Percolation Of Herbs

Photo of Sharol Tilgner

Making Herbal Tinctures By Use Of The Percolation Process

Percolation

Percolation is a process of extracting herbal material into a preserved product by moving the solvent (often alcohol or alcohol and water) though a powdered herb very slowly, and the solvent drips out of the powdered herb through a filtered bottom container where the solvent with the herbal constituents is now collected.

Percolation takes only 1-2 days before you have a final product. This is the great feature about this method. It is very fast. The down side is that you can't use fresh plants and you need slightly more specialized equipment that you will need to make or purchase.  Some herbalists feel percolation delivers a 10-30% stronger product than is achieved with maceration. However, I personally have found the macerated products I have used have worked better for me than percolated products. Although I generally like the product that I get from maceration better than the product from percolation, I have not used as  many percolated products as I have macerated and it is possible there are some that are better than the macerated products.

Tools Needed

  • percolation cone - vessel with stopcock and glass tubing are traditional but see alternatives less expensive below
  • lab stand
  • silicone valve
  • lab stand to hold cone
  • cap for cone to control drip rate
  • cotton balls or filter paper - unbleached coffee filters are good
  • tamping devie - dowel or end of wooden spoon
  • dried herb powder
  • scale to weight powder
  • alcohol or other solvent - usually alcohol and water mix is used

 

Alternatives to lab percolation cone - Lab equipment can be spendy. Some herbalists make their own out of a wine bottle or water bottle that has the bottom cut off and is ground down or cut safely so the glass will not cut you. Some people use plastic but plastic is toxic.

Wine bottle with bottom cut off or if  you want to use plastic, a water bottle with adjustable lid and loosen or tighten lid OR find a food grade silicone stopper that you can open and close with adjustments.

Directions

Use a lab stand to hold the percolation cone/wine bottle.

Always done with dried powder. Can't percolate fresh herbs. Using weight to volume ration and standard is 1:5

Weigh powder out 1 gram to 5 ml of solvent. Solvent is usually water/alcohol

Put cotton balls in the neck of the bottle rather than a coffee filter. Then put the silicone valve in end of bottle and open valve up until everything starts to run through and you will then decrease the flow. Add 1/3 of plant material and pack down slightly. Tamp with dowel. Want powder consistant so there is even movement of solvent. Don't want too loose or too tight. too tight and fluid can't get through and if too loose the powder will float around.

You can get about 100 grams of herb into the bottle/cone along with the necessary 500 ml of solvent. You will need to pre-moisten the powder with the solvent until it looks like wet dirt or sand. You want to re-hydrate the herbal powder. Mix the solvent and powder well until powder is moistened appropriately. When pre-moistened it will look good until it sits awhile. After siting it will need more solvent. Let it sit covered for minimum 4 hours and best 24 hours. It should clump in your finger but fall apart fairly easily when you pick it up and move it around with your fingers. So pack all the herb into the cone, but do it in 3 separate packings. Then press a coffee filter onto the top of the material and now can add the solvent. The coffee filter keeps the material from floating up when you add solvent. You should see the solvent flowing through evenly and quickly through the plant material. Leave the valve open or the air will back up into your product. Keep the valve open until you get the solvent dripping all the way through and out the cone opening. When it gets to the bottom and starts to drip, close the valve and let the  menstruum sit for about 12 hours while the solvent pulls the substances from the cells of the plant. When the 12 hours are over you can open the needle valve to let it drip at the rate of 1 drip every 3-5 seconds.

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