I know so much better now about the safe use of essential oils (a topic I will write more about in the future), but at the time I thought it was "natural" so I didn't have to worry about anything, and proceeded to dump a few dozen drops into my bathwater. The oil, as I now know, began to evenly disperse on the water's surface (because oil and water don't mix), which directly hit my ass and the back of my genitals as I entered the tub.
As I rested in the bath in the height of my achy, icky sickness, within minutes, the relaxing, warmth I felt on my behind quickly turned into a burning panic. I leaped out of the tub as the fear of not knowing what to do set in when I suddenly remembered the herbal infused oils gathering dust on my back stairs that I had so lovingly and patiently created just a few months before.
Without sparing a moment, I began to slather the unstrained oil all over myself, bits of lavender and all, and the relief I felt was tremendous and almost instant. Lesson learned. I have had herbal infused oils at my disposal ever since. And it's in part why I use them as the base of most of my products today. Their magic is potent, soothing, and easily accessible.
All about Herbal Infused Oils
An herbal infused oil is a method used to extract the fat-soluble constituents of a plant, as well as it's volatile oils (the scented part). They can be used on their own or used as a base in a healing salve or balm.
Commonly used herbal oils for skin:
*Calendula (Calendula officinalis) - Soothing, moisturizing, and cooling.
*Plantain (Plantago major) - Mainly used for skin irritations, as well as bug bites and stings.
*Comfrey (Symphytum x uplandicum) - Often used to help the healing of tissues, bones, and ligaments. Caution: While many use it for wounds and other skin ailments, it should never be used on deep wounds, as it could potentially heal the top layer of skin before the bottom, resulting in an abscess or infection.
*Rose (Rosa spp.) - Hydrating, and cooling. Superb for mature or dry skin.
*Coffee (Coffea spp.) - Stimulating and tonifying. Great for dull skin.
*Cayenne (Capsicum annuum) - Warming and improves circulation. Often used on achy joints and sore muscles.
*Lavender (Lavandula spp.) - Ultra soothing and on the mind and body.
*Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) - an invigorating herb for the senses, often used for the hair and scalp.
*Olive Oil - Deeply nourishing with a long shelf life and a staple oil for body use.
*Avocado - High heat tolerance, suitable for higher temperatures, or for heated methods. On the heavy side, so it is excellent for body use.
*Sunflower - I like to use sunflower oil to cut the denseness of olive or avocado oil, which helps to lighten it's feel a bit.
*Jojoba Oil - Easily absorbed by the skin and on the lighter side, a fantastic choice for face.
*Fractionated Coconut Oil - My go-to for face oils. It's light in color and feel and lends itself well to herbal extraction.
Personally, I love using fractionated coconut or jojoba oil for face, and a blend of olive, sunflower, and avocado for the body. There are no solid rules! Choose an oil which you already have, or speaks to you the most.
What you'll need:
- Carrier Oil
- Dried Herb
- A Clean, Completely Dry Jar with Lid
- Cheesecloth or Sieve
- Bottle for Storage
Instructions for Cold Infusion:
Fill a clean, dry mason jar 1/2 - 3/4 full of your chosen plant material, and cover with oil. Since the plant material is dry, it will swell and expand in size once it has fully absorbed the oil. This is called the folk, or traditional method, in which you measure your plant material by sight. Alternatively, you can measure your herb by weight so you know exactly how to recreate the mixture in the future. The standard ratio is 1 ounce dried herb to 10 ounces of oil.
Lid tightly and shake well to ensure all plant material is covered, and there are no trapped air pockets. Label with the herb and oil used, as well as the date. Shake daily for a week, then store in a warm location out of direct sunlight for 4 - 6 weeks. If you leave it longer, there is no need to worry! It just won't get any stronger after this time, but it will still be suitable for use.
When you are ready to use your oil, strain through a sieve or cheesecloth into a clean bottle or jar and discard the spent plant material. If properly processed and stored, your herbal infused oil should last about a year (depending on the type of oil used). Store in a cool, dark location in an airtight container and check for signs of spoilage every few months.
Notes:Be sure to cover entirely with oil as exposed plant material can cause mold to grow in your mixture. Exposure to heat, oxygen, and moisture can cause your herbal oil to go rancid or mold. For this reason, I like to infuse my oils using the slow, or cold method of infusion, and only use dried herbs.
While applying heat via a double boiler, crockpot, or even the sun, will speed up the infusion process, I find these methods too finicky, and very hard to control, increasing the chance of burning your oil. Burned oil does not smell pleasant and will become rancid far more quickly.
As always, be sure to follow general safety guidelines when using a new herb for the first time, and check with a healthcare provider. This article is for the external use of oils only. Discontinue use if any adverse reactions arise.
If you are just starting to work with an herb, I always recommend you use it alone, so you get to see what it does for you and get to know it a bit more intimately. But feel free to add a few plants to your oil!
Also, if you are interested in trying and developing an at-home facial care routine, or simply want some extra tips for your existing regime, download my free Step by Step Natural Facial Guide! In this guide, you will learn each step and the full process of giving yourself an at-home facial, the Fecund Herbals way, with any natural facial products you may have on hand!
Have you ever tried you make your own herbal infused oil or remember the first time you experienced an herbal oil? What is your go-to plant to infuse? I'd love to hear! Let me know in the comments below.
Author Bio: My name is Katya Herb, owner of Fecund Herbals. I am an herbalist from Chicago with a passion for skincare, radical self-care, and all things plant-related. I first came to herbalism to address some unresolved pelvic issues but grew to love the vast healing, and nourishing potential plants have on our bodies and minds.
My goal with Fecund Herbals is to promote radical healing and self-care through my herbal product offerings, as well as through education. Sign up for my newsletter and be the first to know about new posts, promotions, and more!
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