Herbal Oil - Hot Method
1/2 pint Olive Oil
2 - 3 oz dried Herb
Find a glass bowl which can
be placed comfortably in a saucepan without touching the base
of the pan. Pour enough water into the saucepan so that the water
touches the glass bowl, but does not come over the sides of the
bowl (you're creating a water-bath type of set up).
Place the olive oil and herbs into the glass bowl and place the
saucepan (with bowl and oil and herbs) over a medium heat. The
idea is to simmer the water in the saucepan so that this warms
the oil. Simmer for 2 to 3 hours, checking regularly to ensure
that the water level is ok. Never allow the saucepan to boil
dry! This may burn the oil and herb mixture (as well as ruin
your saucepan!) and a burnt oil mixture is useless.
The oil will take on the fragrance of the herbs as they infuse
and will change colour - if you do not find the resulting infusion
strong enough after the first 2 - 3 hours you may strain and
re-use the oil with a new batch of dried herbs, simmering for
a further 2 - 3 hours as desired. I generally find that one infusion
To strain the oil use a muslin cloth or suitable fine mesh strainer,
with a clean glass jug underneath to catch the strained oil.
Ensure that all the plant material is removed from the oil and
pour into a clean glass bottle.
If you use fresh herbs you may find that the resulting oil is
layered - with a watery (possibly greenish) layer of oil at the
bottom - this watery layer needs to be separated and discarded
otherwise your oil will spoil quickly. For this reason it is
more desirable to use dried herbs.
Olive Oil is my preferred choice for herbal infusions as it does
not detereorate from being heated, has a long shelf-life, and
is less likely to go rancid. Your infusions should last for about
a year - stored in a clean, dark glass bottle or jar (and out
of direct sunlight in a cool place).
Herb Choices : The Hot Herbal
Oil method is best suited to tough herbs, such as rosemary, and
roots, bark and seeds. That being said, more delicate materials,
such as rose petals, could be used but I would suggest keeping
the heat lower and checking the strength after an hour - it may
be wise to then strain and re-use the oil with a new batch of
dried petals. The condition of the petals after an hour will
tell you - if they are still fairly colourful keep going, but
if they are lacking colour then use a new batch. A few of my
favourite herbs for oil infusions :
Calendula (Marigold) - useful for a hair oil
for red hair, also makes a soothing oil for irritated skin -
ideal for a nipple ointment for breastfeeding mothers (wipe nipple
clean before breastfeeding though). Combines well with Chamomile
- another skin caring herb, also good as a hair oil for blonde
Comfrey - a soothing oil for stiff and aching
joints - particularly good for helping to heal small fractures,
damaged ligaments and tendons. Do not use on open wounds.
Lavender - the familiar, soothing fragrance of
Lavender is ideal for a relaxing, calming oil. Ideal for a bedtime
bath or massage oil.
Nettle - another herbal hair friend, good as a general
hair oil, also makes for a soothing oil for irritated skin.
Parsley - Ideal addition to a herbal hair oil for remedying
thin or falling hair.
Rose - a delicately fragranced oil, soothing for the
emotions and good for dry or mature skin.
Rosemary - excellent choice for a hair oil (for
dark hair) - will condition hair and nourish the scalp; Rosemary
also makes a wonderfully soothing massage oil for muscular aches
and pains and bruises. Also helps deter mosquitos.
Sage - another excellent choice for a hair oil - again
dark hair, especially grey. Also useful for remedying dandruff.
A resin, such as Frankincense
or Benzoin, or powdered Orris Root can be added with the herbs
and oil - these will of course impart their medicinal and aromatic
properties to the blend and will also act as a fixative for the
fragrance and work as a natural preservative.
Your infused oil can be blended
with other carrier oils once finished - you may find olive oil
too heavy an oil for general skin use, for a smoother massage
oil try half infused oil and half almond oil. For a hair oil
you may like to add jojoba to the infused oil - then warm the
oil (place the bottle in a cup containing boiled water and leave
for about 5 minutes - always test a little of the oil on your
hand before use to check the temperature!) and apply liberally
from roots to tip. Wrap a warm towel around your hair to keep
in the heat and relax for at least half an hour. Shampoo and
wash out - oil can be stubborn to shift, but fresh lemon juice
and water will shift it in no time, and will leave your hair
smelling fresh and looking great! (Lemon also adds a shine to
hair and enhances highlights).
Infused Oils can also be blended
with essential oils (you will need to use less drops of essential
oil in an infused oil than a plain carrier oil), or used as an
ingredient for other preparations - such as an ointment :
1/2 pint of Herbal Infused Oil
1oz Beeswax - grated*
Set up a water-bath with a glass
bowl suspended in a saucepan of water and add the infused oil
and beeswax to the glass bowl. Simmer until the wax is melted.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before pouring
into sterile clean glass jars, filling to within 1/2 inch of
the top. As the ointment sets it will leave a dip in the middle.
Reserve a little of the ointment to top up the jars - reheating
to a pourable consitency.
If you wish to include essential oils add them just before you
take the ointment off the heat and stir in well. You will only
need a few drops.
*(Solid) Cocoa Butter could
be used instead of the Beeswax. To produce different consistencies
alter the ratio of oil to beeswax/cocoa butter - more oil and
less beeswax/cocoa butter = a cream / moisturising lotion, and
more beeswax/cocoa butter with less oil = balm / more solid ointment.
For further herbal information,
herb related articles, or to purchase organic herbs, spices and
resins, quality oils, blended herbs and oils and much more, please
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