Why make an herbal oil?
Herbal infused oils can be very versatile. You can infuse an oil for cooking with and eating or you can infuse an oil to use topically, or perhaps, both. External oils can be used to make salves, lip balms, creams and lotions. Or topical herbal infused oils are a great base for massage oils (add your favorite essential oils and you can have an oil that will go deeper with the herbal infusion and also stimulate the olfactory glands with aromatherapy).
But most importantly…infusing herbs in oil allows us to extract fats and fat soluble healing constituents as well as volatile oils from the plants. So, when you are considering which plant to infuse, realize that you must choose a plant with desirable fat soluble constituents and/or volatile oils.
What oils to use?
There are many different types of oils that you can infuse with herbs. But for starters, it is best to make an oil with something that is cold-pressed because heating oils can quickly lead to rancidity. Also, different oils have different consistencies and work with the skin in various ways. I will list some oils that can be infused and what part of the body they work best with. However, I encourage everyone to start with organic, extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil can be used externally on the body and also be taken internally. Depending on what herb you choose to infuse, will determine what you can use your herbal infused olive oil for.
**Olive oil: Due to its thickness, olive oil does not absorb readily into the skin, but makes a great oil for everyone to use (HYPOALLERGENIC!)
Coconut oil: For skin care; soothing; helps with stretch marks. This oil solidifies at room temperature and, therefore, makes a great ointment.
Avocado oil: Rich oil that makes a lovely infusion. Thick on the skin. If you like the creamy taste of avocado it is ever present in an edible herbal infused oil.
Grapeseed oil: Great for general skin care. Best used as a massage oil, that absorbs quickly into the skin.
Hazelnut oil: This oil moisturizes, softens and repairs dry and damaged skin. It can be used for as a massage carrier oil.
Evening Primrose oil: Helps premenstrual stress. Relieves menstrual pain, reduces inflammation, and is both moisturizing and soothing to the skin. *This is such a lovely oil by itself that I might combine it with other herbal infused oils.
Rose Hip Seed oil: Skin regenerating, wrinkle reducing and overall moisturizing. So lovely on its own, I would be hesitant to make an herbal infused Rose Hip Seed Oil.
Sea Buckthorn: This is another oil I would ADD to an herbal infused oil. Sea Buckthorn is super rich and is warming, so it helps with circulation, it’s relaxing and uplifts the mood, it loosens up tight muscles and soften and heals the skin. WOW, this is some HOT oil!
Jojoba: Great base for essential oils, not as easy to work with for herbal infusions. Jojoba is wonderful for the skin, it helps; moisten and soften dry skin, stretch marks, scalp and hair care, and has some sun-protection properties if used as a sun tanning oil.
How does one make a medicinal oil?
Like the many kinds of oils and herbs, there are many different ways to make an herbal infusion! I find a lot of people teach beginners to make an oil infusion with simply your oil and herb. However, I was taught differently and led to believe that oil does not effectively extract healing constituents from a dried plant. I only use hot water with dried plants (infusions, decoctions and teas). So, here’s how you make an oil using fresh plant material and oil…
_Crockpot WITHOUT a lid
_Fresh plant material
_Oil of choice
1. Chop fresh herb into crock pot.
2. Pour enough oil to cover the herb with an additional ¼ inch on top.
3. Let sit WITHOUT LID on LOW for 3-4 days.
4. Some herbs absorb the oil, so check on it the following day and make sure the herb is still covered with oil.
5. The aroma of the herb will be present throughout the house and by day 3 or 4, your herb should be crisp and dry (there’s nothing left to extract).
6. When infusion is complete, strain the oil from the herb with mesh bag and strainer (DO NOT PRESS THE REMAININF PULP INTO THE OIL… since you are using fresh plant material, that will become apart of your oil and potentially add moisture, increasing the chances on rancidity).
7. Let the herb sit in strainer until majority of oil has dripped out.
8. Bottle in glass containers, cap tightly, label, and store in a cool dark place.
If the oil is stored in a cool place and isn’t poked with contaminated fingers or used utensils, it can keep for a year to more! Smell your oil to make sure it doesn’t have a sour, rancid odor.