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Infusing herbs in oil is super-simple and takes just a few minutes. And once you have your infused oils, you can create all sorts of natural remedies that are potent and effective. Definitely try one of these simple and natural techniques today!

 

Herbs are potent and wonderful, both in flavor and in their ability to bring healing and relief to our bodies.

While there are many ways in which to use herbs, one common way is to infuse the oils with herbs. This is lovely in the kitchen, say with a garlic-and-rosemary infused olive oil that you drizzle over a salad or a steak, as well as medicinally, such as when you infuse grapeseed oil with calendula or arnica to then use in a healing salve or cream.

Thus, this is an effective technique to use regularly in your home – and as you can see in the instructions below, is blissfully simple.

 

Why Should I Infuse Herbs?

This is simple.

Herbs contain a lovely array of beneficial properties. For example, taking echinacea, which is a common weed, at the onset of a cold or flu is well-documented as shortening or lessening the effect of the illness.

But we can't exactly just pick up a plant and start chewing on it to receive the best benefit from it!

So we use various menstruums to extract the benefits from the plant so we can use them. Sometimes it's alcohol for a tincture, sometimes it's water for a tea or an infusion, and sometimes it's in oil for the use in salves and ointments, as well as to drizzle over food simply for the dazzling flavor it provides.

 

Which Oils Can I Use to Infuse Herbs?

Any oil that remains liquid can be infused with herbs. I like to keep in mind the final use: if I'm infusing a massage oil, for example, I like to use oils like almond and jojoba that quickly rub into the skin without being greasy. Or, if I'm infusing an oil that will specifically be used as the base of a healing salve, I like to use grapeseed oil or olive oil, as they're lovely on the skin.

And of course, there's the personal preference of which oils you source. I personally prefer to stay away from any oil that has been extracted using hexane or other solvents and prefer pressed oils simply so any chemical residues won't be rubbed into the skin or ingested, but that's entirely up to you.

And that's the crux, really – there's really no right or wrong oil to choose. (Unless you choose cod liver oil as a base for a lotion and end up smelling like fish… I jest, of course!) The usual common sense rules certainly apply.

A few favorite oils for infusing herbs:

  • Sunflower oil
  • Olive oil
  • Castor oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sweet almond oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Avocado oil

Firm oils, such as coconut oil, may also be used, but ONLY if they remain liquid the entire time they are infusing, so the Countertop Method (see the methods below) won't work for firm oils.

 

Happy infusing!

Interested in getting the most out of herbs? I go into greater detail in my book, The Thinking Parent's Guide to Natural Remedies, which will be released in mid-May 2017!

 

 

How to Infuse Oils

Please note: I strongly recommend using dried herbs. However, if you desire fresh herbs, wilt them first for 12-24 hours to remove some of the moisture (too much water will cause your oil to go rancid and can allow for dangerous bacterial growth), cut them into small pieces, then strain the oil within a few days.

Place your herbs in a jar, then pour over enough oil to cover the herbs by at least one inch. Also leave at least one inch of headspace to allow for the herbs to expand. Shake gently to cover all herbs with oil, then infuse using one of the following methods.

 

There are four methods for infusing herbal oils:

Countertop Method

Place the herbs in a canning jar and cover with oil, making sure the herbs are covered with at least one inch of oil above the herbs (to allow for expansion and to ensure the herbs are not exposed to air). Screw the lid on tightly and leave on the countertop for 3-4 weeks, shaking daily.

Strain herbs from the oil by pouring through a cheesecloth. Let all the oil drip out and then squeeze the herbs to extract the remaining oil.

Discard herbs.

Low-Heat Method

Place the herbs and oils in a double-boiler and heat over the absolutely lowest possible heat on the stove until the oil is deeply colored, 2-4 hours. You may also heat the oven to 200°F, turn it off, and placed the melted oils and herbs in the oven for 4-6 hours.

Strain herbs from the oil by pouring through a cheesecloth. Let all the oil drip out and then squeeze the herbs to extract the remaining oil.

Discard herbs.

Slow Cooker Method

Combine the herbs and oil in a canning jar with an airtight lid. Place a tea towel in the bottom of a slow cooker to keep the jar (or jars) from rattling around and set the jar on top. Pour in enough water to come about three-quarters of the way up the sides of the jar. Place on LOW heat and let sit for 10-12 hours, uncovered, until the oil is deeply colored.

Strain herbs from the oil by pouring through a cheesecloth. Let all the oil drip out and then squeeze the herbs to extract the remaining oil.

Discard herbs.

Solar Method

Place the herbs in a jar and cover with oil, making sure the herbs are covered with at least one inch of oil above the herbs (to allow for expansion and to ensure the herbs are not exposed to air). Screw the lid on tightly and place in the sun – such as a sunny, warm windowsill – for 2-4 weeks, shaking gently daily.

If you prefer to keep your oils out of the light, you may place a paper grocery bag or lunch sack over the jar so that you still receive the sun's rays without exposing it to light.

Strain herbs from the oil by pouring through a cheesecloth. Let all the oil drip out and then squeeze the herbs to extract the remaining oil.

Discard herbs.

 

For all four methods, to create an extra-thoroughly strained oil with no herb debris remaining, let the strained oil sit for 12-24 hours to allow any remaining sediment to settle to the bottom, then pour off the clear oil on top and compost the remaining dregs.

For an extra-potent medicinal oil, you may also double-infuse, which means that once you have strained your oil, if you would like to start over at the beginning with a new batch of dried herbs in the same oil in order to increase its potency, you may.

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2 thoughts on “How to Infuse Oils with Herbs for Natural Remedies

    • Kresha Faber says:

      These are definitely not essential oils! These are simply carrier oils that you infuse with the herbs. Essential oils are oils that are extracted out of the plants themselves. You can add essential oils to these infusions when you use them if you so desire, but they are two very different things.

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