The main difference between infusion and decoction is that infusion usually uses flowers and leaves, while decoction uses hardy plant parts like roots and bark.
Infusion and decoction are two methods we can use to extract the essence of a plant. They are mostly used in traditional medicine, aromatherapy, and the production of household products. Although these are similar processes, there are several differences between them based on the methods and plant parts they use.
Key Areas Covered
What is an Infusion
Infusion is the extraction of flavors or chemical compounds from a plant in a solvent like water, oil, or alcohol. It involves the process of steeping or soaking plant parts in water or another solvent until the solvent absorbs the flavors and oils of the plants. When making infusions, we often use plant parts like dried herbs, flowers, and berries. Moreover, we can make infusions with both hot and cold water, but hot water is the most effective.
Herbal tea is a good example of infusion. But this is a type of weak infusion. For this kind of infusion, we usually use hot water. Moreover, tea usually uses leaves in the steeping process (chamomile tea is an exception as it uses dried chamomile flowers) and takes only a few minutes to prepare. Long infusions, on the other hand, use roots, shoots, flowers, and leaves of the plant and require a considerably long period.
Infusions have serval benefits. We can drink infusions for medicinal value. They are also used in many homemade remedies, cosmetics, and natural products like cleaning products, garden fertilizers, and insect repellents.
What is a Decoction
Decoction is the extraction of the essence of a plant by boiling plant materials. We usually use plant parts like stems, roots, bark, and rhizomes to make decoctions. Decoction is the most common preparation method in most herbal medicine systems. They are generally used to produce tisanes, tinctures, and similar solutions.
It usually involves drying plant materials, then mashing, cutting, or slicing them for maximum dissolution, and boiling them in a solvent to extract flavors, oils, organic compounds, or other chemical substances. Water is the most common solvent used in decoctions, but aqueous ethanol or glycerol are sometimes also used as the solvent. In herbalism, decoctions are used to extract fluids from hard plant parts like bark and roots. To do this, these plant materials have to be boiled for 1 or 2 hours in water and then strained.
Difference Between Infusion and Decoction
Infusion is the extraction of flavors or chemical compounds from a plant in a solvent like water, whereas decoction is the extraction of the essence of a plant by boiling plant materials.
While infusion involves steeping or soaking the plant material in the solvent for a few minutes, decoction involves boiling the plant material in the solvents, and this boiling process can even take a few hours.
Infusion typically uses flowers, roots, shoots, and leaves of a plant, while decoction uses stems, roots, bark, and rhizomes.
Herbal tea (peppermint tea, chamomile tea, sage tea, etc.) is an example of infusion, while tisanes and tinctures in herbal medicine systems are an example of decoction.
The main difference between infusion and decoction is that infusion usually uses flowers and leaves, while decoction uses hardy plant parts like roots and bark. In addition, infusion involves steeping or soaking the plant material in the solvent for a few minutes, decoction involves boiling the plant material in the solvents, and this boiling process can even take a few hours.
1. Jeanroy, Amy. “Learn How to Make the Perfect Herbal Infusion at Home.” The Spruce Eats.
2. “Decoction.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation.
1. “Photo of tea, glass, aroma, herb, produce, drink, healthy, mint, leaves, sage, tee, herbs, bless you, peppermint, healing, fennel, medicinal herbs, herbal plant, herbalism, tea herbs, herbal tea, teegl ser, sencha, mint julep” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “Son decoction” By ker thiossane – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia