Infused Herbal Oil
MAKES 4 OUNCES
Infused herbal oils differ from essential oils. They are vegetable oils in which dried herbs have been macerated, or soaked, for several weeks. The oil absorbs the fat-soluble healing components from the herbs. Infused oils can be applied directly to dry skin, whereas essential oils should always be diluted in a bath or a vegetable oil, known as a carrier. Infused oils, used as bath oils, can help protect against the dry skin of summer. The oils float on top of the water and coat your skin as you slip into the tub.
• 1/2 cup dried herbs—lavender, calendula, chamomile, rosemary, organic rose petals, or a combination
• Vegetable oil—almond, sesame, olive, hazelnut, or apricot—to cover, about 1/2 cup
1. Coarsely grind the herbs in a blender or clean coffee grinder.
2. Place the herbs in a wide-mouth jar and add enough oil to cover the herbs. (Depending on how dense the herb mixture is, you may need more or less oil.)
3. Seal or cover the jar.
4. Check the mixture in a day or two; if needed, add enough oil to keep the herbs covered.
5. Keep the jar in a warm place such as a sunny window (the ideal temperature is 100°F, but fluctuations in temperature will not harm the oil).
6. Allow the oil to soak for one to two weeks, or until it has taken on some of the color of the herbs.
7. To strain the oil, line a kitchen strainer with cheesecloth, muslin, or a thin flour-sack dishcloth and place the strainer over a bowl.
8. Put the oil/herb mixture into the strainer and let it drip for a day or two undisturbed.
9. Gather the corners of the cloth and wring out as much oil as possible.
10. Compost the herbs; decant the oil into a clean, resealable container (plastic is safest if you’ll be using it in the bath). If desired, add 25 drops of lavender essential oil to 2 ounces of the mixture.
11. Store the excess in the refrigerator. If the oil solidifies in the refrigerator, just hold the bottle under the stream of warm bath water to liquify it.
There are many variations on this preparation. Choose a vegetable oil such as olive or sesame for kitchen or medicinal preparations; use hazelnut, apricot, or almond oil for cosmetic applications or massage.
Click here for the main article, Skin That Loves Summer.
Mindy Green is an herbalist, aromatherapist, educator, and writer. She is also an esthetician, a consultant to the natural products industry, and director of education at the Herb Research Foundation in Boulder, Colorado. She is the author of Natural Perfumes (Interweave Press, 1999) and co-author of Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art (The Crossing Press, 1995).