In this post we will be looking at how you can make herb infused olive oil for health and healing. Often herbal infused oil is seen as a tasty ingredient for cooking and to keep in the stock cupboard. But were you aware that infusing olive oil (or any other carrier oil) with herbs will not only add flavor and spice to your cooking also transforms them into healing, soothing and relaxing aromatherapy oils and alternative medicinal preparations.
In this post we look at a simple, and very natural and effective, method for infusing oils utilizing the sun. I will also offer some suggestions for herbs that you can utilize and the healing benefits for each infusion. In future editions to this section of healthynatured.com we will look specifically at the individual oils and their health and healing properties.
How to Make Herb Infused Olive Oil for Health and Healing
This method for infusing oil is known commonly as the Folk or Simplers method. It is extremely easy to do and relies on the natural energy of the sun to infuse your carrier oil with the goodness and healing properties of your chosen herbs. Following the step by step guide to preparation will ensure you get a quality product with all the essences for health. There are countless herbs that you can use to prepare infused oils and I will list some of my favorite herbs at the end of this post.
You will note that I suggest Olive Oil to be used as a carrier. In reality you can use any carrier oil but olive Oil has one of the longest shelf lives of all oils and is suitable for the full range of applications. Once prepared you are able to use your herb infused olive oil in a similar ways as you would essential oils for healing and also to create other healing creams and salves such as lip balm, massage oil, hair and body treatments, soaps, anti-inflammatories and a whole lot more.
In future editions I will be adding the preparation and recipes for all the above mentioned products so please do bookmark us or sign up for our natural remedy newsletter updates.
Folk And Simpler’s Method To Make Herb Infused Olive Oil For Health And Healing
- Select the herbs that you wish to use. You can use fresh or dried herbs.
- If you are using fresh herbs, which I recommended, you should hang them in a dry warm spot out of the light for 12-24 hours. This will allow your herbs to wilt and lose excessive moisture. Too much moisture can cause the carrier oil to go rancid. After 12 hours the excess moisture will be gone and the hers ready to use. Tip: I hang my herbs inside an old pillow case in a closet. This ensures a warm, dry, dark environment and also adds fantastic fragrance to the room!
- Once wilted cut up your herbs into small (1/2 inch) pieces and bruise the herbs in a pestle and mortar. Remember you are just lightly bruising the herbs (not mincing them to paste). A few bruises just to help release the oils is all your looking for.
- Place the bruised herbs into a clean, dry glass jar. You are looking for a jar with an airtight lid! Tip: If using dried herbs you don’t need to hang or bruise.
- Choose a light colored olive oil (don’t go for extra virgin or anything expensive – the olive oil on sale at the grocery store is fine!).
- Pour the oil into the jar on top of the herbs and allow it to soak in. You want to cover the herbs by 1″ of oil and leave at least 1/2″ of space at the top of the jar. The herbs will expand in the oil and this gives them room. Tip: Check regularly on your oil level. The herbs (especially dry) will absorb the olive oil and you may need to keep topping up the oil in the jar to ensure the herbs remain totally immersed and covered.
- Screw the cap onto your jar and give a good shake to ensure all the herbs and oils are mixed well.
- Place your jar in a sunny, warm area. (If you are doing this in winter and you don’t get hot sunny locations you can cover your jar in a brown paper bag (which will act as a heating insulator) or you can sit the jar in a very hot bath of water for a couple of hours per day.
- Shake the oil daily and check the oil level.
- Once the oil has infused (see timings below) strain the oil using cheesecloth. Make sure you wring the herbs tightly in the cloth to get every last drop of your fabulous oil.
- Pour your now ready oil into clean, dry and preferably dark glass jars (brown or blue are best) and store in a cool dark place. If you only have clear glass jars that will be fine just ensure you keep them stored away from light sources.
Timings For Infusion – Make Herb Infused Olive Oil For Health And Healing
- Time to wait? – The best infusion comes if you allow the initial jar to sit for 4 weeks undisturbed (apart from its daily shake and occasional oil top up).
- No time to wait – If you want the oil as soon as possible you can do the following. Let the initial preparation sit for 48 hours. Then repeat the process above by straining the oil, adding new new herbs but using the same strained oil. You’ll want to do this a minimum of 2-3 times. This is a fast way to get maximum infused oil in minimum time.
Need It Even Quicker? – Make Herb Infused Olive Oil For Health And Healing
There is another way to quickly infuse oils, however I do recommend the gentle sun infused method, but this definitely works as long as you are careful and don’t end up deep frying your chosen herbal goodies!
Place your herbs into a large thick bottomed saucepan (or double boiler/crock-pot…even an electric rice cooker) and cover with olive oil.
You will want to add enough oil to completely cover your chosen herbs by at least 1 inch of oil.
Then very gently heat the oil to no hotter than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This needs to then stay on the heat, dependent on the herb, for anything from 1- 8 hours. The easiest way to check if it is ready is when the oil has taken on the color and the scent of the herb. If you still smell olive above the scent of the herb it needs more time and possibly more herbs.
If you have a safe way to keep on the heat for longer periods then 80 degrees Fahrenheit for 48 hours will give a deeper and more full bodied infusion.
Alternatively placing you herbal oil (as prepared above) into a very hot bath of water, and replacing the hot water regularly, will be a safer method and give you an equally good result.
Tip: Adding a few drops of Vitamin E Oil to each preparation when bottling for storage, regardless of the method used, will prolong the shelf life.
Herbs Which Can Be Used To Make Herb Infused Olive Oil For Health And Healing:
Arnica flowers – Amazing for any external healing use. Excellent for bumps, bruises and tired aching muscles. A brilliant oil for anyone with muscle fatigue and used in aromatherapy or healing hands massage.
Calendula flowers – This gives an extremely potent fragrance which is an excellent insect repellent, while being a lovely fragrance for humans! It is an excellent oil for anyone with sensitive skin and can be used safely for baby nappy rash.
Cayenne peppers – Amazing oil to massage into arthritic joints or any aches and pains.
Chickweed – This is an excellent oil to soothe irritated or dry skin, it also alleviates the itch and sting of insect bites.
Lemon Balm – Soothes sensitive or irritated skin and is an excellent anti-bacterial for minor scrapes, cuts and abrasions.
Mullein flowers – One of the most widely known and used infusion oils for soothing inflammation or irritation.
Myrrh gum – Antiseptic, antibacterial and extremely effective for helping to heal cuts and scrapes.
Peppermint – Apart form it’s gorgeous fragrance peppermint infused olive oil cools and soothes aching joints and tired muscles.
Plantain Leaves – A great healer for any form of damaged skin plus alleviates the pain from blisters and insect bites.
Rosemary – Known for its uses in the kitchen Rosemary infused olive oil is incredible as a soother for aching muscles and joint pain and is a brilliant tonic for keeping your hair healthy and full bodied.
St. John’s Wort – St John’s Wort is probably better known for its properties as a mood stabilizer. However infused in oil will give you a glorious red colored oil which is amazing for healing nearly all skin conditions such as minor cuts, bruises, insect stings, insect bites, skin abrasions, nappy rash, skin pain, and burns.
Thyme – Used for external treatments. It is an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory so perfect for cuts, scrapes, inflammation and tired muscles.
These are only a few suggestions to make herb infused olive oil. In following posts we will look at some specific herbal remedies and also how to infuse oil with combinations of herbs for specific natural body care, relaxing or medicinal purposes.
I hope you enjoyed the post. If you do try to make your own infused oils, or have additional suggestions or questions I would love to hear from you. Please do leave a comment below or contact me directly by clicking here.