Storing Herbs


Because light affects herbs adversely, It is best to store herbs in airtight jars that are either ceramic, or translucent. Jars such as amber or cobalt work well. Plastic jars tend to absorb the oils from the herbs, so glass is preferable. Even if you do not have access to these types of jars it is best to store them in a cool dark cupboard or cabinet.

Raw herbs have varying shelf lives The general rule of thumb is six months for leaves. One year for seeds and soft roots. About a year and a half to two years for barks and hard roots. Freezing extends the life by about 50-60% but can damage the herbs if not stored properly.


Drying Herbs

Herbs can be dried by placing them on a rack in a warm room. This will take several days to dry thoroughly. If your stove is capable of being at 140° it can be used as a dehydrator. A more convenient way to dry herbs is to use a dehydrator. These are available commercially, or one can be made easily. There are several references at the end of this document for instructions and commercial suppliers




Jars – for storing herbs Ceramic or translucent jars work the best, though transparent canning jars are more readily available.

Knife – a good sturdy knife for cutting herbs. Thinner and smaller blades do not offer the control when working with harder herbs

Mortar and pestle or a food processor – grinding herbs. I personally recommend 2 different mortar and pestles one for toxic and one for non-toxic as it is difficult to get them thoroughly clean.

Labels – identify and date formulas Herbs are sometimes difficult to identify after they have been ground or formulated, plus it helps you track the shelf life

Notebook – It cannot be stressed enough; Record everything. Purchase and formulation dates, as well as formulas both the ones that worked and the ones that didn’t.

Pots and pans – When making some formulas it is better to have a specific set of pots as the formulations can sometimes destroy a good pot. Ceramic is the best choice, steel is the second best. Avoid iron, copper, brass or other metal pots as the pots can contaminate the herbs.

Double boiler – for working with wax If you don’t have one a makeshift one can be made by simply placing one pan into a large skillet with water in it.

Dehydrator – a simple one can be made by building a box with screen shelves and a 100 watt light bulb.

Scale – it is better to apply formulas by weight rather then volume as you have different volumes for some of your lighter leaves. A scale that can measure grams is best.

Alcohol – Though many sources say to use vodka, I prefer Everclear as it is stronger and will pull more of the constituents out.

Vinegar – clear vinegar works better then apple vinegar

Oils – Olive oil, grape seed oil almond oil and other varieties work well.

Beeswax – This works much more efficiently then paraffin wax and will work better on the skin

Honey – For making lozenges and to flavor teas.

Tincture of benzoin – to add as a preservative for formulations

Strainers – tea balls, metal strainers and cheesecloth all work well to

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