What are Herbal Infused Oils?
Herbal infused oil are oils that have herbs soaked in them to extract medicinal or culinary properties. This transforms plants and oils into a healing or tasty balm for body and palate. Herbal infused oils are a great way to preserve your herb harvest and create skin, hair and culinary products that increase your confidence using herbs for health and cooking. In this article we will learn the Folk method of making your own herbal infused oils.
What is the folk method?
The folk method of making herbal infused oils is a very simple, easy method and a great place to begin your journey into herbal healing. It uses common ingredients and tools you probably already have around the house.
Basically, you soak fresh or dried plant material in a liquid oil for 6 weeks then decant and strain.
The other method of making herbal infused oils uses heat to speed up the extraction process, being careful not to overheat the oils.
Why make your own oils?
By making your own herbal infused oils you have complete control over the ingredients used. You can make a product for your specific need using ingredients you have sourced. Making your own oils means you will have fresh oils to use for your preparation, not a premade product that may have been sitting in a warehouse for months before purchase. And most importantly, you will have the satisfaction of making your own healing product and be more likely to have a positive outcome because you can make your herbal infused oil at a much lower cost than purchasing one. Making your own oil also allows you to use herbs that are healing but less commonly available such as St. John’s Wort oil or Yarrow oil.
How do you use herbal oils?
Herbal infused oils are rubbed into the skin for a soothing, skin healing treatment. They also serve as the basis for other oil-based preparations such as homemade soaps, salves, creams lotions, lip balm, massage oils, bath oils and hair and scalp treatments.
You can custom craft skin healing body care items using the following herbs:
Calendula-soothing irritated skin
Comfrey- healing wounds
St. John’s Wort- Easing sore muscles
Chamomile- Easing stress and relaxing
Plantain leaf-bug bites and other itching conditions
Culinary herbal infused oils can be made into vinaigrettes, mayonnaise, and sauces and as a finishing oil.
How do you make herbal infused oils?
To make your herbal infused oil you will need the following items.
1) A clean, dry jar with a lid
2) A liquid oil of your choosing. The most common oils used are olive oil and fractionated coconut oil as they have a long shelf life. However, any liquid oil can be used keeping in mind that some oils go rancid very quickly and some are exceedingly expensive. Sweet Almond oil or Grapeseed oil are common choices.
3) Fresh or dried herbs
4) Muslin cloth for straining
5) Funnel for straining
6) Label for identifying contents of the jar.
To use Dried plants-
fill jar ½ full with plant
Cover with oil of choice leaving no headspace in the jar.
Cap and shake. Poke plant to get air bubbles out.
Place jar on a plate to catch any oozing oil
Let sit in dark for 6 weeks
Strain through muslin cloth, squeezing to get out most of the oil.
Store out of direct light for up to 2 years depending on life of oil used.
To use Fresh Plant-
Fill jar full with fresh herb harvested during a dry day. You can wilt fresh plants by letting them sit out for a few hours after harvesting to let any bugs depart and let a bit of moisture leave the plant.
Cut plant as needed to fit in the jar.
Cover with oil. Poke with Clean knife or chopstick to release air bubbles. Make sure all plant material is covered in oil.
Cap jar. I use pickling lids to keep air out but let any gas escape. Place on a plate to catch any oozing oil
Let sit 6 weeks.
Look carefully at the plant in oil to see if any mold is forming. If mold is present, THROW ENTIRE BATCH AWAY. Once mold presents itself the oil can’t be saved.
Strain oil into a clean jar using a strainer lined with muslin. DO NOT SQUEEZE THE PLANT AND OIL! LET IT DRIP SLOWLY to decant. If you squeeze the plant to get out more oil you will squeeze out moisture from the fresh plant into the oil and increase the likelihood of mold forming.
Let oil sit for 24 hours. Look to see if there is any water settled on the bottom of the jar. Decant carefully leaving any water in the jar.
Store out of direct light for up to 2 years or life of the oil used.
To use HEAT Extraction-
Place dried herb in jar, cap, set jar in a crockpot filled with water set on low(100-140F) for 5 hours. I have used my Sous Vide wand to get exact temps. Remove jar from water bath, strain herbs as above.
For culinary herbs decant and use within 6 months in dressings, marinades or to add finishing flavor to meals.
For skin care/wound care decant and use within 2 years, depending on the life of the oil used.
NOTE: I do not use essential oils in my herbal oil preparations because I want to be able to smell if my oil has gone rancid as soon as possible.
Making your own Herbal infused oils is a great and easy way to enter the world of herbal healing. You will gain confidence in your crafting skills and save money while making effective and fresh oils you can use in a variety of ways.
The information presented is provided for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical advice or diagnosis provided by your physician or other medical professional. If you have, or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your physician or health care provider.