Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Basic Tools Used in Herbal Medicine.

One of the most important things to an herbalist would be their tool set. Now most people think that you need a truck load of expensive and unusual tools to practice herbal medicine. When in fact, it is quite the contrary. An herbalist’s tools are basic and easy, and often cheap. But in the interest of curiosity I though I would jot down some main and possibly obvious staple tools an herbalist would use.
  1. Spoons! An herbalist almost always requires one or often more than one spoon. Metal ones, wooden ones, big ones, small ones, weird ones. Spoons are an absolute MUST for any herbalist of any level. I find it fun to drop buy a thrift store or goodwill store and rummage through their stock of used/vintage silver-ware.                                                                                                                                        
  2. Bowls. Yeah, this is an obvious one. Having a good variety of bowels from glass to metal to plastic, and also a variety of sizes will help to ensure that you have the perfect one for any preparation or concoction you might be mixing.                                                                                                          
  3. Jars & Bottles. These are among the most important tools for herbalism, for any herbal preparation, what ever type it may be, must be contained in some sort of vessel. Tinted ones are “optimum” but ANY seal-able and washable jar or bottle with a lid, is great for creating and storing all of your mixtures.                                                                                                                                            
  4. Strainers. Also known to many as Sivs these handy devices allow us to remove plant matter from teas, tinctures, acetums, infusions and countless other herbal preparations. It is essential to remove plant matter from some types of herbal concoctions to maintain self-life, and for others it is slightly less important to remove the spent plant materials.                                                                                      
  5. Cheese Cloth and other Fabrics. This is one area that is a bit versatile in my opinion. For decanting (decanting means to remove plant matter and large sediment from the preparation.) tinctures, and other infused preparations, cheese cloth is a wonderful and vital tool. But if you don’t have any, you don’t have to worry. Any piece of clean fabric will do pretty nicely. Although it is advisable to use either cotton or linen.                                                                                                                             
  6. Shipping Labels, Oh my! Though not imperative in themselves, labeling your herbal concoctions is an absolute, positive, in-refutable MUST! Although paper and tape will replace them quite nicely, they are nice to have. But as I have said before DON’T FORGET TO LABEL YOUR HERBAL PREPARATIONS!                                                                                                                                
  7. Pots and Pans Pots, Pans, of various shapes, sizes, colors, and materials are a very important addition to an herbalist’s kitchen or apothecary. Being able to heat various substances is essential. And some preparations require different types or materials.
  8. Knives. Knives are extremely useful in any herbalists tool-set. And sharp ones to! Some herbs and roots can be woody, stubborn, and hard. Such as dried Echinacea purpurea roots. They are hard enough to WRECK A BLENDER! That’s hard! So a sharp heavy-duty chefs knife and/or clever is a GOOD thing to have. As well as a good assortment of pairing knives, small knives, big knives, etc. A good knife sharpener and honing steal are also good things to have handy.

There are also a few “luxury tools” you might think about buying if you get the chance but that are by no means mandatory.
  1. A Mortar & Pestle. These things are great! Although the same effect can be achieves by a blender I suppose. But there is something so much more fulfilling about using a mortar and pestle. There are MANY different types of mortars & pestles. Some are more versatile then others but there is one general purpose type I adore, its a 2 cup Tai granite one. I have one and although in medieval times it would’ve qualified as a cannon ball as far as weight is concerned, it performs beautifully. One I would NOT recommend is marble. I also have one of those and lets just say 2 days of grinding to produce 1 ounce of ground herbs is a bit of a low yield for me. Prices for these vary with the type, brand, company, etc. But they are handy none-the-less. But what ever you choose they don’t have to be expensive. (I thought for the sake of convenience I would include a link to my favorite one from amazon.com…. it was a Christmas gift. Click Here.)                                                                            
  2. Water Kettle. Water kettles are wonderful and handy for making teas and infusions as well as other things. But I think that Kim Sue B. from Country Vintage Home could say this better then I. The Wonderful Water Kettle, By Kim Sue B.

There as many more tools to go over but these are the basics. As you can see the tools used for herbal medicine can be as simple or as complex as you like. And also as interesting. As I said, if you would like to try and find some interesting and surprisingly useful tools for your own herbal apothecary or kitchen, try thrift stores. There is almost always something interesting in the kitchen-ware sections and also keep your eyes open for tools at regular stores and super-markets. You never know what you might find.

I hope you enjoyed my look at tools used in herbalism, I’m glad you came and thanks for reading. Sincerely Herbal Em.

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