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Tinctures, Extracts, and Infusions - Oh My!

This is a new area for me and before last month I had never heard of the word – tincture (yes, I had to look it up). I have heard and used extracts and infusions, I just didn’t realize that I could make my own own tinctures, extracts, or infusions and incorporate them into my lotions and soap recipes. I guess someone has to make this great stuff, it might as well be us.

So now I’m here to show you how you can make your own tinctures, extracts, or infusions by using some of the great botanicals available at thesage.com and how you can use them in your own recipes.

Let me start by giving you some definitions and examples of some great tinctures or extracts that you could make with me.

Tinctures – are solutions that use alcohol as its solvent. When making tinctures the herbs or botanicals are put in a container with alcohol, 80 proof vodka for example. The jar is left to stand for a period of time, maybe two to three weeks, and shaken daily in order to maximize the extraction process. Tinctures can be used as a facial toner, added to clay to make facial masks, or added to the water when making a foot bath.

Infusion – means to steep in liquid, usually to extract a flavor. The infusion process is the method used to prepare tea and herbal teas. The tea is placed into hot water and allowed to steep until the desired flavor is achieved. Making a pot of tea and using the tea water in your lotion recipes is a great idea to make that lotion extra special. Infused oils can also be created for a great twist in making lotions or soaps.

Decoction – means to extract the flavor or properties of something through a continued boiling process. A decoction process is different from infusion in that the process is often longer and the water is kept at a boil. A decoction is used more often with roots such as making ginger tea from fresh ginger root. Doesn’t that sound great to add to your recipes? The decoction process of mashing, boiling, and straining can be used to create various types of malt beverages as well (think beer).

Extracts – all of the above are extracts but I am going to go a bit further here and explain an extract as any carrier (water, oil, or alcohol) that is used to remove a soluble portion from plant material. So, an extract might be a tincture, infusion, decoction or a combination. Boiling a plant material in alcohol will create a decocotion/tincture. For ease of reading let’s define extracts as oil soluble infusions. We will only heat the oil and plant material to extract the oil soluble properties.

Don’t worry about this set of definitions, I won’t be giving a test. Taylor might, however. 😉 All teasing aside, we will be making each of these items and you will be more prepared on how to make your body care products extra-special.

I am going to show you how to make several of these items that you will be able to use as toners, soap oils, lotion oils, massage oils, etc. I’m going to go gather some fabulous botanicals, as well as other supplies, and I’ll meet with you soon with a “how to” blog that will get you started.


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