How to Make a Basic Herbal Oil Infusion
Creating an herb infused oil sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. There are a few different ways to make an infused oil, but the first thing you need is fresh herbs.
Choosing and Drying Herbs and Flowers
I collect spearmint, plantain leaves, lemon balm, dead nettle, calendula, St. Johns wort, rosemary, and sage from my yard and garden regularly through the summer. There is an abundance of it this time of year so I try to preserve as much as I can to last through the cooler months! Pick your own or source from a high quality herb supplier- just make sure the plants aren't grown with pesticides and chemical based fertilizers or you'll be absorbing those same chemicals into your skin- yuck! Always do your research!
If you foraged your own herbs, you'll need to dry them before you infuse or you run the risk of your oil turning rancid and no one wants that. Hang herbs upside down for several weeks, use a drying screen, or if you're in a hurry and happen to have a food dehydrator- you can use that too. Trust your nose. If it smells slightly sour or off, toss is out and try again.
Choosing a Base Oil
There's no wrong choice when choosing a carrier oil. My skin loves almond and avocado oil, but coconut or olive oil work just as well.
If you're doing carrier oil research or need some suggestions, check out my Carrier Oil Pinterest board for a quick reference.
Making an Herb Infused Oil
Sun Infused Method
There are several different methods for infusing your medicinal herbs, but I prefer to let the sun naturally infuse the oil. Slow and steady always gives me the perfect results.
Crush your dried herbs,put them in your infusion jar, then cover with oil. Place the jar in a warm, sunny window and shake daily for 2-3 weeks.
I have mason jars in my kitchen window all summer long and shake them after I do dishes habitually so I don't forget.
Quick Infusion Method
If you need your infused oil quickly, you can gently heat the herbs in the oil over a double boiler or in a slow cooker on very low heat. Have you seen the mini crock pots? They're PERFECT for oil infusions (and dips too)!
Crush up your dried herbs, put them in your crock pot, and cover with oil. Heat for several hours on the lowest setting, making sure that it doesn’t get too hot and actually cook the herbs. You'll know the herbs cooked if it smells rancid or off. Trust your nose.
I usually put everything in the pot after dinner and turn the heat off before bed, letting the herbs continue to steep overnight. I come back to strain the herbs about 12 hours later but there's wiggle room.
Straining your Herbs
You will need:
Strain herbs with a sieve and fine mesh cheesecloth making sure you squeeze every last bit of oil out of the plant matter. Your oil will be a gorgeous shade of green and will vary depending on the herbs you've infused.
You can use your homemade herbal infused oil to make any number of creations. I use mine for naturally healing balms, butters, and salves with a variety of additives for medicinal benefits but you can use the same method for infusing fresh herbs such as basil or thyme into cooking oil as well.
Check out some of our favorite DIY recipes around the HandKraffted Blog: