How to Make a Lavender Tincture


perfume-1The lavender bush outside of my kitchen window has been buzzing for more than a month. I can barely get close enough to snip some of the fragrant purple buds extended over the tops of the leaves for all of the bees. I like them there. I like the idea of them alighting just feet away from where I prepare our food, gathering what they need and then disappearing to who knows where.

All beautiful things are fleeting. All beautiful things are beauty for a moment and then wither into something else. All beautiful things peak and fade.

I think it’s natural to want to capture that beauty of an instant. All good art can do this. But with scents its a little trickier. It makes sense that capturing a scent would make you feel a little bit like you are a magician.

I’ve been practicing my magic on the 8 x 4 ft. lavender bush. I’ve been making potions, starting with lavender.

Lavender, as you might imagine from the smell, has all kinds of lovely uses, the most important of which is relaxation. The only thing in my head right now is how I’m going to use my tincture to add to the baths I get to take after the boys go to sleep, but I’m also envisioning some air freshening spray, maybe a skin toner. Anything where I can inhale its sharp floral essence.

Good Lord, by the time I’m done even the clocks in my house will have fallen asleep.

You can preserve lavender and other herbs in a tincture, a simple process by which the essential oils are extracted and preserved in alcohol. This is how you do it.

1. Get some booze

Vodka, with its minimal flavor, is the best alcohol to preserve herbs with. It needs to be at least 80 proof to prevent mildewing in the bottle.

2. Get the right container

The best containers for tinctures are ceramic or dark glass. I have a lot of mason jars laying around, so I’m using that to make the tincture, but they are best stored in dark bottles that can be stopped with cork or sealed with a screw-top lid. Make sure they are sterilized.

3. Prepare your lavender tincture

Rough chop your lavender harvest, including your stems, enough to fill the container you are making your tincture in. Cover with the alcohol.

4. Remove bubbles

Use a knife to stir around the edge of the glass jar to make sure there are no bubbles in the tincture.

5. Store the container

Place it in a dark place for as few as 7 days or as long as a month. Shake it regularly.

6. Strain

After your tincture has been seeping for as long as a month, strain it into a separate container through muslin cloth, cheesecloth or any other straining material to filter out the lavender stems and flowers. You see in the image that I used a coffee filter. Press into the material to ensure all of the good oils have left the plant.

7. Decant

Pour the tincture into your desired tincture bottle.

8. Label

Lavender tinctures can last as long as 5 years. Label your bottle and store it in a cool, dark place.

And…. done! I feel more relaxed already.