Welcome to the world of herbal oil infusion! Even if you aren't very familiar with infused herbal oils, it's highly possible that you have used them before in your cooking or in your skincare regime! First off, let's clarify what an infused herbal oil is exactly.
Herbal infused oils are created from herbs such as Calendula, Rosemary & Lavender that are submerged in a carrier oil such as olive or grape seed, and either gently warmed for several hours or left for at room temperature in a sunny window for a few weeks. Herbal oil infusions make fantastic bases for massage oils, ointments, balms and lotions - especially when combined with other carrier oils and blended with essential oils. This post will introduce warm & cold infusion!
A very popular infused herbal oil that can serve many purposes would be Rosemary infused olive oil. This oil is great for cooking as it can infuse your foods with delicate notes of Rosemary - seriously elevating your culinary experience. And, it can also be used topically to reveal its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties offering rejuvenating skin healing & hair strengthening. Add it to your bath, mix it in with a homemade body scrub, or use it as a carrier oil for essential oils on the go! There is so much to do with herbal infused oils. Now, let's give you the run down on how to make them!
A few tips:
- To get the highest quality infusion, use high-quality ingredients! We recommend sourcing dried, organic or wild harvested herbs. Carrier oils are best as extra-virgin and/or organic.
- Culinary oils specifically should be made with dried herbs to reduce risk of bacteria or mould growths in the oil.
- Always use dry, sterilized jars with tight-fitting lids when making herb infused oils using dried herbs to reduce the chance of bacteria or your oils going rancid due to oxidation. Be sure to label jars and bottles with dates and ingredients during the infusion process and after bottling for storage.
What You'll Need:
- Carrier oil(s) of choice, such as avocado (Persea americana), coconut (Cocos nucifera), grapeseed (Vitis vinifera), or olive (Olea europaea) oil
- Dried herb(s) of your choice such as calendula (Calendula officinalis), plantain (Plantago spp.), chickweed (Stellaria media), chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), or comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
- Natural waxed paper
- Sterilized, dry glass jar with a tight-fitting lid
- Sterilized Crockpot or Double Boiler
- Cheesecloth or finer cloth, such as a nut milk bag, muslin, an old (but clean!) T-shirt, or unbleached coffee filter (optional)
- Vitamin E oil (optional but recommended - it acts as a natural preservative to extend the oil's shelf life!)
To begin making an herbal infused oil, you’ll want to decide whether to use the folk method or the ratio method. The traditional folk method is the simplest method to make infusion, as it does not require any math! However, you may prefer to measure ingredient amounts, and if so you can use the more precise ratio method.
- To create an herbal infused oil using the folk method, simply fill a dry container half full with dried herb or herbs of your choice and pour room-temperature oil over the herb, making sure to completely cover the herb by 1 inch.
- To create an herbal infused oil using the ratio method, fill a dry container with 1 ounce of dried herb or herbs and pour 7 fluid ounces of room-temperature oil over the herbs. This results in a 1:7 ratio. Mind you, all plants are different. You may find that you some plants require less oil to yield a potent herbal oil; take time to experiment!
The steps to making a basic herbal infused oil are as follows.
- Place dried herbs in a dry, sterilized container and cover with the appropriate amount of room-temperature oil, based on whether you are using the folk or ratio method.
- Use a dry, sterilized spoon to mix thoroughly so all surfaces of the herb(s) are coated with oil and no air bubbles remain.
- Place a square piece of natural waxed paper on top of the jar, then seal jar with a lid (this protects the herbal oil from any chemical coating that may be on the lid).
- Roll jar back and forth in your hands to continue to thoroughly mix the herb and oil.
- Place the container in a dark, warm spot, such as a cupboard, out of direct sunlight, and let the mixture sit for 4-6 weeks. Stir or shake the herb and oil mixture to mix the contents and release the herbal constituents into the oil every few days.
- When the infusion time is up, place a cheese cloth within a funnel placed in the mouth of a dry, sterilized glass jar, and decant the mixture. With clean, dry hands, gather the cloth up and squeeze strongly, squeezing as much oil from the herbs as possible. Compost the herbs & cheesecloth (or save cheesecloth for another round of straining, if you can).
- Cover the jar, and let the oil settle overnight in a cool, dark location. This will allow any herb sediment to settle to the bottom of the jar. You can also strain the oil through a finer filter such as an unbleached coffee filter to remove sediment.
- Pour the oil into dry, sterilized, dark-colored glass bottles with dropper tops or caps and add a couple of drops of vitamin E oil to each container, if desired, to slow down the oxidation of the oil.
- Label, and store in a cool, dark location.
Bonus: Solar Infusion!
- Follow steps 1-3 above.
- Place container in a brown paper bag and leave in the sunniest window in your home for 1-2 weeks. The paper bag allows the sun rays to warm the oil without damaging or bleaching the herbs.
- Give the jar a good shake every few days to keep the infusion consistent.
- When the infusion process is finished, follow the directions in the warm-infusion method above for straining and bottling your herb-infused oil.
Let us know how your herbal infusion is going below in the comments. Happy medicine making!