Here’s how to make herbal infused oil

herbal-oil

Here’s how to make herbal infused oil

26.3.2020


The way to benefit from active ingredients of the plants is to make extracts from them and then simple use them in creams and other cosmetics. Herbal extracts are semi-finished products for cosmetics. By using them it is easy to make products you want.

Now it is time to talk about herbal oil extracts. I’ll teach you two different ways to make herbal infused oil from the plants you want. Follow the instructions to in order to get herbal oils, which are semi-finished products for home-made cosmetics. You will also learn to choose the right oils and suitable plants for extraction.

Herbal infused oil is the cornerstone of a good cosmetic product. That is why it is very important that you learn how to make a quality oil extraction right from the start. High quality herbal oil contains as much of the plant’s active ingredients as possible.

Read on to learn how to make herbal oil extracts from vegetable oils.

herbal-oil

There are several ways to make herbal oil extracts

Here are two different ways to make the oil extract. The way you choose depends on you, the way you want to do it, and few other factors

The choice of method of preparation depends on

  • Available time
  • What plants you want to extract
  • Whether you use fresh or dried plants
  • The oil you are using

What kitchenware is needed to make oil extract

You just need simple kitchenware you may already have.

  • Clean glass jar with lid, approx. 2-5 decilitres
  • Clean gauze cloth for straining

For the hot method you need also

  • pot for double boiler
  • Metal bowl to place on top of boiler (pot) for water bath

• Wooden chopsticks or clothes pegs between bowl and pot to keep the bowl above water level You do not need those if the bowl and pot fit together well.

All you need is a few very simple tools and some time. You can easily and affordably create a comprehensive and versatile set of herbal oils.

The herbal infused oil made by yourself is

  • at least 100 times better quality than industrial cosmetics oils
  • always effective enough, you have measured the ingredients yourself
  • Always fresh if you use only high-quality plants and oils. Oils should be usable at least 1,5 years (best before date)
  • an inexpensive cosmetic semi-product
  • Easy to use, you can add the infused oil of your choice to your products or use it as such for example in oil cleansing or massage

It is worth making plenty of infused oils, but not too much. You can use them for a half a year, and then make new ones. It would be best to choose a few favourite herbs and then make oil from each one of them. Also think about herbs suitable for your skin and what skin problems you want to solve.

What Plants Should I Choose for Herbal Infused Oil?

That is a really difficult question. There are so many options.

If you just want a sensual scent for your cosmetics, you can make oils from chamomile and rose. They are mild and gentle on the skin. Rose and chamomile are usually suitable for everyone’s skin.

Also, check out my post: The top 11 herbs for skin care. There are a few good alternatives that will give you a great result.

If you want to use a long formula of cold extraction to make an oil, always use dried herbs. I do not recommend fresh herbs for oil extraction due to health risks. Fresh herbs contain water and can spoil the oil.

You can then freely use either fresh or dried herbs for the hot oils. However, use only fresh or dried herbs, not both for the same extract.

Always choose organic herbs or wild herbs for your oil extract. Mass-produced herbs contain pesticide residues such as glyphosate (Roundup), which are passed on to the final product. Pesticides can cause cancer. They have also been found to destroy normal human bacterial systems, both on the skin and in the digestive system.

Pick your own wild herbs

Pick wild herbs from a clean environment. A clean environment means an area with no highways nearby and no farmed crops where pesticides can spread to the nature. I have also avoided dog walking trails. In southern Finland, finding such an area is becoming more demanding. So I suggest you to make a bicycle trip to some of the larger outdoor areas. Picking up herbs is actually real fun and relaxing. In my opinion, picking wild herbs even beats wild berry picking and mushroom picking.

If you find yourself an uncertain wild herb picker, do not hesitate to join a guided wild herb group. The guide will give you lots of tips on how to identify and use wild herbs, and you’ll get to know nice people as well.

You can dry the herbs you have picked up yourself or use them immediately. I am also thinking of making a new post about drying of wild herbs. I think summertime is good time for that.

Some wild herbs are perfect for cooking. If you were thinking of using wild herbs for nutrition, first make sure that the herbs you are picking are edible. There are restrictions and limits on using some herbs during pregnancy or when having certain diseases or eating certain medicines. These are the things you must check with your doctor.

Get herbs online

You can also buy herbs from a reliable supplier. I always try to find a domestic supplier myself, if possible.  There are many online shops selling herbs in many countries. It could be sometimes difficult to get to know the country of origin of herbs.

Herb trip abroad

herbal-oil
Kuva Felix Lichtenfeld Pixabaystä

In addition to domestic herb suppliers, there are numerous herb suppliers abroad. Looking at them from Finland, the nearest quality herbal suppliers are located in Estonia. If you’re heading to Estonia, don’t forget to take a look at their herbs. Estonian herbs are usually available in local pharmacies.

Selecting Oil for Herbal Oil Infusion

You have to choose the base oil, aka carrier oil. Carrier oils are neutral oils that are suitable as a base for cosmetics. I think the best carrier oils are sunflower oil, safflower oil or rice bran oil.

Do not choose expensive special oils for extraction. Their good properties are ruined during extraction. If you want to use them, use them only at the end of making process by adding few drops to the final product.

There is plenty of information available in my book Home Cosmetic Raw Materials and Making of Home-made Cosmetics about different oils. Unfortunately, this book is at the moment only available in Finnish language. There will be an English edition available later on.

There is plenty of talk about coconut oil and cosmetics but I really do not recommend using coconut oil as it is very unsuitable for extraction. For some reason, herbs do not just release their substances into coconut oil. The composition of coconut oil is quite different from other oils.

Another not so good oil for extraction is sesame oil. Sesame oil is very effective in removing active ingredients from plants. It is just not very good oil for skin care because it clogs the pores. It is thick and greasy and does not absorb well into the skin. In addition, it is a very warming oil. The skin may get unnecessary redness from sesame oil.

The third oil I do not recommend for cosmetic oil extracts is olive oil. Olive oil is a considered as superfood. However, in skin care, olive oil clogs the pores and even causes acne to some. At least cold pressed olive oil for baby products is not recommended at all because it is very allergenic.

The rule of thumb I have is that if some oil is a healthy nutrition, it is not suitable for the skin and vice versa.

Freshness of the oils

Always choose the freshest oil possible. Make sure the best before date is at least a year away.

How to make an herbal oil infusion slowly

The slow process for making oil is indeed very slow. You will need about 4 weeks to extract. However, some use the extract as early as after 2 weeks of extraction. Then it’s lot milder.

For good extraction you need the herbs you have picked and dried. In the slow process, only dried herbs can be used.

  • Put the herbs you cleaned and chopped into a glass jar. It depends on the number of herbs how strong the extract becomes. I recommend making strong extracts which can then be diluted if necessary. You will get a strong extract by filling the glass jar with dried herbs (not too full)
  • Pour the oil over so that the herbs are covered
  • Close the jar and label it with following information:
  • Used oil and oil best before date
  • Used herb
  • The date when extract was made

Place the jar at room temperature or in a slightly cooler place. However, do not put the jar in the refrigerator. Choose a place that is protected from light.

Let the herbs extract in the oil. You can turn the jar a little at times, but it’s not necessary.

After 4 weeks, you can separate herbs from the oil using a gauze cloth.

Now you have herbal infused oil you can use in cosmetics.

Herbal oil infusion by a quick method

herbal-oil

Herbal oil can also be produced quickly. This is done by heating the herbs and oil in a water bath for 1.5 hours.

  • Place the cleaned, fresh or dry herbs in a metal bowl
  • Pour good quality base oil such as sunflower oil enough to cover the herbs
  • Lift the bowl over the water boiler (pot)
  • There should be plenty of water in the pot but the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. The intention is that the extract in the bowl warms up only with water vapor. This prevents the oil and herbs from overheating and losing nutrients.
  • You can fit the bowl onto the pot by using wooden chopsticks. Another way is to use wooden clothes pegs on the sides of the pot to reduce the radius of the pot.
  • Allow the water to boil and then reduce the heat so that the water is just bubbling. The steam is hot enough to heat the mixture. If the water boils, the mixture may overheat.
  • Keep the mixture in a water bath for 1.5 hours
  • Press herbs into oil all the time and stir occasionally
  • After 1,5 hours you can lift the bowl off from the pot
  • Dry the bottom of the bowl to prevent any water getting into the oil. If there is even a little water in the oil, it will not be preserved.
  • Remove all herbs from the oil using a gauze cloth
  • Pour the oil into a glass jar
  • Close the jar and label it with following information:
  • Used oil and best before date (of used oil)
  • Used herb
  • Date of making the extract

Now you have herbal infused oil that you can use to make your own cosmetics!

Which method is preferable, slow cold infusion or quick hot one?

I myself prefer the quick method because first of all it is quicker and therefore ingredients will not get spoiled easily, comparing to slow method. Secondly, because of the reason no 1, the final product is safer to use.

I recommend to store final products in a fridge. If that is not possible please store protected from light and in a cool place.

Enjoy your personalized herbal infused oils!

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