11 Must-Haves to Build a Basic Home Apothecary

Are you wanting to get into herbs and possibly make your own natural medicine cabinet, but you don’t know where to start? I know how overwhelming it can be, but I got you.

At first, it can appear to be pretty pricey and intimidating. Everything that I am sharing, except the herbs can be reused multiple times. Most of the time, with the herbs a little bit goes a long way. Also, I highly recommend starting small and letting your apothecary grow over time to the size that feels right for you. When I first started my apothecary, it all easily fit on one kitchen shelf. Now I have a giant cabinet that I am outgrowing.

Here is a list of must-haves to create a basic apothecary:

1. Herbs - You can’t create herbal remedies without herbs. I recommend starting off with nutritive herbs. These herbs are gentle, can be taken every day, and are packed with nutrients. These are herbs like Nettle, Dandelion (both the root and leaves), Burdock root, Rosehips, Ginger, Turmeric, Rosemary, and Thyme.

2. Jars - Herbalist loves jars! This is the one thing we might hoard. If you know an herbalist and you want to give them a gift, they will be happy with jars. Not any jars though. You want food-grade jars, like Ball. All sizes work, but I definitely recommend quart size (32 oz.). My preference is the wide-mouth jars. I think they are easier to get things in and out. I store all my herbs in jars, make infusions and tinctures with jars. (I shared a link for Amazon, however, as I am writing this I am finding they are much cheaper at Walmart or Target).

3. Strainers, Infusers, Cheesecloth, and Nut Milk Bags - If you have a 12-year-olds humor as I do, yes I said nut milk bags! When it comes to herbs, there is a lot of straining involved. Most of the time you are going to want something that has tiny holes. Something mesh-like, because you want as few particles in your creations as possible.

I ordered this teapot that has an infuser in it. When I first got it I was disappointed, because I thought it looked frail and weak. I didn’t think it was going to last very long. However, I have had it for over 4 years. It’s still going strong *fingers crossed* and I use it often. I don’t put it on the burner though. I just add hot water to it.

4. Amber Tincture Bottles and Salve Containers - Depending on what you are creating you are going to need tincture bottles, you will want them to be amber or blue. I don’t recommend the clear. You don’t want your tinctures in sunlight, this can make it go rancid. The amber and blue protect it from the sunlight. With the salve containers, you can get glass, tin or plastic.

5. Coffee Grinder - Most herbalists will tell you to get a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have electricity a mortar and pestle will come in handy. My mortar and pestle became a decoration and I ended up using an inexpensive coffee grinder to grind my herbs up.

6. Alcohol - When making tinctures you use alcohol. I recommend 100 proof vodka, but if you are like me and can’t easily get 100 proof, 80 proof works as well.

7. Honey and Vinegar - Honey and vinegar are handy to have around when you are making things like syrups and oxymels. You can also infuse herbs with honey.

8. Oil - Oils mostly used for topical use like for salves, balms, and serums. My go to oil is avocado oil because it doesn’t have much of a scent, it has a high smoke point and it just seems to work well with my skin. Olive oil is great for the skin, however, I am not big on the smell and it doesn’t have a high smoke point. You can also use oils like jojoba oil and apricot oil. I would stay away from vegetable oil, canola oil, and seed oils. They are heavily processed and/or go rancid fast.

9. Beeswax - If you are wanting to make salves and balms you will need beeswax.

10. Labels - When you are creating, it is really important that you label your creations. What they are, when you created them and when they will be ready to use. It doesn't have to be fancy, unless you want it to be.

11. Books - There are so many herbal books that I love, but to get you started, I recommend The Modern Herbal Dispensatory, by Thomas Easley and Steven Horne, and Medicinal Herbs A Beginner’s Guide, by Rosemary Gladstar. These are great beginner books.

Like I mentioned before, a little at a time works and you don’t need everything overnight.

Disclaimer: This is all for educational purposes. I highly recommend you do your own research.


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