Well hello there! As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been taking the The Herbal Academy’s Introductory Herbal Course over the past several weeks, and I’ve been loving it! I already had a basic knowledge of medicinal herbs so I wasn’t sure how much I would learn from this course, but it has really surprised me how comprehensive it is. One important topic that this course covers is how to make infused herbal oils, which is the first step in making numerous body care recipes like herbal salves, body butters and creams (such as my calendula cream). This is a great time of year to start thinking about making herbal oils as you hopefully have some dried herbs laying around that you’ve collected throughout the summer.
The first thing you need to make an infused oil is dried herbs. It is very important that the herbs are totally dry before you combine them with oil, as they can cause rancidity otherwise. Many different types of herbs work well for making infused oils, especially lavender, rosemary, calendula, plantain, yarrow, comfrey, and mullein. If you don’t already have your own dried herbs, Mountain Rose Herbs has a great selection of medicinal herbs to choose from.
Then you will need to choose the oil that you want to use. I usually use a high quality, light olive oil, but there are many types of carrier oils that you can choose from.
Once you have those two simple ingredients, there are several ways of making infused herbal oils. The first one is probably the easiest, but it does take the most time. Simply put the dried herbs of your choice into a jar and cover them with oil.
Stir the mixture gently with a spoon to get as many of the air bubbles out as possible.
Then put in a sunny windowsill for several weeks to steep.
When you feel it’s ready, simply strain the herbs from the oil.
Cap with a lid and use as soon as possible. Once oils have been infused they have a shorter shelf life, so I try to only make as much as I’ll use within a few months. Any extra you might have should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.
There are quicker ways of making infused herbal oils, as well. You can use a double boiler by putting the herbs and oil in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Make sure that the oil doesn’t get too hot as to fry the herbs, and it should be done in a matter of hours. I’ve also used a mini slow cooker on the warm setting to make calendula oil with good results.
The last method that is recommended by the The Herbal Academy is oven extraction. I have never done this, but it’s the same idea as using a dehydrator. Put the dried herbs in oil, cover, and put in a low temperature oven for several hours, making sure not to cook the herbs.
Really, it’s as simple as that! One thing that this course has taught me is that herbal remedies don’t have to be difficult. While making an infused oil sounds like it could be complicated, it really is as easy as putting two ingredients together and letting them sit in the sun for a few weeks. If you can make a cup of tea then you can do this!
Now comes the fun part… deciding which herbs you want to infuse!