These are oils in which herbs have been steeped so as to extract the healing properties of the herbs, along with their subtle color and scent. They are used topically in massage oils, salves, lip balms and creams. Please note that herbal-infused oils are not the same as essential oils and cannot be used interchangeably. Please see the Essential Oils section in the Ingredients chapter for further explanation. Herbal-infused oils can be made with dry or fresh herbs, with or without the use of heat. The different techniques and methods are described below. When infusing herbs in oil it is best to use a stable oil that will not go rancid quickly, such as cold pressed olive or sesame oil. When infusing with a less stable oil, such as canola or almond, you will need to use it up more quickly.
Directions for Herbal-infused Oils with Dried Herbs
Making an herbal-infused oil with dried herbs is similar to making an alcohol tincture with dried herbs, except that oil is used as the menstrum. Use 1 oz. of herb by weight to 4 oz. of oil by liquid measure. Place 1 oz. of freshly crushed or powdered herb by weight into a 6-oz. glass jar with a tightly fitting lid. Pour 4 oz. of cold pressed olive oil or other carrier oil of choice over the herbs in the jar. Stir the oil into them until they are thoroughly saturated, then cap tightly. Bear in mind that if the herbs being infused are particularly fluffy and voluminous, such as flowers like chamomile, calendula or yarrow, you may need to use 1 part herb to 5 or 6 parts menstrum. So for every ounce of chamomile flower by weight you will use 5 or 6 oz. of oil by liquid measure. Label the jar with the date and contents. Place it on a wooden cutting board or in a shallow bowl to prevent the oil from dripping onto unwanted places. Try to shake the jar daily the agitation maximizes the release of the herbal properties into the liquid but even if you don’t shake the jar you will have a potent oil. Let the herbs steep in the oil for a minimum of 3 weeks. I like to let my oils steep for 6 weeks or longer. I often place herb-and-oil-filled jars on a jelly roll pan in the oven with the pilot light on, as the warmth helps to encourage the extraction process. After steeping, strain oil by placing a strainer lined with a thin cloth over a bowl, and pour the entire contents of the jar into the cloth-lined strainer. ow the oil to seep into the bowl, then gather the ends 6f the cloth together and squeeze out any remaining oil. The more you squeeze or press, the more oil you will end up with. However, you can expect a loss of about 20-30 percent even after thoroughly squeezing and pressing, since the dried herbs absorb a portion of the oil.