The Art of Herbal Infusions

Photo Dec 30, 10 24 26 AM Lisa Sciscoe-Hobbs

I HAD to write this one up. I recently saw a post by someone explaining to others how to make an oil infusion…the wrong freaking way. And yes, there is a wrong way and a right way. I imagine she saw it on Pinterest. A post someone made who had dabbled, but that had not actually studied herbalism. And therein lies the danger.

I am not saying you have to go to school for herbalism like I have done/am doing-there are many amazing self-taught herbalist, my friend Valerie being one of them. I can’t pretend to know as much as she does. But the difference is they spend years learning the craft and honing their skills and aren’t dabblers. If you want to dabble just don’t spread misinformation, PUH-LEEZE.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a great dabbler. I dabble with the best of them. However, herbs are very powerful and shouldn’t be dabbled with. While they are natural they still pose a danger to some and can cause more harm if not handled correctly, WHICH brings me to this post.

The post I read that caused all this uproar? It said to take fresh flowers and herbs, cover with oil and leave it sitting in a sunny spot for 2-4 weeks (the timing may be off as I am doing this from memory).

While some expert herbalist can use fresh herbs and get away with it, it is STRONGLY suggested to ALWAYS used thoroughly dried herbs (herbs include flowers in this pretense). The reason being because of their water content. It can cause the oil to turn rancid and promote spoilage and molding of the herbs.

You also want to turn the herbs regularly. I do this every day. I just pick up the bottle and turn it upside down once or twice and then set it down and let it go about its business again. This action allows the oil to move through all of the herbs to better mix and pull out the constituents (the healing properties of the herbs-including essential oils) but also to move the herbs stuck at the top to the bottom so that they aren’t constantly just out of the oil which again promotes spoilage and molding. You can’t just let it sit and call it good.

You can infuse your oils in a sunny window (not in direct sunlight), but there are other quick fix ways to do it as well.

  • I start with 2 oz of herbs to 1 cup of oil (or simple way of 1/3 jar of herbs and fill the remainder with oil)-olive, apricot, almond, sesame, etc
  • Add a square of wax paper to the jar before closing (this keeps the lid from rusting and contaminating your oil)
  • From here you can choose to do the sitting method, oven or crockpot.

SITTING

Set your jar of oils in a window that gets sun, but not direct sunlight. Turn daily while it sits 4-6 weeks. Finish as explained in the final description.

OVEN

  • Place jar into a ceramic dish, add a small amount of water to cover the bottom and place into oven
  • Set oven temp between 110-140 degrees and leave door open
  • Heat 3-5 hours
  • Finish as you would in the final description

 

CROCKPOT

  • Place jar into crockpot
  • Add about 1 inch of water
  • Set temperature to lowest setting
  • Crack lid to allow moisture to escape
  • Heat 3-5 hours

 

TO FINISH

  • Line a large mesh strainer with cheesecloth. I do 3 layers. Place strainer over large, clean bowl.
  • Pour warm herb/oil mixture into strainer and allow to sit and drain. (I cover VERY loosely with a paper towel to keep any dust particles out)
  • After sitting for a while, take a large, clean spoon or spatula and press any remaining oil out of the mixture and finish by twisting the oil out of the cheesecloth and into the bowl.
  • If it is your way, thank the herbs for their blessings and add the remains to the compost bin.

Now you have a properly infused oil.

You can use oils for different things. Some examples of oils I’ve made and use are: oils for salves, ear oil, oil for face wash, to mix with witch hazel for facial toner and bath oil. Most of my oils are made for salves, as that is what I sell in my store and use in my home first aid kit. I am sure there are other oils to be made, I know simple cooking oils would be, but I try to avoid cooking at all costs, lol.

 

So, infuse away. I’ll post about making a simple salve coming up, but maybe get started with Calendula. Always buy organic, food grade herbs. You want the purest, most natural herbs you can get, the closest to what Mother Nature intended-not a hot mess of pesticides and GMO shit. Herbal rant over.

 

Photo by Lisa Sciscoe-Hobbs

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