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Tools Every Herbalist Needs

As with most things, there are a few things absolutely necessary,

The rest are conveniences or luxuries.

It is absolutely necessary that you have herbs, and for herbal preparations you will need menstruum and some vessel to store your herbs. It is also beneficial to have a non-reactive pot, like stainless steel, and a strainer to filter the marc when you’re done. A mortar and pestle, coffee grinder, French press and herb press are all nice items that are luxury. You can use your knife, your hands or a blender, that you don’t mind burning the motor of, until you get access to all of these. The last must have is a mentor, whether that’s a family member or friend, a professor or herbal teacher that you find in a book.

There is a variety of choices of menstruum, and the great thing is that many of us already use these items in our kitchen. Water, oil, vinegar and honey will allow us to make a variety of medicine- albeit, sometimes less concentrated than grain alcohol (for tinctures) and rubbing alcohol (for liniments). Glycerin is relatively sweet, and it can be used to make extracts for all members of the family so I would get glycerin over alcohol if it is an either or decision.

Another item you might already have is mason jars. I love that they are air tight, reasonably easy to find, and reusable. This one jar can be used for everything, fermenting, canning, storage, and even freezing (look for wide mouth varieties with the freezer line indicated on the jar). You can get fancy colored jars, lids and bands, which can be helpful for color-coding your organization as well.

Cheesecloth is not a common household staple today like it was years ago, but it can still be found in most grocery stores. It is cheap and can be used as a strainer, tea bag, compress or a poultice. Coffee filters are more commonly found in kitchens and it can also be used for these uses. Twine pairs nicely with these items, I love to use it to hang dry my herbs or to make tea bags. I even used it to make some cheap curtains to cover my jars on my open pantry shelf. I am a proponent of using what one has, waste not, and want not.

As you can see you don’t need bells and whistles, you don’t need “all the things”. Start where you are, with what you have. You don’t need to be perfect, just start.

List of Essentials to Have on Hand

Fresh Garlic

Fresh Onion

Fresh Ginger








Cilantro/Coriander (Useful for stomach complaints and effective against Salmonella strains)

Cayenne Pepper (Useful for heart attack and excessive bleeding)

Cinnamon (Valuable for blood sugar regulation)

Clove (Topical For tooth pain, also antiviral)




Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother

Non-Food Items

Mesh Strainer or Unbleached Cheesecloth

Kitchen twine

Funnel and Canning Funnel

Mason Jars

Measuring Spoons

Glass Measuring Cup

Non-reactive pot such as stainless steel

Tea kettle or mechanism to heat the water

Optional but helpful

Grain Alcohol

Rubbing Alcohol or Witch Hazel


Double boiler


Spice Grinder

Mortar and Pestle-(I prefer stone as it provides more weight and abrasion)

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