Herb-infused oil is a wonderful way to add extra herbal power to your homemade skincare products and remedies.
The benefit of infusing oil with herbs is that the properties of the herbs are transferred to the oil. Once the herbs are strained out, the oil retains the herbs goodness.
There are a number of different methods of creating herb-infused oils, the method you choose will likely depend on the time needed to access the oil.
If you are in a hurry, choose one of the hot diffusion methods, if you are planning ahead and have some time to spare, go for the cold diffusion method.
The cold diffusion method is my first pick whenever possible, as it keeps more of the beneficial properties of the plant intact. It takes no more time up front but requires waiting for about four weeks while the oil is infused.
Should Dried or Fresh Flowers be used in infused oils?
I generally use dried herbs and flowers when creating oil infusions, as the water that may be present on fresh herbs and flowers could cause bacteria to grow. If you choose to use fresh flowers, be sure they are clean and dry before beginning.
It’s best to let flowers dry for a few days before using.
Which oil to use?
When making an herb-infused oil, olive oil is the most popular choice. This is because olive oil is a sturdy oil with a decent shelf life. It resists oxidation and is less likely to go rancid than other more fragile oils.
Olive oil is also great for the skin.
However, that said, many other oils would work very well.
Some possibilities include:
- grapeseed oil (where to buy)
- sweet almond oil (where to buy)
- apricot kernel oil (where to buy)
- sunflower oil (where to buy)
- jojoba oil (where to buy)
Coconut oil will also work but will need to be infused using one of the hot methods due to its solid state.
Common measurements for creating herb-infused oils via the solar method include filling the jar ¼ to ½ full with herbs, then filling the jar with oil.
If you would like a more precise measurement, use the common ratio of one ounce dried herb to 10 ounces of oil.
Place herbs into a clean jar and add the carrier oil. Close jar and leave herbs to infuse for 4-6 weeks.
Jar needs to be placed in a consistently warm area, but out of direct sunlight.
Make sure your lid is secured tightly and your herbs are totally submerged into the carrier oil. As you think of it, stop by and give your jar a gentle shake every now and then.
Once infused, strain out the herbs.
Hot-infusion methods allow you to create infused oils in a shorter time frame (one day instead of weeks!). I still prefer the col-infusion method as it keeps more of the herbs beneficial properties intact. However, the hot infusion method is perfectly acceptable and will allow you to create needed remedies and body products right when you need them.
1. The Oven Method
To infuse using the oven method, place herbs in an ovenproof bowl or baking dish. Stir to combine. Try to submerge all of the herbs, but don’t worry if they are not completely covered.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees and place bowl or baking dish with herb/oil mixture into the oven. TURN THE OVEN OFF (sorry for the all-caps, but I didn't want you to miss this step!). Leave herbs to infuse for 3-4 hours.
Once infused, remove from the oven and strain out the herbs.
2. Stove-Top Method
Similar to the methods used to melt butters, oils and herbs can be warmed in the top of a double boiler, or placed in a jar that is then put in a pot with a few inches of water.
Warm over a low to medium heat so the oil gets warm, but not hot (never boiling).
Use a chopstick or spoon to gently stir the herbs every now and then.
Warm oil for about 20 minutes then remove from the stove. Cover and let sit for at least 3 hours.
Once oil is sufficiently infused, strain out the herbs.
How to Strain Herbs
Place a strainer over a bowl and lay a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter across it.
Pour the herbs and oils into the bowl, through the cheesecloth. It may look like there are more herbs than oil!
Squeeze mixture inside the cheesecloth to help extract all of the oil.
Once you have extracted as much oil as possible, discard the herbs.
You now have an infused oil!
Important Notes for Best Herb-Infused Oil
- always use good quality dried herbs (and make sure they are actually dry…damp herbs could lead to spoilage)
- always use clean and sterilized jars and utensils
- if using the cold infusion method, be sure to always use tight-fitting lids
- make sure hands and working area are clean
- label jars with name of herb, oil used, and date infusion was started (or should end), so you know what is inside. Believe me, it's easier to forget than you might think!