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Infusing oil with your choice of herbs is a simple process that can be done using either a hot or cold method. In either method, I recommend using pressed oil of food grade quality. Olive and sesame seed oils are both made using this method, but check your labels. Many oils are made with chemical extraction and contain petroleum byproducts. When using topical applications, be mindful that human skin is permeable and some constituents and trace elements can penetrate.

HOT INFUSION – This can be used with either dried or fresh herbs.

Use a double boiler or a metal bowl resting over a pan of simmering water. Place a generous 1 ½ cup measurement of herbs crumbled, minced or chopped into the bowl. Add to this about 3 cups of oil. Generally, you will want to have twice the measure of oil as dried herb. Gently simmer the mixture for about three hours. Be sure that the oil doesn’t boil. You don’t want to burn or fry your herbs as this will cause them to lose their beneficial properties. Strain the herbs by pouring the oil through a clean cloth, reserving the oil in a clean glass jar with a lid.

COLD INFUSION – This is for use with dried herbs.

Place enough dried herbs into a jar to fill it within an inch of the jar’s rim. Be sure that your herbs have been completely dried or the water content will lead to rancidity. Add enough oil to cover the herbs. Cover with a clean lid and set into a sunny spot for 2 to 6 weeks time. I prefer 21 days in the summer sun. The heat from the sun will release the plant constituents into the oil. Once the oil has had a chance to infuse, filter the oil through a clean cloth. Store the infused oil in a clean glass bottle.

Infused oils are best used fresh, but will keep for about a year.


MEDICINALLY, infused oils are soothing carriers of the beneficial properties of herbs. A good selection of herbs for this purpose would be those with high tannin content which are soothing to the skin and/or muscles. Goldenrod is one herb which is used to benefit muscle aches and pains.

FOR CULINARY USE, olive oil is often infused with ingredients such as zested lemon peel, oregano, rosemary and peppercorns. The dried herbs should be bruised and/or crushed using a mortar and pestle. Fresh herbs should be finely chopped. For a decorative look, the oil can be placed in a decorative glass bottle with bits of the ingredients immersed in the oil and sealed with a cork. These oils can be used as salad dressing and for dipping breads.

IN SOAPMAKING AND TOILETRIES infused oils can offer the color, aromatic, and medicinal properties of the herbs to your favorite beauty recipe. Lavender, Rosemary, and Catnip are a good choice for mosquito repellant oil. Consider fragrant plants and herbs for your beauty lotions and creams made with infused oils.

In the book THE VISION by Debi Pearl, a local herbalist makes a gift of several herbs and booklets to a pregnant woman. This may seem an inappropriate gift to give a woman facing busy motherhood, but the gift of information is one which continues to grow. As with most things herbal, your creativity increases with the doing. Make a simple infused oil today, and you’ll likely find a dozen other ways to use it tomorrow. Order your copy of THE VISION to read about more examples of herbs used in daily living.


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