t slowed by food.
The amount of tincture prescribed as a single dose may vary from a few drops to 1 -2 teaspoons and taken 1 -3 times daily. They may be taken straight or added to a small amount of water. The small volume of alcohol is usually well-tolerated. Where there is aversion or allergy the dose may be taken in hot water from which alcohol soon vaporises into the atmosphere leaving only medicament and water. The bottle should be shaken before use to remix and natural sediment.