Herbal infused oils are a great addition to your personal care repository. Use them alone as a massage or body oil, or as the base in your body product recipe. Today’s post explains the most popular methods of infusing oil and includes some recipe concoctions to try out on your own.
Simple to Make
An oil infusion requires a carrier oil and high-quality dried herbs. (Do not use fresh herbs because their water content will spoil your oil.) Not much different from making tea, dried herbs are soaked in oil for an extended amount of time, then strained, leaving the oil infused with the essence of that herb.
For infusion, olive or jojoba are the most popular carrier oil choices because of their long shelf life, but almond, apricot or grapeseed are fine options too.
Herbal choices are abundant. Medicinal oils will require particular herbs for their healing properties (lemon balm for skin ailments). Massage oils will demand herbs for both medicinal and aromatic properties (lavender for a relaxing massage). And personal body oil may just need an aroma to accentuate the oil’s medicinal healing properties (vanilla and jojoba). Online resources and books will provide you great recipe ideas. I’ve added an easy solar infused recipe below for you to try.
Dried herbs can be purchased online and locally. Frontier Co-op, Oregon’s Wild Harvest, Pacific Botanicals, and Mountain Rose Herbs have a large selection of organic and conventionally grown dried herbs for bulk sale. They are trusted companies with reputable sourcing of their herbs. Locally, Twin Star in New Milford, CT sells dried herbs, although I have not yet purchased from them. Like essential oils, checking the source of your herbs is important for purity purposes.
The infused oils I’ve created recently have me obsessed. I LOVE the lemon balm oil I made and look forward to adding it to a new idea for the simple. pure. love. product line. Lavender oil. Chamomile oil. Lavender and Chamomile oil. It’s addicting.
Experiment and have fun brewing!
Much love and happiness,
Making Your Own Herbal Infused Oil
What You’ll Need
- Carrier Oil (olive, jojoba, almond, apricot or grapeseed)
- Dried Herbs
- 1 quart or smaller glass jar with tight-fitting lid (smaller batches help prevent against rancidity)
- Double boiler or saucepan (and water to boil)
Heat-Infused Oil Method
A quicker method, using heat to extract the constituents (medicinal and aromatic goodness) of the herb also protects against rancidity.
1. Using a double boiler, adding water beneath, fill the top pan with 1 part herb to 2-3 parts oil. (This can be a personal and subjective ratio depending on the herb used and the desired potency. The greater the amount of herbs, the more potent your oil will be. Know your herbs.)
2. Bring water to a low boil, checking often to make sure it does not evaporate and dry out. Add additional water as needed.
3. Gently simmer for 1 hour (although some texts recommend up to 5 hours) until the oil takes on the color and smells strongly of the herb.
4. Keep your oil at 95 to 140 degrees. DO NOT ALLOW OIL TO BOIL RAPIDLY. Overheating or burning the oil will destroy your herbs and oxidize your oil, making it unhealthy.
5. Remove mixture from heat and allow it to cool.
6. Once cooled, strain mixture through muslin, cheesecloth or paper towel draped over a mesh strainer (coffee filter works too), pouring it into a glass jar (amber or dark-colored jars protect against rancidity as well). This will strain out the herbs, leaving only the infused oil without any particles. Vitamin E oil is a natural preservative and can be added to prolong the oil’s shelf life.
7. Cover jar tightly with lid and label.
Solar-Infused Oil Method
The Solar-infused method uses the sun’s natural energy to extract the herbal constituents into the oil.
1. Fill a large, wide-mouthed jar with herbs, anywhere from 1/2 to 2/3 of the way full, or another option is 1 ounce of herbs to 10 ounces of oil (This is more of an art than a science as it is a custom used throughout cultures and history.) Cover herbs with about an inch or two of oil, filling the jar (allow a moment for herbs to absorb oil then fill remaining space with additional oil). Stir well, making sure the herbs are completely submerged and there are no air bubbles. Cover tightly with lid. Label jar with date created and date of completion, so you have a record.
2. Place jar in a sunny spot (this is traditionally done outside in the sun, even buried in sand for the natural warmth, but is just fine indoors on a warm windowsill) and let steep for 2 to 6 weeks. Amber or dark-colored jars are best if placing in direct sunlight. Gently mix jar daily by turning it upside down and upright. This helps to keep everything covered, allowing the herbal properties to infuse into the oil.
3. After a few weeks, open and strain mixture through muslin, cheesecloth or paper towel draped over a mesh strainer (coffee filter works too), pouring it into a glass jar (amber or dark jars protect against rancidity as well). Vitamin E oil can be added to prolong shelf life.
4. Cover tightly with lid and label.
- Amber or darker-colored jars will aid in longevity of your oil’s shelf life.
- Be sure to label your jars with ingredient information and date of infusion.
- Store in a dark, cool, and dry area.
- Do not introduce water at any point in the process of making your oil (no wet spoons or jars from washing).
- If your jar of infused oil begins to smell funky, it’s got to go.
- Most infused oils should be used within a few months to six months.
- Water introduces bacteria and will rapidly turn your oil rancid. If moisture ever accumulates on the jar lid, wipe it off with a clean cloth before storing the jar away.
Please note: Oil infusions are not the same as essential oils, which are processed through a more complicated distillation method.
Solar-Infused Lavender Oil Recipe
What you’ll need:
- A jar
- Jojoba oil
- Dried lavender flowers
How to make:
- Fill a sterilized jar with dried lavender flowers.
- Pour jojoba oil into the jar, covering the flowers by at least an inch. Allow herbs a moment to absorb the oil. Add additional oil if needed to assure flowers are covered by an inch of oil.
- Stir the oil making sure herbs are completely submerged and there are no air bubbles. Cap the jar tightly. (Some recipes recommend wrapping the jar in a foil in order to help the infusion process and protect the oil.)
- Place the jar on a sunny windowsill for around 4-6 weeks, gently turning the jar to mix the oil every day.
- Once the oil is ready, strain and store in a jar. Make sure to label with date and ingredients.
- Enjoy as a massage or body oil, or use it as the base in your DIY body butter.