Use the sun to naturally infuse oil with the goodness of herbs!
Simply infusing a carrier oil with herbs will transform it into a versatile ingredient for a variety of preparations. There are several ways to infuse oils, but my favorite is the Folk or Simpler’s Method which relies upon the sun to naturally infuse oil with herbal properties. You can use countless herbs, and listed below are some of the most popular choices. Many different organic carrier oils may be used, but jojoba oil and olive oil are wise choices because they have a long shelf life and are suitable for many applications. You can use herbal infused oils to create massage oils, salves, lip balms, facial serums, hair treatments, body creams, soaps, and more!
Folk Method for Solar Infused Oils
- Place herbs in a clean quart jar. If using fresh herbs, wilt them first for 12 hours to remove the moisture (too much moisture will cause your oil to go rancid), cut into small pieces, and crush with amortar and pestle before adding to the jar. You can skip these extra steps if your herbs are dried. You can find an extensive selection of dried herbs here.
- Pour oil into the jar, making sure to cover herbs by at least 1” of oil and leaving at least 1/2” of space at the top of the jar so the herbs will have room to expand. If your herbs soak up all of the oil, then pour more on top to ensure that the herbs are well covered.
- Stir well and cap the jar tightly.
- Place the jar in a sunny and warm windowsill. Shake once or more per day. You can also cover the jar with a brown paper bag if you prefer that to direct sunlight.
- After 4-6 weeks, strain the herbs out of the oil using cheesecloth. Make sure and squeeze every precious drop of oil out!
- Pour into glass bottles and store in a cool dark place. The oil should keep for at least a year. Vitamin E oil may also be added to prolong the shelf life.
Herbs to Infuse:
Arnica flowers – Indispensable as an external oil. Use immediately after strenuous exertion.
Calendula flowers – One of my favorite oils with a myriad of uses. Oil infused with calendula flowers is suitable for sensitive skin and for babies.
Cayenne peppers – Used for occasional soreness.
Cedar leaf – Powerful for minor skin irritations.
Chickweed – Wonderful for minor skin irritations.
Comfrey root and leaf – Deeply penetrating and traditionally used as a topical oil or as an ingredient in salve.
Goldenseal or Oregon Grape root – Wonderful for minor skin irritations.
Lemon Balm – Cooling and calming to the skin.
Mullein flowers – A classic oil used as ear oil.
Myrrh gum – Powerful for minor skin irritations.
Peppermint – Great for massaging into occasional sore muscles.
Plantain – Helps ease minor skin irritations.
Poke root – Traditionally used as a woman’s ally for breast massages.
Rosemary leaf – A stimulating oil for hair treatments, occasional sore muscles, or even for culinary use.
St. John’s Wort – Craft this red-colored oil made from freshly gathered St. John’s Wort. The oil is deeply penetrating for occasional soreness.
Thyme – A strong preparation used for minor skin irritations, and it is great for occasional sore muscles.
Yarrow – Used for minor skin irritations.
Feel free to combine herbs or infused oils to create special blends:
Floral Oil – An aromatic oil which will lift the spirits and smells divine. Apply to the skin after a shower, bath, or during a massage. The oil will be moisturizing, relaxing, and calming. To make, infuseorganic rose petals, lavender flowers, or chamomile flowers in organic jojoba oil.
Relaxation Oil – A fragrant blend of relaxing herbs used after a nighttime bath or shower to help encourage natural relaxation, tranquility, and sleep. You can also rub a bit on your temples at night before going to bed. Infuse a mixture of organic hops, chamomile flowers, and lavender flowersin organic olive or jojoba oil.
Quick Method for Infusing Oils
Another way to infuse oils, which is sometimes necessary when herbal oils need to be created in a pinch, is the quick method which utilizes heat. Much care needs to be taken when creating herbal oils this way because you don’t want to deep-fry your herbs! Place herbs in crock-pot, double boiler, or electric yogurt maker, and cover with organic extra virgin olive oil (or other carrier oil of choice) leaving at least an inch or two of oil above the herbs. Gently heat the herbs over very low heat (preferably between 100 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1-5 hours until the oil takes on the color and scent of the herb. Some texts recommend heating the oil 48-72 hours at a controlled temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Once the oil is ready, strain using cheesecloth, and bottle into dry and sterilized amber bottles for storage. Store in a dark and cool place. Vitamin E oil may also be added to prolong the shelf life.