An infusion is a form of water based potion, similar to a tea, and best suited for immediate ingestion of delicate ingredients such leaves or petals. To make a magical infusion: pour boiling water over your ingredients in goblet and leave to infuse for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Strain before drinking if necessary. The leaves in an infusion need to steep longer than your average herbal tea, to allow enough time to release their phytochemicals, which are the active ingredients of the potion.
A decoction is another water based potion designed for immediate ingestion. However, it is a more concentrated brew than an infusion and is usually reserved for tougher ingredients such as roots or bark – where prolonged stewing is needed to release the phytochemicals. A decoction can also be reduced, which is to say, it can be made more concentrated by prolonged simmering which evaporates the water. To make a decoction: simmer your ingredients in water in a cauldron over low heat for 10-30 minutes; then strain. Reduce if necessary with further simmering over a low heat.
A tincture is an alcohol based potion. It fulfills the same function as an infusion or decoction but with the added advantage that it will keep for up to a year. A tincture is suitable for both delicate leaves and tougher materials such as bark as the alcohol releases the chemicals very effectively and in a similar way to the prolonged simmering of a decoction. To make a tincture: steep your ingredients in vodka or another spirit for a week. This allows time for the alcohol to release the active elements in your plant materials. After a week, strain off the liquid into a vial and store for up to a year. Administer sparingly, a tablespoon at a time.
A vinegar fulfils the same purpose as a tincture except that vinegar is used instead of alcohol. Prepare your vinegar in the same manner as a tincture and store for up to a year. A vinegar is useful in the case of alcohol intolerance or where the herb used is particularly bitter as the vinegar will mask it to a great extent.
A syrup is the most palatable form of potion. Here magical ingredients are preserved in a sugar solution. A syrup is another potion that will keep for up to a year. It is best suited for occasional use at it is very sweet and could cause tooth decay if taken regularly. A syrup can be taken by the spoonful or alternatively diluter in water in a similar manner to a fruit squash. To make a syrup: first make an infusion or decoction of your ingredients and reduce if necessary. Strain and add sugar to the potion, stirring frequently, until the brew won’t dissolve any more sugar and resembles a syrup. Store in an airtight bottle in a cool, dark place.
A poultice is a wad of chopped plant material that is held in place directly over a wound by a bandage. To prepare a poultice: chop your fresh herb and apply directly to a wound or infection. Hold in place over the wound with a bandage. If using chopped dried herbs rehydrate them with some water first. If the herb is tough and hard to handle, try adding some vinegar diluter in water to your poultice.
Fomentations or compresses are cloths that have been dipped in an herbal solution – such as an infusion, decoction, or a tincture – and then are applied to a wound. To prepare a fomentation: first create the required infusion, decoction, or tincture. Then dip your cloth into the liquid, quite liberally, and apply. It is important to use a very clean cloth to prevent the spread of infection.
A salve is very similar to a lotion or a cream. Magical ingredients are mixed in base of oils or fats for external application to the skin.