February 19, 2023
I’ve lately discovered that there is truly a lot of variety in how people do tinctures— especially with difficult herbals that are better when double extracted. So this is a report on the beginnings of an experimental process to see what works best for me.
I’ve been making teas and, recently, decoctions of Chaga, and I learned that it is one of those substances that, on account of the fact that some of it’s beneficial compounds are soluble only in alcohol, I should do a double extraction. That means normally that you simmer the mast (the herb that’s left over after straining out the tinctured alcohol) a bit and then combine the two liquids, being sure your quantities end up with a minimum 25% alcohol for preservation.
But then I started reading various approaches to get a better idea of how to do this, and found four distinct approaches. The details are a bit tedious, but essentially, it comes down to which you do first, the alcohol or the water extraction. Then there are variations in how long for each and how many times you do the water extraction. All of which is sort of a testimony to the really deep levels of beneficial compounds this Chaga has!
A Hybrid Method
I am in the process of double extraction of Chaga chunks by a hybrid method that combines several of the elements from the methods I found. Since I need to have the decoction to drink daily, I am continuing to do my water extraction every few days, and placing the mast from each in a jar with alcohol, adding a little alcohol each time to keep the proportions about the same.
I’ve also started an alcohol tincture with unused Chaga chunks, which I will let soak for 4 weeks or so — various sources suggest from 2 weeks to 6 weeks. At that point, I’ll be sure the second extraction jar has been sitting at least 2 weeks since the last time I added mast. Then I’ll strain the alcohol tincture and simmer the mast for a few hours, adding water as needed to maintain the volume.
Then the challenge will be to do the math to figure out how to combine the two so that it’s 25% alcohol, allowing for the fact that my alcohol is already 60% water (80 proof). May try to combine with a decoction as well, or just add the double extraction tincture to the future decoctions as I use them.
It’s all seeming a bit complex as I try to plan it, but I’m hoping each step will become clear to me as I go through the process — and modify as needed!
Basically what I’m doing is one batch alcohol first and one batch water first, and then combining the two. Hope it works!