Friday, November 18, 2005

How to make an herb infused oil (Herbal information/food)

I realized that though I've blogged about making aromatherapy (essential oil) body/massage/bath oils, herb tinctures, herb infused vinegars, and herbal infusions (tea), I've never mentioned herb infused oils. Herb infused oils have a wide range of uses; depending on the herbs used, they are wonderful in skin care recipes (such as balms, salves, creams, lotions, body/massage/bath oil, hair oil/conditioners), and are also awesome to use in cooking! Making an herb infused oil is similar to making an herb tincture or herb infused vinegar.

There are basically two ways to make an herb infused oil:

Traditional way:

To a very clean and sterile glass jar, fill it with fresh or dried herbs, and cover the herbs with oil (like olive oil or your favorite). Keep it in a dark place and let infuse 3-6 weeks. Strain. Store in dark place or the refrigerator. The ratios of herb to oil can vary: I've seen it range from 1:1, 2:1, or a 4:1 ratio. I usually just fill the jar with herbs and then pour enough oil to cover the herbs.

Some people recommend infusing it in a sunny place (to make a solar infused herb oil) or warming up the oil a tad before adding the herbs, but I don't think it's necessary. I never understood the solar method since essential oils are destroyed by sunlight. Fresh herbs are preferred, but I've made many nice herb infused oils out of dried herbs as well. It helps to slightly chop the herbs before infusing, so that the essential oils and other herbal constitutes can be more easily released.

Note: I highly recommend storing in the fridge, though some oils such as olive may solidify over time. If this happens, simply place the bottle in a warm water bath for a few minutes to gently bring the oil to room temperature.

Fast way:
Over low heat, warm the oil and the roughly chopped herbs for 1-3 hours until the oil is well infused by the herb's essences.
Be sure to watch carefully, do NOT to bring this mixture to a boil or burn the herbs, as too much heat will destroy vitamins and the herb's constitutes, and burnt herbs will impart a burnt taste to the oil.


For a body/massage/bath oil or for use in skin care, try an oil made with some of these herbs: chamomile, lavender, calendula, rose

Salves/balms: the herbs in the list above, comfrey

For a wonderful hair oil/conditioner: rosemary, sage, nettle, horsetail

For food: rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic, chili peppers


beXn said...

Yum! We have some fresh sage. Any suggestions or a recommended recipe?

Solarkat said...

Hi Bexnnie,

Sage infused oil (made with olive oil) is yummy on fresh baked bread, salads, fake 'chicken', garlic bread, croutons, in veggie stews, on french bread pizza, --just about anything you usually use olive oil on.

For beauty uses:

you could make it and use it in brown sugar or salt scrubs (though for your oily skin, I'd use grapeseed oil instead of olive)

For deep conditioning of hair: apply 1-2 teaspoons (no more) to damp hair, let sit for an hour, then shampoo out. You may have to shampoo twice. (Don't use too much or it'll be hard to get the oil out). This is good even for oily hair, as sometimes providing a small amount of natural oils will actually slow down the skin's and hair's own oil production.