Herbalism Kit, Revisited: Tools and Supplies for Herbalists

Bored of the standard D&D 5e herbalism kit? Check out the tools and supplies your herbalist and alchemist would really use!

I just had a pleasure of writing a Kickstarter update and telling the world that I have finished writing a book. That’s right, my debut is written and edited! Out for final proofreading tomorrow, and meanwhile, I have some illustrations to finish.

Which makes it a perfect moment to share some content from Herbalist’s Primer! This month, we’ve sent the whole Recipes chapter (80 recipes!) to our supporters on Patreon, but what we haven’t shared so far is our notes on general preparation of magic potions and other herbal creations.

A mortar and pestle in front of two old, leather-bound books.
A mortar and pestle in front of two old, leather-bound books.

What’s in the Kit?

In D&D 5e, if you want to have fun with plants, all you get is a Herbalism Kit, helping you identify herbs and brew antitoxin and potions of healing. According to the description, it contains: “a variety of instruments such as clippers, mortar and pestle, and pouches and vials used by herbalists to create remedies and potions.”

Not too inspired, admittedly – and I’m not surprised that when I asked people what they’d like to see in the book, many people have requested notes on proper herbalist’s tools.

In facts, herbalist’s use a variety of tools – some of them in field conditions for collecting and storing, some of them in small kitchen-scale labs, and some in full-sized laboratories. From the adventuring perspective, the first one is what matters most – with an addition of some simple tools for magic potion brewing over a long rest in a camp.

Let’s look at those tools, then, and replace the standard-issue herbalism kit!

A cork-stopped glass bottle with dark liquid, next to a variety of fresh herbs.
A cork-stopped glass bottle with dark liquid, next to a variety of fresh herbs.

Basic Tools

  • clippers, scissors, or a sickle (some magical plants might require the tools made from a special material, like wood, silver, or gold)
  • tweezers (for handling small, precious, or dangerous material)
  • knives (sharp for cutting; dull for magical, ritual practice)
  • basket or a bag (canvas or cotton, preferably with pockets to avoid mixing gathered herbs)
  • bowl (preferably non-metallic and heat-resistant)
  • spoons, spatulas, cutting boards
  • kettle, pans, and pots (preferably with a double-boiler insert for melting)
  • gloves (thick leather or multi-layer fabric for handling thorns and prickles; rubber or latex for handling toxic substances, preferably disposable)
  • mortar & pestle (for crushing and grinding the raw material; usually made of hard wood, metal, ceramic, or hard stone, like granite or marble)
  • sieve (for separating wanted material from unwanted based on the particle size distribution)
  • cheesecloth (for straining, preferably unbleached cotton)
  • tea press or strainer
  • scale, measuring cups
  • funnel (for filling bottles)
  • eye-droppers (for precise dosage of liquids)
  • censer (for burning incense)
  • spice grinder or cheese grater (for grinding hard substances, like resins, nutmeg, or peppercorns)
  • storage containers (twist or mason jars, tins, spray bottles, vials, dropper bottles; all reusable if thoroughly cleaned and sterilized; dark glass, usually amber or cobalt, can withstand certain levels of UV contamination—use it for light-sensitive compounds)
  • labels (for documentation)
  • notebook and writing utensils
Three identical bowls: one containing fresh herbs, one dried, and the third prepared herbal salts.
Three identical bowls: one containing fresh herbs, one dried, and the third prepared herbal salts.

Basic Supplies

  • herbs, processed and stored according to their needs
  • clean water
  • solvents (water, methanol, ethanol, acetone, hexane, ether, chloroform)
  • wax (beeswax or alternatives: soy, sunflower, olive, rice bran, or paraffin)
  • oils (sunflower, olive, rapeseed,
  • coconut, or other cooking oil)
  • butter
  • vinegar
  • wine
  • honey or other sweetener
  • self-igniting charcoal blocks
  • fabric and cords (preferably natural fiber and unbleached)
  • candles (wax or paraffin)
A glass with fresh lavender, a bath towel, and a small crystal flagon with a pink liquid.
A glass with fresh lavender, a bath towel, and a small crystal flagon with a pink liquid.

Advanced Lab Equipment

  • microscope
  • beakers, milliliter cylinders
  • herb press
  • blender or mixer
  • alembic, retort, pot still, or steam distiller (for distillation of liquids through boiling and cooling to condense the vapor)
  • florentine bottle (for distillation of flower oils)
  • boiler (for steam creation)
  • cooling tower (for cooling liquids or condensing steam)
  • chiller (for quick lowering of temperature)
  • blower (for evaporating)
  • dehydrator (for dying)
  • crucible (for melting metals and other substances in very high temperatures)
  • oven (for baking or drying)
  • heat exchangers (for transferring heat from one medium to another)
  • centrifuge (for separation of liquids
  • of different densities or liquids from solids)
  • tank (for holding liquids)
  • capsule-making machine
  • tablet press

Coming Up: Magic Potion Recipes!

Next time, we’ll look at practical herbalism – well, TTRPG / D&D herbalism, as I am not a medical practitioner, just a gamer and a curious librarian. We’ll got through different types of preparations (there’s more to herbalism than just hot leaf juice!), some recipes, and ideas on how to come up your own herbal creations!

In case you missed it, this post is brought to you by Herbalist’s Primer, my debut book on ethnobotany, folklore, occult, and tabletop roleplaying – and there’s much, much more to come!

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