Tincture and Extraction Terms and Methodologies

Herbalism and apothecary practices and recipes can incorporate a unique dictionary of terms that are important to understand before preparing your application.

Terms in Extraction Recipes and Practices


In herbal tincture making, the menstruum is the solvent used to extract the active compounds from the herbs, such as alcohol, vinegar, or glycerin.  The choice of menstruum depends on the properties of the herbs and the desired strength and type of tincture.


Marc refers to the plant material left after the extraction process is complete.  This residual matter, composed of the herb's fibers and bulk, has had its active constituents removed by the menstruum.  The marc is typically strained and discarded, although it can sometimes be used in composting.

Full Extract

A full extract refers to a tincture where the entire spectrum of active compounds in an herb is extracted, often achieved through a longer maceration period or a combination of different extraction techniques.  Full extracts aim to capture the complete therapeutic potential of the herb leaves, stems, juice, seeds, oils, flowers, bark, sap, and roots.

Extraction Methodologies


Maceration is a traditional and widely accepted method of extraction in herbalism, requiring the herbal components to be soaked in alcohol over an extended duration, sometimes several weeks.  During this process, the active constituents from the herbs are dissolved into the solvent gradually.  Maceration is a delicate process, as your alcohol’s ABV, the particle size of the herbs being extracted from, and the duration of soaking can heavily influence the quality and potency of the resulting tincture or extract.  However, maceration also allows one to produce an extract that embodies the therapeutic properties of the starting material.


Conversely, percolation presents a quicker approach to herbal extraction, without compromising the potency of the end product.  The method involves continuously passing the solvent (alcohol) through a column of herbal material, which optimizes the extraction of active constituents in a shorter time frame.  Though it may require specific equipment and a bit more technical know-how, percolation is revered for its ability to produce potent extracts efficiently.  Percolation is most commonly used for in-season herbal materials.


Infusion in herbal tincture making involves steeping herbs in a hot or cold menstruum for a specified period.  This method is often quicker than maceration and is particularly suited for delicate herbs that may lose potency with prolonged exposure or heat.

Quick Wash

Quick wash is a rapid extraction technique where the menstruum is in contact with the herbs for a short duration, often just a few minutes.  This method is ideal for extracting specific, sensitive compounds that might degrade or dissolve undesirable elements in a longer process.

Spagyric Extraction

Spagyric extraction is a specialized method of extraction with several distinct stages: fermentation, distillation, and reunification of the herbal components.  The spagyric process seeks not only to capture the physical properties of the herbs but also their “spiritual” essence.  Spagyric extraction is a complex and time-consuming process; however, this method is respected for producing extracts that are believed to be superior in their therapeutic and “spiritual” attributes.

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