In the very first class I took about how to use herbal remedies I was taught how to infuse herbal oils. These oils are divine. Infused oils are used to nourish and heal the skin using the benefits of the whole herb, not just the essential oils.
Last Christmas I made herbal infused oils as gifts. My dad loves taking baths after a hard day at work or out in the yard. I made a soothing bath oil for him that he loved.
Herbal bath oils are an easy gift anyone will love.
This year I am making several infused oils as gifts. You see, this year at our home we have committed to having a handmade holiday. When I was growing up we didn’t have a lot of money. We were raised with the mindset that Christmas was about giving. Giving to others in need, giving to others without them even knowing our name. No thanks needed. Giving a well thought gift with love is what we had to give.
Now people have a big case of the give-me’s. I am saddened by all the parents spending thousands of dollars on their children every year for toxic junk their kids will play with once and toss aside. The only effort involved being paying down the credit cards for the rest of the year. Where is the meaning of Christmas? What ARE we celebrating anyway?
So this year we made the commitment to make handmade holiday gifts. Most of them are inexpensive, but from the heart.
How to infuse oil
The first thing you need to know is how to infuse oil. Every herbalist has their own spin on how they infuse their oils. I stick with two simple ways.
Infuse over time:
- Add dry herbs to a mason jar and cover them with oil of choice having 1 inch extra oil above the herbs.
- Cover with a lid or cheese cloth and place it in a warm, sunlight filled area.
- Shake the mason jar every day for 6-8 weeks and your oil is infused!
- Strain through cheese cloth and squeeze out every last morsel of oil from the herbs. There are lots of nutrients in that last few drops that cling to the plant.
This is the most medicinally beneficial way to infuse herbs. It can be done with fresh herbs too but requires caution because botulism can fester because of the moisture from the herbs. It also requires a lot of patience.
Infuse with heat:
- Place the herbs and oils of your choice into the mason jar or pyrex dish as before.
- Put the glass container with the herbs and oils into a hot water bath in another pan on medium/low heat. The water should be level or almost level with the oil.
- Keep the water evaporating but not boiling for 2-8 hours adding water occasionally to keep the level high.
- Strain through cheese cloth once the oil has cooled and squeeze out every last morsel of oil from the herbs. There are lots of nutrients in that last few drops that cling to the plant.
- Decant oil into container you are using as a gift.
This is the method I use most often. It still has great medicinal benefit, smells divine and works great. Some people use a crock pot instead of water of a stove. My crockpot is too hot and burns the oil so be sure you are not frying your herbs.
Oils you can use
You can infuse just about any oil. You can even make oil blends specific to skin issues. The most common oil to use is Olive Oil. I would go through the most popular oils with you but Axiom at Home already did a lot of the work for me. Part 1: Almond, Coconut & Avocado, Part 2: Meadow Foam Seed, Jojoba Oil, Hemp Seed Oil, Part 3: Grapeseed, Kukui Nut and Olive Oil. I would also like to mention apricot seed oil is wonderful for sensitive highly allergenic skin. Mix and match as you please!
Calming Herb Blend
This blend is soothing to the body and soul. It is perfect for anyone with a stressful job, nervous tension, or who is high strung. This blend is great for children too by replacing the lemon balm with catnip.
- 1/2 C Chamomile
- 1/2 C Lemon Balm
- 1/2 C Lavender
- Enough oil to cover the herbs with an extra inch above them (about 3 C)
Sore Muscle Blend
This is perfect for someone who works hard with physical labor or who suffers from pain.
- 1/4 C Yarrow
- 1/2 C Arnica
- 1/4 C Rosemary
- 1/4 C Ginger
- 1/4 C Basil
- Enough oil to cover the herbs with an extra inch on top
Dry Skin Blend
This blends feminine aroma may be off-putting to the manly man but it is wonderful for dry skin.
- 1/2 C Rose Petals
- 1/4 C Chamomile
- 1/4 C Lavender
- 1/4 C Calendula
- 1/4 C Nettle or Plantain leaf
- Enough oil to cover herbs with an extra inch of oil on top.
Infuse your oil and decant into a container of your choice. I have given people I know will love the oils a re-purposed wine bottle filled with the fragrant oil. For smaller gifts an amber bottle with a pump top is perfect for easy application.
Infused oils are good for the shelf life of your base oil. This is usually from 3 months to 1 year.
For other great homemade gift ideas see the other posts in my series:
- Herbal Bath Salts
- Coffee Honey Sugar Scrub
- Lotion Bars
- Cinnamon Ornaments
- Vanilla Extract
- DIY Body Butter
What herbs do you love to use in an infused oil?