November 20, 2012

Infused oils ~ make your own!

I received some dried lavender flowers a few years ago and I was thinking...ah great but
what do I do with them??  Well now fast-forward a few years and I am so grateful for the lavender (now that I actually know what to do with them!)

I also have a whole bunch of dried chamomile flowers that I wanted to do something with.  So here I am contemplating making an oil infusion.  Ohh...sounds complicated and exotic, doesn't it?  Well, it's not really.  You just basically 'soak' some dried flowers, herbs, etc in oil for a few hours, letting the medicinal qualities come through.

I looked up about the infusions and here is what I've found

However you choose to infuse, there are a few very important steps you must take.
  • First and foremost: You must sterilize all jars and utensils used in the process.
  • Fresh herbs 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.
  • Dry herbs may be used as is in the oil.
  • Always check your herbs for any foreign substances before adding to the oil.
Chamomile, Common & Lavender - The flower heads are infused and the oil is used for it's antiseptic, calming, and soothing properties.

There are many ways to infuse the oils but I've found an interesting way of doing it in the slow-cooker...I think this is the way I will make mine. You put about 2 cups of oil and 1/2 cup dried herbs/flowers into the oil and set the slow-cooker to the warm feature (you must have that setting - if not the cooker will get too warm and burn the oil) and leave it in there for 4-6 hours (up to 8 hrs)
Here is the full recipe I will follow: 

Use 1/2 (dried) or 1 cup (fresh) herbs, in 2 cups of carrier oil. You can heat the mixture very gently (not more than 100 degrees F) for a few hours in a crock pot. Or, you can allow the infusion to take place over several days (allow up to a month) at room temperature. After the infusion is done, strain out the plant matter by pouring the mixture through a funnel with cheesecloth or a piece of muslin lining it. Collect the infused oil in a clean jar, and be sure to store it with the lid tight.
I will add a teaspoon of Vitamin E oil which will act as a preservative, ensuring it will last longer and not go rancid
You need to use a good quality oil such as: Olive
Coconut (use fractionated - this one stays liquid and does not solidify)
almond oil
jojoba oil

I like that you can make herbal/medicinal ones as well as ones for cooking.
I want to make a chamomile/lavender oil that I will use for baths (especially for the kids)

Some others I may try are:
Rosemary & Lavender
Lavender, Mint & Chamomile 

Lavender & Lemon (using essential oil of lemon)
A cooking one using Rosemary & Garlic (this one has to be used fairly quickly as the garlic will make the oil go rancid quickly)  

I like that you can use this as a moisturizing oil or for a bath (or foot bath

So go ahead and make some infused oils!


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