YOU ONLY NEED THREE SUPPLIES TO START MAKING HERBAL REMEDIES, BUT IT DOES RUN SMOOTHER IF YOU HAVE A FEW MORE. IF YOU HAVE A CLEAN GLASS JAR, A RUBBER BAND AND A COFFEE FILTER YOU CAN CREATE YOUR FIRST TEA, TINCTURE OR OIL! SO DON’T GET OVERWHELMED IF YOU DON’T HAVE MUCH ON THIS LIST.
That being said, when you jump into herbalism head first and you go speeding into creating herbal remedies. You may find yourself standing in the kitchen, elbow deep in oil and beeswax, realizing that you do not have a proper container to pour this lovely creation into.
To help prevent this situation I’ve made a list of supplies you should have on hand before creating your herbal remedies. I have used many different items in my kitchen to create my herbal concoctions and I will share with you what works well and what does not. This list may get long but you really don’t need much to get started. It includes what I began with and what I have upgraded to.
The list also includes what I use the items for. So if you just want to start with a tea or an infusion you can focus on those items. If you choose to start with tinctures instead, find the items on this list used for tinctures.
Let’s get started!
The Very Basics
This is a must. You may get so wrapped up in what you are making and the recipe you are following that you forget what changes you’ve made. And then you end up with the perfect consistency, smell and potency and you have no idea how you managed it. You will want to get into the habit of writing down your processes. It all matters. When and where you got your plant parts. What oils you used. How much you used. What order you put it all together. I’ll do a later post on the importance of this notebook.This is by far one of the most important tools as you begin making your remedies. I can’t tell you how many perfect concoctions that I have not been able to recreate because I have no idea how I did it in the first place!
Empty Clean glass Jars, some with lids
These have many different uses. I keep old pickle jars to use to melt my beeswax and oils together. A double broiler would work for this but I don’t want to clean the wax out of it so I just keep a few on hand specifically for melting wax. I just put the jar in a pot of boiling water to melt the wax. Make sure your pot is not to full of water, you don’t want your jar to float and tip over.
I keep mason jars on hand for many things in my life but when it comes to making herbal concoctions I use them for everything! I use mason jars for mixing my oils and tinctures. I use them to store finished oils and tinctures. I’ll keep the finished products in a dark area since Mason jars will not keep the sunlight out. I love the mini ones for storing my salves and creams! You really can’t go wrong having some of these on hand. Also with canning jars having the rings on hand is great, they work well for holding the cheesecloth in place when sun infusing your oils. A rubber band would work too.
I have found so many uses for cheese cloths since I started keeping it around. For my herbal remedies I use it as a cover when sun infusing my oils. I use it to strain plant parts out of my teas, oils, tinctures and infusions! Coffee filters and tea towels work ok for this but it seems to take a bit longer for it all to soak through and sometimes I’m in a hurry!
Measuring Cups and Spoons.
When you are making your herbal remedies, the recipes you reference will use many forms of measurement. Some will use parts, some will use weights and some will use spoons and cups. You can achieve parts, spoons and cups using measuring cups and spoons. You can also convert weights to parts and cups pretty easy as you get a feel for it.Nonreactive Pot.
There will be many instances where you need to boil water. You’ll need it to warm your jars or double-boiler for melting ingredients. It is also a good way to boil water for teas and infusions.
I have a few knives that I use when making my remedies. I have one completely designated for my beeswax. It’s nothing terribly special but when I started chopping beeswax I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get it all off. I have since realized with some good elbow grease and some very hot water it will come off. I have my husband sharpen this one often. I also have knives that I use for chopping fresh herbs for tinctures, oils, poultices and so much more.
This one is a given. You’ll need something to pour your teas into so you can enjoy them!
Nice to have for stirring, mixing and scooping. You just never know when you’ll need a spoon and wooden is safer. You want to be careful about the reactivity of the metal you use when creating herbal remedies.
A must for labeling. I’ve started using painters tape because it stays on my jars while they are brewing but it comes off nice and clean when I’m ready to use the jar for something else. I also use duct tape or masking tape to label the herbs that I’ve hung for drying.
These come in all sizes and if you have one on hand you will find you can use it to drain your teas, tinctures and oils very easily. The drain strainers make it a bit more hands free but these will get the job done if it’s what you have!
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Super Helpful to have on hand!
You may be picking up that I really don’t like cleaning beeswax off of my kitchen tools, so it’s no surprise that I use these for stirring instead of a spoon. When I create my concoctions I am usually doing more than one recipe so it is nice to have a couple of different stirrers around so I’m not crossing from one recipe to another. I’m not sure if this is really a big deal but I prefer to have one skewer for each recipe.
They also work great when stirring the beeswax and oil together in the jars, because they don’t have a big spoon head the fit nicely into the jars. And then when they are all coated in beeswax and oil, I can just toss them instead of scrubbing multiple spoons!
I found some tiny funnels used for filling oil lanterns in the camping section and I was so excited! These are wonderful for getting your tinctures into those tiny amber bottles I did use larger funnels until I found this little gem but it was very messy and I wasted so much. It made me very sad. So if you can get your hands on one of these I really recommend it!
A conversion chart to reference when working with recipes or creating your own recipes, is very important to have on hand. Every book can be very different on how they measure out ingredients and having a conversion chart to reference will be very handy!
Tea towels have so many uses. You can clean up your messes with them. You can use them in place of cheesecloth for straining, or you can use it to cover oils for infusing. You can find them for pretty cheap and then cut them up to the size you need. I love using them for wrapping poultices in.
Many books recommend using this for melting beeswax. As I said before, I don’t want to clean that up. I do keep one on hand for making my creams. Butters are much easier to clean out of the double boiler than beeswax. If you decide to experiment infusing oils over the stove instead of waiting for it to infuse over a few weeks, this will come in handy too. I’ve never had much luck with this way of infusion but I haven’t spent much time on it either. If you do plan to do this you may want to have a food thermometer on hand as well.
Hot pads and or Jar lifter
When I first started I just used hot pads to strategically pick the jars up out of the water. It worked fine. I’d get hot water on them some times so it could get a bit dangerous. When I started canning I purchased a Jar lifter and boy that made things easier. I still would use the hot pad for some stability, but the jar lifter made it so much easier to safely remove the jars from the water!
This is not a must but I love having one on hand to quickly boil water for my teas or infusions. Having the pour spout makes it more convenient than pouring my boiling water from a pot. Sometimes when I’m melting many different combinations in my pot I run low on water so I’ll quickly boil some water in my tea pot and I’ll carefully pour it into my pot instead of pouring cool water and waiting for it to get back to a boil.
I love having these on hand. They fit so nicely in the top of my glass jars. I place it in the jar, put some cheese cloth over it and viola! It makes straining the oils so much easier. I used to use a large mesh strainer and that works fine for but using the drain strainers gives me an extra hand and less oil spills over the sides of the jar.
These are nice to have on hand. If you are just mixing up a simple tea you don’t want to have to mess with cheesecloth and a strainer. It is not a necessity but it is a cheap luxury.
When you are more advanced in your remedies you may decided to spend a little more on a kitchen scale. I originally bought a cheap one to measure ounces from Walmart. It was a waste of money. It was not accurate and once I learned to convert ounces of beeswax to tablespoons I never used it.
That being said, having a good scale can help you get a general idea of how much dry herb you want when making an infusion. It can help you measure parts by weight instead of by cups. Each way you measure will change your recipe a little bit so learning which form of measurement you prefer will be important. I find that doing parts by weight instead of by cups or spoons makes it easier to recreate the same results in my recipes.
Food processor or blender.
This is a quick way to blend your herbs up for poultices. You can chop and squish by hand which will have the same results but I will occasionally make large batches to preserve in the freezer for winter and it’s nice to blend a large batch all at once when I’m doing this.
When I’m making my creams I will sit them in the fridge to harden. I’ll then pull them out and mix them to a nice creamy consistency with my hand mixer.
I love my French press! I actually have two. One I use for coffee and the other one is all herbs. It makes making infusions so simple. And pouring from a French press is so much easier than pouring from a glass measuring cup.
I use amber bottles to store my finished tinctures. I used to store some oils in them and I still do on occasion but I rarely store oils for very long. I usually turn most of them into salves. Having a glass amber bottle keeps the tinctures safe from sunlight and many of them come with droppers making it easy to use your tincture from the bottle.
Take a breath. Don't get overwhelmed!
Now that you’ve scrolled through this long list, take a breath. Don’t get overwhelmed. You DO NOT need everything on this list. And you probably have a good amount of the items on this list. Remember, it really only takes three items but if you want to go deeper this just gives you some guidance and a few tips to avoid the mistakes I’ve made.
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If you would like to get a visual on some of these items, go over to my toolbox. It does have affiliate links but it is a good reference to look at when deciding what supplies you’ll want or need.
I hope you found this helpful and I’d love to hear more from you so leave me a comment, ask me a question, tell me some of the supplies you use in the kitchen!