In the process of brainstorming for a new line of homemade skincare products that I’m planning to make and sell on Etsy (stay tuned!) I’ve been experimenting with making homemade herbal infused oils. Herbal infused oils are, as the name suggests, oils that have been steeped with herbs for a period of time until the oil takes on some of the properties of that herb. Herbal infused oils make a wonderful addition to homemade salves, ointments, lotions, and other body care products. They can also be incorporated into massage oils, homemade soaps, or added to a hot bath.
Herbs with high levels of volatile oils (i.e. lavender, rosemary, peppermint, chamomile, pine, etc.) OR high level of fat-soluble components (i.e. calendula, mullein, comfrey, plantain, etc.) lend themselves well to making herbal infused oils.
Since I’ve been wanting to incorporate calendula into my own skincare regimen I decided to start there with my experimentation. If you’re not familiar with this wonder plant, check this out:
“Calendula has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, antifungal, antiviral, and immunostimulant properties making it useful for disinfecting and treating minor wounds, conjunctivitis, cuts, scrapes, chapped or chafed skin, bruises, burns, athlete’s foot, acne, yeast infections, bee stings, diaper rashes, and other minor irritations and infections of the skin.” –Mountain Rose Blog
Reading this, I’m left to wonder: What can’t calendula do?
That said, I hit up my local apothecary for some dried calendula petals and then my trusty kitchen cabinet for a recycled glass jar and some olive oil and I was ready to make calendula infused oil.
Choosing An Oil
I recommend choosing the oil for your infusion based on your final plans for your herbal oil. While I’ve read that olive oil is great for salves and ointments and almond oil is lovely for lip balms and oil-based skin moisturizers, I would advise you to use what you like. If this process is new to you, try deciding first what you’ll do with your herbal oil when it’s finished (see end of article for ideas), find a recipe, and then choose your oil, herbs, and method from there. I chose to infuse my calendula petals in olive oil and hope to make a calendula salve with it when it is finished.
Choosing an Infusion Method
There are a few different ways to make herbal infused oils. Choose a method based on the type of herb you are using and whether you are using fresh or dried herbs. I recommend doing some quick Google research to see which method best suits your herb and oil of choice. Below is a brief overview of your herb-infusion options. I decided to go with a cold-infusion process for my calendula petals.
1. Cold-infused Herbal Oil: The cold-infusion method is simple. Here are the basic steps.
Step 1: Fill a glass jar halfway with herbs.
Step 2: Pour oil over herbs, covering by at least an inch.
Step 3: Stir with chopstick or knife to release air bubbles.
Step 4: Shake daily for 2 to 8 weeks.
Step 5: Strain herbs through cheesecloth and store herb-infused oil for use!
2. Sun-infused Herbal Oil: To make solar, or sun-infused herbal oil, start by following the directions above for cold-infused herbal oil. The only difference with this method is that you will place your steeping herbs on a sunny counter or windowsill while they are infusing to allow the warmth of the sun to assist in the process. Some folks choose to place their jar inside a paper bag to prevent damage to the herbs or oil from the sun’s UV rays.
3. Heat-infused Herbal Oil: With this quick method you can make herbal infused oils in one afternoon. Basically, you combine the herbs and oil in a double boiler, crock pot, or electric yogurt maker and heat slowly over low heat (100°-140°) for 2 to 5 hours, then strain and you are done!
To learn more about each of the above methods, use the title links provided!
Using Your Herbal Infused Oil
Once you’ve made your herbal infused oil, you’ll probably want to use it. But how? Great question!
Below are some fun recipes & uses for homemade herbal infused oils to get you started!