You may be familiar with infused oils that you can find in grocery stores. Olive oil infused with herbs like dill, cumin, cinnamon, and rosemary are meant to give the olive oil flavors for cooking. In herbal medicine, infused oils are used for different reasons.
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Infused Oils in Herbal Medicine
Infused oils are used in making salves, lip balms, and massage oils.
Herbs are placed in the oil and the properties from the plants are extracted. The infused oil then contains the plant’s properties. Infused oils are convenient since it contains the plant’s properties without the need to have the plant itself. However, this does not necessarily mean that you should always use infused oils in place of using dried or fresh herbs.
How it Works
When the plant’s properties have been infused into the oil, the oil can then be used in the salve making process.
Let’s break it down.
The Common Plantain is known for its ability to soothe itchiness caused by things like bug bites and poison ivy. If you take fresh plantains and make a poultice and apply it to the itchy area, it will help soothe the itchiness. However, I won’t always have access to fresh plantains so I want to make something that I will have all year and is easily portable.
- Plantains are harvested and then infused in olive oil.
- After the oil has been infused the plant are then filtered out.
- The olive oil now has the soothing properties of the plantain.
- The infused oil is then used in making a plantain salve.
- Voila! The salve can then be applied to bug bites and poison ivy without having to collect fresh plantains.
Fresh plantains are not available all year and storing dried plantains can take up a lot of space. Making infused oils will help save space and making it into a salve will be easier to apply and more convenient.
Can you buy these oils?
I was only able to find infused oils at Mountain Rose Herbs but making infused oils is also pretty easy.
Making Infused Oils
First things first. Making infused oils is pretty easy but you should understand what carrier oils are.
Carrier oils are used to carry or dilute plant properties that are too harsh to be applied directly. These oils are used for infusing oils as well as diluting essential oils.
Common Carrier Oils:
- Olive Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Almond Oil
- Argan Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Hazelnut Oil
- Hemp Seed Oil
- Sunflower Oil
Olive oil and jojoba are best used in infusing oils since they have the longest shelf lives. Just know that jojoba oil is more expensive. When looking at olive oils make sure you are getting cold pressed and quality olive oil.
Long Infusion Method
What you’ll need:
- Olive or jojoba oil
- Mason jar
- Put herbs in a mason jar
- Fill the jar up with enough oil to cover the herbs, more if you wish. Too much and the oil won’t have as great of a concentration of the herbal properties.
- Put the lid on the jar and either stir or shake it up
- Leave in the sun for 4-6 weeks, agitate every once in a while
What do you do after the 4-6 weeks?
You’ll need to filter out the herbs.
What you’ll need:
- Cheese Cloth
After the infusion is done the herbs should be strained out. You can filter it with just a strainer but using a cheesecloth will help finely filter the oil and get most of the little bits out.
Once it is filtered make sure to store it in an amber or blue glass bottle. If you don’t have these, make sure to keep it in a glass jar in a dark cabinet.
4-6 weeks can be a long time but fear not, there is a faster way.
You can infuse the oil faster by heating them up. There are different ways of doing this but here’s a pretty easy method and one I use often.
Short Infusion Method
What you’ll need:
- Mason jar with the herbs and oil already prepared
- A pot
- Place the jar of oil and herbs in the pot
- Fill up the pot with enough water that reaches about ½ way. More is fine, just don’t have so much water that it overflows the pot or into the jar with the oil.
- Keep on low heat for 3-6 hours
- Let cool and strain
Once you have your own infused oil you can make salves, lip balms, and massage oils.
Have you ever made infused oils? What did you use? Share below!