Red Root Percolation

Ok, here’s the photo journal of my first percolation experience.

Here is the Ret Root that I used. I ground it up in the Vitamix as fine as I could (which wasn’t very fine, so I was worried about how it would turn out). Then I mixed in enough alcohol to moisten it and let it sit in a sealed jar for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, I shaped a coffee filter into a cone and lightly packed 1/3 of the herb powder into it. Then I placed the herb cone into the glass percolator cone and packed the rest of the herb into it. Then I cut out a circle of the coffee filter the right size to fit over the herb. This is used to keep all the powder from floating up in the alcohol. You want the herbs to stay evenly packed. I placed a nice stone/crystal on top to keep the paper circle in place.

Next, screw the top back on the bottle/percolator cone (or make sure it is on when you start the process) and place the cone in a mason jar.

Pour the alcohol gently onto the stone/circle.

Here’s a picture of the inside of the cone once I poured the alcohol.

Loosen the cap just enough to allow the alcohol to drain to the cap, then close it tightly. This makes sure that all the herb is in contact with some alcohol. Now cover it with plastic and let it macerate for 12-24 hours.

After it has macerated, loosen the cap enough to get a drip flow of about 1 drop every 3 seconds. Here are the first drops that came out. They are the strongest and most potent. The last drop that comes through tastes just like the alcohol and has very little of the herb medicine left in it. It’s all been extracted. Isn’t that cool? When you think it is done, loosen the cap more and see if the drip continues. When it is all done, take the cap off and let it sit for an hour. Mine took about 5 hours after I began the drip until I took it all apart.

This is my final product. Nice and red!

Here is the cone after I took it out.

And here is what the spent herb looked like.

Now label your tincture and keep it in a cool, dark place!

11 thoughts on “Red Root Percolation

  1. Ok..I could look this up prolly..but since you posted I’ll ask you ! What is the difference between a Percolation vs. making your own tinture by letting herbs soak in alcohol for 6wks ? Does this give you the same results but in a quicker manner ? Could you use this method for fresh herbs too ? (like lemon balm ?)

  2. Percolation and Maceration are just 2 different methods of tincturing. Maceration, you’re right, is where you let the herbs soak, and percolation is where the alcohol flows through at a certain rate and extracts the medicine (and it is quicker, so it’s great to use if you are in a pinch). It causes the herbs to constantly come in contact with fresh alcohol so you get a better ‘pull’ of medicine into the fluid. Where as the macerations method has the herbs sitting in the same, saturated alcohol for 2-6 weeks. From what I understand percolation actually produces a better quality tincture, but it only works well for dry roots or seeds. Fresh stuff can’t be powdered and leaves and flowers aren’t really dense enough and absorb too much of the alcohol.

    Lemon balm also makes a wonderful, yummy glycerite and is great steeped for a few weeks in honey, too!! But, it wouldn’t make a good herb to percolate!

  3. Wonderful! The tincture looks beautiful!

    “Loosen the cap just enough to allow the alcohol to drain to the cap, then close it tightly.” Is this the cap at the end of the upside down bottle? Did you poke a hole in the cap? How big a hole?

  4. Forgot to ask you, where do you get your Red Root and your other herbs?

  5. Hey there.

    OK, so don’t poke a whole in the cap. What happens is, you screw the cap onto your cheap wine bottle (or glass water bottle) tightly. When you flip the bottle upside down and pour the alcohol into the cut open bottle bottom, the alcohol doesn’t flow through well and will sit on top of the herbs, or flow very slowly (the flow rate depends on the fineness of your herb powder). When you just slightly unscrew the cap it allows some air into the system to pull the alcohol down. Once it has reached the cap, you screw it closed again so it doesn’t flow out. After it sits for 12 – 24 hours, then you unscrew it just enough to get that 1 drop every 3 seconds flow rate. The tincture will flow around the cap. You don’t have to poke any holes in it. It’s one of those things that is hard to explain in words… much easier to demonstrate, but I hope this helps

    Oh, and if I can’t harvest my own herbs I usually get them from Starwest ( Their on-line prices are pretty high, but if you call them and ask for a wholesale catalog, I have found that they are generally the best price and great quality.

  6. Maria!
    You just gave to the people an inside view of the percolation process! My hat is off to you, this will really help bring high quality medicine to people of all economic levels. You Rock!
    Jill Frink Thompson

  7. Thanks, Jill! It was really fun! I felt so ‘old-timey’ apothecary having this sit on my kitchen table :-)

  8. Hey Ed! Welcome aboard!

    Apple Cider Vinegar is wonderful for making tinctures with! I don’t know if it would work as a menstrum for percolation though. I usually add my herbs to it and let is sit for 6 weeks, shaking it daily.

    The thing with vinegar is that it doesn’t extract the medicinal properties as well as alcohol, but it is great for getting out the vitamins and minerals. So, many people will use vinegar for their tonic herbs (like nettles, chickweed and other yummies) and use it as a salad dressing or something like that.

    You are actually trying to avoid fermentation of the vinegar. It’s best to use 100% vinegar and then use the tincture within a year, or keep it in the fridge. I would think, with the herbs in the vinegar, fermentation would just make the whole thing go bad or rancid.

  9. Hi, thanks for informative post! However I was wondering what was the ratio of the root to the alcohol ie. how much alcohol have you used, and how much of the root?

  10. Hey Anna! Honestly, since this was 10 years ago, I’m only guessing, but I imagine I was doing a 1:5 ratio…. one part red root to 5 parts alcohol. Sorry I don’t have more info. I should have put that in the original post.

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