Reading about how to use herbs is great, but making medicine with them is how you embody your experience about what you are learning. I learn new things all the time when I start mixing everything together. It is such a wonderful feeling to be able to use and give foods and medicines that are created with my own love and appreciation. It is no secret that people who are interested in natural, organic or holistic living keep a couple of extra things around.
To make herbal preparations, you need the right tools. Most of the tools you use can be found in your kitchen. I would be hesitant to suggest you use anything you use for herbal preparations for making dinner as they can be contaminated no matter how well you wash them. For safety sake, keep cooking implements separate. Low cost alternatives can be used so you don't need to bankrupt yourself either.
The Harvest Blade Some simply state the Boline and leave it at that. But - by tradition you may end up having two or three different blades that will serve this purpose. The traditional Boline is a small white handled knife with a slightly curved blade, then you have the hand sicle which for harvesting things like mistletoe is traditionally golden.
Hand Snips Sometimes for the health of your garden you need to prune back excess growth. Its preferable if you have friends that can relieve you of the excess, but for seasonal grooming of your land you'll need a pair of these.
Mortar & Pestle This is a Bowl with a hand grinder intended to pulverize herbs and resins, the best ones are ceramic, don't let the glossy marble, onyx or jade ones fool you; as a Ceramic Mortar and Pestle has more texturing in the bowl it gets you better results in less time. With the same idea in mind you can use a coffee grinder or food processor and keep the toxic separate from the edible, but you will find the motors wear out a little too fast. If you hand grind your herbs you can use the process to imbue them with whatever you have in mind.
Small French Press This is not a traditional tool. Normally used in brewing the best coffee available. These are fantastic for Infusions and Tinctures and a great time saver if you blend your own oils, make herbed oils or herbed vinegars.
Tea Ball This is a special wire mesh ball, or double sided spoon with holes in it designed to clamp shut around your herbs that will allow you to blend your own herbal teas.
Saucepan A small one, 16 ounce is perfect in most cases. Look pyrex or ceramic something with a lid that will heat evenly and if you are attentive won't scorch whatever your assembling. I use mine for creating salves and ointmentments.
Double Boiler A small one. This can be used as an alterantive to the Saucepan, or to create your own should the need arise you can use a mixing bowl set on top of the saucepan so that steam can heat the contents from below.
Measuring Cups and Spoons For the obvious reasons.
Now, we all know that beyond your tools you have accessory items that can make life easier when they are on hand. For a cook these might be Vinegar and Onions, for an Herbalist the best things to keep on hand do not have a shelf life but still cannot readily be called tools, because you probably won't need them everyday.
This list could be infinate.
But we have taken time to pair it down.
Amber Bottles/Jars For the product of your harvest. I strongly recommend keeping a half dozen more than you are using on hand. You can use them for special blends, gifts and you will have them on hand if something breaks.
Beeswax For Lotions, Ointments, Balms and Seals. It is naturally tacky, meaning that when something touches it, it sticks. I suggest lining a shoe box in wax paper, or keeping it stored in a freezer bag or the dust build up will be gross. It has a higher melting temperature than Parafin and is harder when melting it for your Ointments etc, you will need a double boiler or you will scorch it. If you want to use it for your ritual or spell candles it should be blended with Parafin in a 3:1 ratio thats 3 parts Parafin to 1 part Beeswax.
Carrier/Base Oil Vegetable Carrier Oils: Better noted as Olive Oil, Almond Oil, Sunflower or Safflower oils. All have a maximum shelf life of about a year before they turn. Jojoba Oil is a favorite as it is botanically extracted but not a true oil, it is what is called a Wax Ester, and has a shelf life of aproximately 2 years. Mineral Oils, a clear, oderless and tasteless oil biproduct of petrolium production, are not usually recommended for use with aroma therapy but can with little difficulty be blended with Essential Oils for the creation of Bath Oil or Annointing Oil. It may clog poors and does not cary nutrients the way a botanical oil would, it is inexpensive and easy to come by, plus the benefit of an increased shelf life.
Alcohol Used in crafting Inks and Tinctures. For a Tincture you want to have on hand either 100 proof Rum or Vodka. If you are making Ink, then Isopropyl alcohol works fine
Borax This is a helpfull hint, for cleaning ritual spaces in an eco friendly way and detering Mice and various other pests from your stock. Is also used in Creams and Lotions.