Once the heat of summer arrives here
in Michigan, my deck is filled with potted flowers, plants,
and oh yes, a bunch of canning jars filled with herbs infusing
themselves (with the help of the sun!) in oil. There's
something magical in the process. You start with a jar of
plain oil, and by the end of the season, some of the jars have
become as colorful as the flowers themselves- emerald, jade,
orange, gold, while others really haven't changed their appearance
at all. Yet they all have one common denominator: they have
become liquid gold. Ready to be used to heal, to scent, or
Of course, summer is short and sweet here in Michigan.
It seems like the plants just get to the harvest stage, and it's
fall already. With that in mind, I'd like to go over two
different ways I go about infusing herbs into oil, why I do it,
and what I (and you too!) can do with the finished product.
My main purpose for infusing oils is for use in balms
and salves. They can be used for healing dry and damaged skin,
protect babies bottoms, heal poison ivy and oak, relieve burns and
bug bites, and provide soothing after-shower and body massage
Each herb has it's own purpose and benefit. The
following is a list of herbs commonly infused, and what the
beneficial property is.
The flowers are infused and the oil is used externally to relieve
pain from bruises and sprains, but not on broken skin.
Chamomile, Common &
Lavender - The flower heads are infused and the
oil is used for it's antiseptic, calming, and soothing properties.
Coltsfoot & Horsetail
- The leaves contain silica, which is also known as a
vegetable collagen, are infused and the oil is used in skin and
hair products. It is believed to have regenerative
High in allantoin, nature's tissue and bone healer, the leaves and
root are infused and used for wounds, and for tissue regeneration.
St John's Wort
- Fresh flowers are infused and the oil is used to soothe
skin. Good for sun burns and cuts/scrapes.
Flowers are infused and the oil is used for cuts, scrapes, insect
bites, and inflammation.
The whole plant is infused fresh, and the oil is used to treat
poison ivy, oak, and stinging nettles.
Rose Petals -
Petals are infused and the oil is used for it's skin soothing and
However you choose to infuse, there are a few very
important steps you must take.
foremost: You must sterilize all jars and utensils used in the
must be slightly wilted before infusing. Any moisture in the
oil will cause mold. I harvest my herbs at high noon if
using above ground parts, and early morning if using the roots.
My belief is that the oil content is highest at the top of the
plant at midday, and highest in the root early morning.
Roots need to be thoroughly washed and chopped. Once
harvested, I place on clean paper towels to absorb any moisture
from the plant. I also place one on top and gently press.
I let it sit for a couple of hours and then place in my oil.
may be used as is in the oil.
check your herbs for any foreign substances before adding to the
For solar infusing, use 1 cup of fresh herbs or ?cup of dried in
1 quart of virgin olive or coconut oil. Stir to make sure
the herbs are fully immersed in the oil. Leave ?inch head
space and cap tightly. Place in an area where the jar receives at
least six to eight hours of sunlight a day. Each day, I
remove the cap carefully and wipe the top of the jar with a paper
towel to remove any moisture that may have accumulated. I also
shake the jar once daily. Allow to set for at least 1-2
weeks, or until you notice the plant material is “used up?
From there you take the jar and pour into another sterilized jar
through a sieve and cheesecloth. I always squeeze the herbs
to get “the good stuff? Look carefully at the jar for any
bits of herbs remaining. You may have to strain again.
Add 1 teaspoon of Vitamin E mixed Tocopherols, an ?teaspoon
Rosemary Oil Extract to each quart jar of finished oils to prevent
oxidation/rancidity. From there you can use as is, or repeat
the infusing process to obtain a stronger infusion. I like
to infuse my oils at least 4 times.
Optional Method: Prepare herbs and jars/utensils as above.
With this method, I use a crock pot, and usually use pint jars,
and infuse 5 different herbs at a time. I set the crock pot
to low, and place the jars inside with caps on, and set the timer
for 8 hours. When cool, I check for moisture, strain and add
my Vitamin E and Rosemary Oil Extract (half the amount for pint
Store in a cool, dark place.
That's pretty much it. The one thing I have found
is it can get very addicting. I now infuse different herbs
and flowers for scent. Mint and Thyme with all their
varieties have become my new favorites. They are wonderful
in massage oils. Sweet Grass is very nice and Vanilla Grass
is sweet and spicy. I add these to body butters along with
essential oils. Vanilla beans infused in virgin coconut oil
is yummy, and I'm going on my second year of infusing the same
fractionated oil with a Bourbon Rose I'm growing. It's
getting pretty strong! This year I purchased a Damascena
Rose that I hope to do the same thing with.
There is so much to experiment with. Sure, there
will be failures (like when I tried to infuse Tuberose flowers in
jojoba, or scented Geraniums...yuck!), but there will be great
Not only will your body be grateful, but you'll get
caught up in something magical, naturally!
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