Why Make Herbal Oils?
Infusing herbs in oil is a powerful way to extract the potent medicine from herbs for external use. While teas extract herbs in water for us to take internally, oils do the same work extracting medicinal compounds for use externally. Whether you want to create a soothing massage oil or a healing salve, herb-infused oils are a great place to start.
To make herbal oils, all you need is a bit of dried herb and a carrier oil such as olive oil, grape seed oil, jojoba or sweet almond. Begin by choosing the herb or herbs you want to use. Some popular options are listed below, but the possibilities are endless. You can even experiment with combining different herbs to create unique blends with their own unique properties.
Herbs to Infuse
Here are my top favorite herbs suitable for use in herb infused oils:
- Thyme: has antiseptic properties and a strong, herbaceous scent that works well in cooking and skincare products
- Chamomile: has a calming and soothing scent, often used in aromatherapy and skincare products to soothe sensitive skin
- Sage: has antimicrobial properties and a strong, earthy scent that is often used in cooking and skincare products
- Peppermint: has a cooling and refreshing scent, often used in skincare products to soothe and refresh the skin
- Lemon balm: has a calming and uplifting scent, often used in aromatherapy and skincare products to soothe and rejuvenate the skin
- Eucalyptus: has a refreshing and invigorating scent, often used in aromatherapy and skincare products to help clear the sinuses and ease breathing
- Comfrey – has healing properties and is often used in skincare products to soothe and heal dry, damaged skin.
Dandelion: is particularly good for sore and tired muscles and joints. Dandelion salve is also soothing and moisturizing for dry, cracked, and itchy skin.
Note: Before using any herb for infused oils, it is important to research its properties, potential side effects, and recommended usage rates.
Basic Technique to Infuse Herbal Oils
Once you’ve selected your herbs, you’ll need to dry them thoroughly to prevent the oil from going rancid. Simply spread them out on a clean surface and let them air dry for a few days, or use a dehydrator for a quicker process. Once your herbs are dry, place them in a jar and cover them with your carrier oil of choice. Make sure the oil completely covers the herbs and is at least a half inch above them. Stir well to help distribute the medicinal compounds, then capping the jar tightly.
Place the jar on a warm, sunny windowsill. Give the jar a gentle shake a couple of times daily. Allow your herb-infused oil to sit for between 4–6 weeks. Now comes the hard part – waiting!
After the 4 to 6 weeks are up, strain the oil through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer to remove the herbs. Make sure to squeeze or press out every drop of the oil. You don’t want to waste a single drop! The resulting oil will be rich in the beneficial compounds of the herbs you used and can be used in a variety of ways.
To preserve the oil, transfer it into clean amber glass bottles and keep them in a cool, dark area. To extend the oil’s shelf life, consider adding a small amount of vitamin E oil during this process. For herbal oils intended for topical use, adding up to 1% concentration of vitamin E oil can help prolong their shelf life. The oil may keep for up to a year.
One of the simplest ways to use herb-infused oils is as a massage oil. The oil can be applied directly to the skin and massaged in to promote relaxation, ease muscle tension, and soothe sore joints. You can also use herb-infused oils as a base for salves and balms, which can be applied topically to treat skin irritations, cuts, and scrapes. Or, use them to create your own custom lotions or body oils for daily use.
Benefits of Infused Herbal Oils
Many herbs have healing properties that are best applied externally, such as soothing inflammation or promoting wound healing. For example, calendula flowers have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can help to soothe and heal irritated or damaged skin.
Another advantage of herbal oils is that they are incredibly versatile. Once you’ve infused your herbs in oil, you can use the resulting product in a wide range of applications. For example, a lavender-infused oil can be used as a soothing massage oil, a relaxing bath oil, or a calming addition to a bedtime ritual. Similarly, a peppermint-infused oil can be used to soothe sore muscles or as a refreshing addition to a foot soak.
Finally, making your own herbal oils can be a fun and creative way to connect with the natural world and create your own customized remedies. You can experiment with different herbs and carrier oils to create unique blends that suit your specific needs and preferences. Plus, the process of infusing herbs in oil is relatively simple and can be done with minimal equipment, making it an accessible form of herbalism for beginners.
Herbal oils are a valuable tool in the herbalist’s toolkit. They allow us to extract the potent medicinal properties of herbs for external use, are versatile in their applications, and can be a fun and creative way to engage with the natural world.
Folk Method to making herbal oils
To make herbal oils, all you need is a few simple ingredients and some patience. Here’s a basic folk recipe to get you started:
- Dried herbs of your choice (such as lavender, calendula, or chamomile)
- Carrier oil of your choice (such as olive oil, grapeseed oil, or jojoba oil)
- A clean glass jar with a tight-fitting lid
- Measure out your dried herbs and place them in your clean glass jar. You can use as much or as little as you like, depending on how much infuse herbal oil you want to make.
- Pour your carrier oil over the herbs, making sure they are fully covered. Use a clean spoon or chopstick to stir the mixture and release any air bubbles.
- Seal the jar tightly and place it in a sunny spot for 4-6 weeks.
- Gently shake the jar a couple of times a day to help distribute the herbs throughout the oil.
- After 4-6 weeks, strain the oil through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a clean amber glass jar or bottle. Discard the spent herbs.
- Label your infused oil with the name of the herb(s) used and the date it was made.
Quick Method for Making Infused Herbal Oils
If you need to infuse herbal oils quickly, a direct heat method can be used, but be careful. Burning or overcooking the herbs can destroy any medicinal or beneficial properties they contain.
To infuse herbal oils using this method, you’ll need a crockpot, double boiler, or electric yogurt maker. Place your preferred carrier oil, such as olive or jojoba oil, in the pot, covering the herbs and leaving an inch or two of oil above them. Heat the mixture gently over low heat (between 100 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1 to 5 hours, or until the oil takes on the color and scent of the herbs. Once done, switch off the heat and let it cool.
After the oil has finished infusing, strain it using a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth and transfer it into clean amber bottles. Label your bottles and store them in a cool, dark place. To increase the shelf life of the oil, you may add vitamin E oil at this stage.
Uses for Herbal Oils
Once you have your infused oil, you can use it in a variety of ways. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Add a few drops to your bath for a luxurious and nourishing soak.
- Use as a base for a healing salve or balm.
- Massage onto sore muscles or joints for pain relief.
- Use as a moisturizer for dry or irritated skin.
- Mix with a few drops of essential oil for a customized massage or aromatherapy blend.
Where to Buy Dried Herbs
If you don’t have access to local or homegrown herbs, I highly recommend purchasing them from Mountain Rose Herbs. They are my favorite place to buy high-quality, organic dried herbs and herbal products. As a company they believe in people, plants, and planet over profit and only ever source their herbs ethically and sustainably. It is through this ethical, responsible sourcing, that they are able to offer one of the largest selections of certified organic herbs, spices, and botanicals in North America.
As with any herbal remedy, it’s important to do your research and use caution when trying new ingredients. Some herbs may interact with medications or have side effects, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before using a new herbal remedy. Additionally, it’s important to source your herbs and carrier oils from reputable suppliers to ensure their quality and purity.
In conclusion, herbal oils are a wonderful way to extract the potent medicine from herbs for external use. Whether you’re using them to soothe sore muscles, heal irritated skin, or create a customized massage oil, herb-infused oils are a versatile and rewarding form of herbalism. So why not give it a try and start creating your own herbal remedies today? Your body (and your senses) will thank you!
Disclaimer- I am not a medical professional. All information shared here is for information and entertainment only. Do your own research and consult your health care provider before treating yourself with any product, plant or mixture.
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