Herbal infused oils are a wonderful addition to any soap maker's supply cabinet. You can create simple infused oils for your own personal use.
(catnip, lavender, hops, arnica, rose hips and petals, St. Johns Wort, calendula, juniper berry blend)
Properly prepared herbs, whether they are wild gathered, garden grown or purchased from a reputable supplier, are important. It is as simple as air drying until the leaves or flowers are crispy and the stems are dry. Herbal root infusions follow the same procedures, finely chopped roots allow for even drying. My previous blog post on proper procedures will offer guidance on air drying your herb harvest.
The herbal infusions will result in a truly beautiful array of natural scents and colors. You can enhance the strength with the addition of pure essential oils after the oil has been strained and bottled ready for use or storage.
Just a word of warning, I do not recommend wild harvesting plant material unless you are well experienced at identification. Best practices would be to utilize ingredients from a trusted supplier, grown in your own garden or work with a knowledgeable herbalist.
It is important to work with dried plant materials because water content in fresh herbs increases the chance of contaminating your infusion.
I use cold infusion because I prefer to keep the essential oils of the plant as close to nature as possible. I enjoy the time honored method of a long slow infusion, observing the subtle changes as the essential oils steep into the carrier oil while the filled jars sit gleaming in the late summer sunshine.
You can use any fresh, high quality oil of your choice. I often choose cold pressed organic olive oil. I also use apricot kernel or fractionated coconut oil because they are easily absorbed into the skin. Jojoba, sunflower and sweet almond are other suitable choices.
Choose a clean, dry glass jar with a lid, I run mine through the dishwasher before use. A wide mouth pint or quart mason jar works well. Fill the jar loosely packed with the dried herb or herb combination of your choice. Pour your oil over the herbs filling the jar close to the top. I leave a little space at the top for ease when shaking to blend. Cover and shake to be sure the oil surrounds the herbs. Always label your project with care each step of the process.
Place on a sunny window sill for 6 weeks, shaking once a day.
After the 6 week infusion, carefully strain the herbs from the oil using several layers of cheesecloth over a fine sieve strainer. I usually repeat the straining to assure a clean finished product.
If you desire, you can achieve a stronger infusion by repeating the process. Discard the used herbs, using the strained oil and adding a second portion of dried herbs resulting in a double strength finished product.
If you prefer, you can add the dried herbs to layers of cheese cloth, gather the ends and tie off into a pouch instead of working with just the plant material in the oils. You can use a cotton muslin bag or a new piece of hosiery to achieve the same effect.
Add the pouch to a jar of oil similar to a tea bag. This makes it easier to strain as most of the plant material remains in the cloth for removal. The same result can be achieved with a piece of clean hosiery.
Gentle heat infusion can also be used. You can use a low 175 degree warm oven, stove top, bain marie or crock pot on low setting. Allow the herbs to steep in the constantly warming oils for at least 24 hours before straining for storage.
Store your strained infused oils protected from light in an amber, cobalt or violet glass bottles in a cool, dark cupboard or refrigerator. I label my dried herbs and oil fusions with the year of harvest, name of the herb as well as the source - my own herb garden, the herb gardens at our White Bridge Farm, the Amish Market, wild harvest location or with the name of the friend or herbalist from whom I acquired that particular batch.
You can create your balm by using three parts of warmed herb infused oil with one part melted bees, soy or candelilla wax. If you want a firmer balm use more wax, for a softer ointment consistency reduce the wax. You can also add a little melted cocoa or shea butter. Pour the melted salve into a clean tin
or jar and allow to cool.
You can find my handmade soaps and body products created with my herbal infusions by clicking on the "home" tab at the upper left of this page or at www.alleghenyhearth.com.
Thanks for visiting,
By Guest on 05/01/2014 @ 01:32am Thank you for this information. It was clear and to the point.
By Soapsmith on 07/23/2013 @ 08:04pm You can use the infused oils just as you would use any oil in your recipe. They are not as strong as essential oils as they are just infused with the herbs. I always add my essential oils at the beginning of the recipe anyway, but if you hold your essential oils to the end the infused oils would not be the same - think of the infused oil as the same as regular olive oil in your recipe rather than treating them as essential oils. Hope that helps.
By Guest on 07/23/2013 @ 06:54pm I want to use my infused herbal oils for soap making, but cannot find any definitive info on how much I should use in a recipe. All are infused with olive oil - can I use this at the beginning of the process or do I use them as I would essential oils in the recipe? Thank you!
By Guest on 09/16/2012 @ 03:50pmVery helpful. I am infusing oils at this very minute. I have not made soap for many years, and am anxious to get back into it.