There are many ways to combine liquids and magical ingredients to make powerful potions, but these are the most common types of potions.
An infusion involves placing herbs or flowers into a liquid that is heated to a certain temperature. The water draws out the properties of the herbs or flowers as the liquid cools. This process is called “steeping”. Most teas are considered infusions. When you’re looking up potion-making recipes online, be aware that not all “teas” are meant to be drunk. Sometimes in witchcraft, tea infusions are meant to be used topically or to be discarded after finishing your spell.
You can use many different heat sources for your infusions such as a stovetop, a ritual fire, a candle, or even the heat of the sun.
To make this potion, add fresh or dried herbs, flowers, or other plant matter to a jar of oil. Leave the herbs in the oil for about a week until the herbal energies have blended with oil. You can use this oil with or without the herbs still in the oil.
In addition to herbs or flowers, you can infuse a liquid with many types of energy.
Crystal Infusions (Sometimes called Crystal Elixirs)
Crystal infusion is used to create a liquid that takes on the energy of a crystal. You can add only one crystal to your liquid or several stones to create a mixture of energies. To make this potion, you place a crystal (or crystals) in room temperature or cool liquid. Extreme temperature changes can cause crystals to crack. Some crystals are not safe to use in water, either because of dangerous elements in the crystal that can leak into the water or because of potential damage to the crystal itself. Be sure to do your research to verify the safety of each stone you use in your crystal infusion.
Leave the crystal in the liquid for up to an hour. Use your intuition to decide how long your crystal needs to “steep”. Then, remove the crystal before using or storing the potion.
Solar or Lunar-Charged Infusions
This type of infusion uses the energy of the sun or the moon rather than herbs or flowers. To make this potion, you leave a jar of liquid outside where it will be exposed to sunlight, moonlight, or whatever energy you’d like to infuse into your potion. The energy of thunderstorms or clouds can be used to make an infusion as well. Many witches believe the liquid must be in a see-through container for this infusion to be successful, but this is largely personal preference.
This potion uses color magic to infuse the liquid with the energy of a particular color. You can use traditional color correspondences, or you can go by what colors you associate with different intentions. To make this potion, fill a colored jar with a liquid of your choice. The liquid will take on some of the energy of that particular color.
A Note About Infusions: An infusion is one of the simplest potions to make, but it is also considered the weakest way to extract energy from an herb, flower, or crystal.
A decoction is a potion made from hard, dense plant matter such as twigs, bark, seeds, roots, or mushrooms. These plants are boiled in water for a longer amount of time than an infusion.
A syrup is made with a very concentrated infusion or decoction. Sugar is then added to thicken and preserve the syrup. Syrups can be used for magical or medicinal purposes and are typically meant to be consumed.
This is a term used to describe any potion where the liquid is being boiled or simmered for an extended period of time. This is a more general term for a magical potion and can refer to a variety of potions.
Tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts that are made through a process called “maceration”, where herbs, flowers, or other magical ingredients are steeped in alcohol to create a fragrant potion. Traditionally, a tincture is made with alcohol, but you can make a similar extract with vinegar or glycerine. Four Thieves Vinegar is an excellent example of a traditional magical vinegar extraction.
If you’re using alcohol, 140-proof alcohol (or 70% strength ethyl alcohol) is recommended for making tinctures. Vodka is most commonly used.
To make a tincture, gather up herbs or flowers and chop or grind them into a powder. Pour the herbs into a jar. Add the alcohol (or whatever liquid you’re using) on top of the herbs until it just covers them. Seal the jar tightly. Shake the jar once a day for 1-2 weeks. Strain out the herbs with a strainer or cheesecloth.
The benefit of tinctures is that they will preserve the magical powers of the herbs for years. Tinctures are often used for magical or medicinal purposes. Some witches add a drop or two of a tincture to add magic and fragrance to their oils. This may also extend the shelf life of your magical oil.
Though magical oils usually aren’t made for consumption, they are still considered to be potions.
Essential oils are made most commonly using steam distillation. This is an expensive and challenging method that requires a significant amount of specialized equipment, and most modern witches opt to purchase their essential oils at reputable online or brick and mortar stores. You’ll likely come across both synthetic and natural essential oils. Though the natural essential oils are more expensive, many witches prefer using these in their potions or oil blends since the synthetics don’t contain any of the energies of the actual plant.
Essential oils are highly concentrated and should not be used topically unless they have been significantly diluted in a carrier oil (not water!). They should never be taken internally, diluted or otherwise.
Essential oils are best used when a few drops of oil are added to a cauldron of heated water or an essential oil diffuser. These devices can safely diffuse the energetic properties of the oil throughout your space.
Essential oils are not suitable for women who are pregnant and people with other health conditions. You should never use essential oils on or near your pets or children. Even diffused oils can cause significant health problems ranging from respiratory issues (particularly common in small animals like birds, rabbits, cats, and small children), impaired liver function, skin issues, and even death.
While some companies are making claims about their essential oils being edible, these claims are false and you should not trust the companies who make such claims or their products. They are far more interested in their profit margins than they are in your health and safety.
If you are skeptical of my stance on essential oils, please take a moment to read these sources from Poison Control (includes actual cases of essential oil poisoning), a certified aromatologist or aromatherapist with extensive training in the use of essential oils, and two warning letters from the FDA to doTerra and Young Living for making illegal and dangerous claims regarding the effectiveness and safety of oils that have been proven toxic. If I seem overzealous on this matter, it is simply because I care very much for the safety and wellbeing of my students and it is far too common for misleading claims to lead people into incredibly harmful behaviors. Please keep yourselves safe!
Blended oils are potions where several kinds of essential oils are added to a carrier oil. Witches will choose essential oils and fragrances to blend by their magical associations.
The general recommendation is to add 5-7 drops of essential oil per ⅛ cup of carrier oil but some oils require more dilution for safe use. Popular carrier oils include jojoba, safflower, sunflower, coconut, apricot kernel, almond, hazelnut, grapeseed, or castor oil. Avocado or olive oil can also be used as carrier oils.
Blended oils are used in magic to anoint magical tools such as candles, amulets, crystals, wands, and cauldrons. Some witches will use these blended oils on their body to anoint themselves. Be aware that essential oils, even diluted, can cause reactions. Please use caution when using blended oils in magic.