The Power of the Sun
Harness the power of the sun when infusing herbs in oil using the simpler’s method.
Infusing oil with herbs turns the oil into medicinal preparations that can then be used for many things such as medicinal salves, body butter, creams, lotions, soaps, hair serums, massage oil, lip balms, and more.
There are a few methods of infusing oil, but my favorite is to harness the power of the sun to naturally infuse the oil with the goodness and medicinal properties of the herbs. This is often referred to as the simpler’s method and is used by many folk herbalists like myself. This method is based on ratios, where measurements are referred to as “parts”. For instance, 1 part dried herb to 5 parts oil is a very common ratio used in herbal oils.
My favorite topical-infused oil is calendula oil. This golden liquid is wonderfully soothing if you suffer from dry, itchy, or sore skin, and is super gentle, so can even be used by children. I also love chamomile, rose, and rosemary infused oil.
Calendula Infused in Olive OIl
Preparing Your Herbs
- You can generally use dried or fresh plant material when available, though some herbs, such as calendula or others with high water content, are better when dried.
- If using fresh herbs, pick them on a dry day after the sun has dried the morning dew.
- Only choose plant material from chemical or fertilizer-free areas. This is particularly important because you are not going to wash the plant material, so you want it to be as dry as possible to prevent spoilage.
- If using fresh herbs, chop them finely and fill the jar loosely to the top. Cutting them ensures that there will be more reactive with the oil.
- For dried herbs, roughly chop them and place them in the jar, filling it halfway.
- Fill the jar almost to the brim with oil. This reduces the amount of air in the jar. Too much air promotes oxidation and spoilage.
- Stir the contents until all the bubbles have dispersed. Cap your jar and label it with the contents and date.
- To really harness the power of the sun, you’ll want to leave it to infuse on a bright, sunny windowsill.
- Stir every day for the first two weeks then leave to infuse for another two to four weeks, that’s four to six weeks in total. Calendula and some other oils are nice to double infuse—leave for 3 weeks, strain, then fill the jar with fresh flowers and pour the partially infused oil back on top and repeat the process.
- After 6 weeks, strain your oil through a cheesecloth and discard herbs.
- Bottle the resulting oil and label and date.
The biggest factor in determining the quality of your homemade herbal oil depends on making sure that no oxidation or spoilage occurs. It is difficult to determine the strength of your herbs therefore it is important to take every precaution to reduce spoilage.
Using the highest quality oils is as just as important as the quality of the herbs used. Many organic carrier oils may be used, but Jojoba oil, Sunflower, and Olive oil are wise choices because they have a long shelf life and are suitable for a variety of applications.
Popular Herbs and their Uses
Arnica flowers – Used as an external oil. Use immediately after strenuous exertion or on minor bumps and bruises.
Calendula flowers – Oil infused with calendula flowers is soothing and is suitable for sensitive skin and for babies.
Chamomile – A chamomile-infused oil can be helpful in soothing irritated, dry, or flaky skin as well as easing tired limbs and rheumatic pains.
Chickweed – Wonderfully soothing for minor skin irritations and bug bites.
Comfrey root and leaf – Deeply penetrating and soothing. Often used topically or as an ingredient in a salve.
Dandelion – Soothing for the skin, makes a great body moisturizer
Forsythia Flowers – An excellent plant used for burns, cuts, scrapes, infections, and rashes.
Lemon Balm – Soothing for the skin.
Mullein flowers – Helps heal skin irritations. Very skin soothing.
Peppermint – Great oil for massaging into sore muscles.
Plantain – Skin-soothing oil – helps speed the recovery of damaged skin, blisters, and insect bites.
Purple Dead Nettle – Purple dead nettle like other mint family members usually grows with wild abandon and can spread profusely if left unchecked. Some gardeners and landscapers find it to be an invasive nuisance, but I love it for its nutritive properties and medicinal properties.
Rosemary leaf – A stimulating oil for hair treatments and sore muscles.
St. John’s Wort – Used topically for minor wounds, bruises, bee stings, scrapes, diaper rash, pain, and mild burns.
Thyme – Used externally for cuts and scrapes, and it is great for sore muscles.
Yarrow – Used for cuts, scrapes, rashes, and minor skin irritations.
Where to buy high-quality herbs
If you don’t have access to local or homegrown herbs, then I highly recommend Mountain Rose Herbs. They are my favorite place to buy high-quality, organic dried herbs and herbal products. They’re a wonderful company that believes in people, plants, and the planet over profit. Definitely my kind of company.
I hope that this article inspires you to harness the power of the sun for your own needs. Everything I’ve described here is very simple methods and can be considered some of the basics. But even these basic methods are effective and can produce amazing results when applied correctly. And as with any skill or knowledge, the more you practice it, the better you’ll become. So get out there and start doing some sun infusion!