Plant extracts made by soaking the plant for weeks in a chemical that dissolves another chemical (a solvent) such as alcohol, glycerin, or vinegar. Tinctures are generally stronger than decoctions or infusions. Alcohol is the most common solvent because it can extract many different kinds of plant components and because alcohol is a preservative—alcohol based tinctures can last for years. Vanilla extract is a tincture of vanilla beans in alcohol.

Plant materials may be soaked in alcohol for several weeks and chemicals slowly dissolve into the alcohol without the need for heating which may break down desirable chemicals. The tincture extracts chemicals which are more soluble in alcohol than in water.

The picture to the right is white willow bark in alcohol which contains salicylic acid, the active ingredient of aspirin.

Tincture: from the Latin tenere which means “to hold”.