Make a Herb Infused Oil
There are two methods of infusing herbs into a fixed oil.
Hot oil infusion method is quick but can be damaging to very delicate herb properties potentially making them less medicinal. Another downside might be if you wished to use a cold pressed oil and maintain all of its qualities.
Cold infusion method which takes 6-8 weeks, very time consuming and not as exciting. It can preserve more of the herbal healing properties. No risk of overheating the oil.
Beware of very juicy herbs as the water content can cause the resulting oil to be more vulnerable to mold and going rancid. Pre-wilting these herbs is a good idea and using dried herbs avoids this problem but is impractical with the likes of chickweed.
Next Pick Your Carrier Oil
We stock so many options in carrier oils from value options to luxury, nourishing goodies like wheat germ oil. See below for an extensive overview of the benefits and downsides of each oil depending on what you are intending on adding.
Next Pick Your Herbs
The options are endless, some of my favorites are calendula (lovely colour and healing), thyme (antibacterial), rosemary (circulation stimulant, great for joints) , lavender (calming, antibacterial), chickweed (anti-itch and soothing), nettle (nourishing), borage (great fro eczema), and lemon verbena (smells amazing).
I prefer the heat method as I am a little impatient. The slow cooker is my favorite option as it can be left on overnight. Rember to leave the lid off though as otherwise, the condensation will ruin your oil. Put it on slow.
If you don't want to use a slow cooker then a double boiler or a heatproof bowl over a pan on the range will work fine. Avoid putting the oil directly into a pan of oil as it tends to overheat and damage the properties of the oil.
- Place the herbs in the sanitized jar, bowl, double boiler or slow cooker.
- Add your oil to just cover.
- Add water to your double boiler or old pot, about 1/3 up the pan. You want to be sure that when the jar is placed in the water, it has water up the sides, but you don’t want any water to come into contact with your oil.
- Place the double boiler or old pot on the stove and turn the stove on low. The water should be steaming but not simmering or boiling. Slow cooker should be on the absolute lowest setting.
- Allow the herbs to steep in the oil for 12-24 hours, being sure the water never runs low and burns your pot! Also watch it never gets too hot, again avoiding burning the herb.
- Ideally, you will strain off the herb material every 4 to 6 hours and replace it with a fresh batch, depending on how disciplined you are. This makes the infused oil stronger.
- After the time is up, allow the oil to cool to room temperature and strain well. Make sure no water is in your mix or you may need to let it settle and scoop it off.
- Depending on how well sanitised your equipment was and how minimal the water content is a good oil infusion can last months to years. Have a sniff of it fresh. It should smell herby and fresh. When you sniff it and it smells stale or rancid it is time to throw it out. You may also notice clumpy sediment which is a sign it has also passed its best.
Now you can enjoy using your oil as it is or to make other exciting concoctions such as balms/salves or even for cooking!
By far coconut oil is one of the most popular carrier oils used to dilute essential oils and for good reason. Coconut oil, derived from the fruit of the coconut tree, is a super-oil full of naturally present antioxidants and is an excellent antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. It is exceptional for nourishing the hair, nails and skin. Its almost 50% content of lauric acid means that coconut oil can retain a long shelf life and improve good cholesterol (HDL). It is also great for dry skin and treating skin conditions as it has natural deep moisturizing properties.
When buying coconut oil look for unrefined coconut oil as that does not go through the process of chemical extraction. Also you can buy coconut oil that is solid at room temperature and works well for making home-made balms and creams and smells great, or fractionated coconut oil which is liquid at room temperature and has almost no aroma.
2. Olive Oil
Extracted from the fruit of the olive tree, olive oil has an incredible number of health benefits and does a lot more than just cook and flavor food!
With 75% oleic acid, this popular cooking oil is excellent for your heart and cardiovascular system and can actually lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and increase good (HDL) cholesterol. It is also a potent anti-inflammatory and helps to reduce resistance to insulin.
Olive oil is a light oil with a fruity aroma that is not overpowering so it works well for blending most essential oils. Being non-greasy you can use it for almost any skin or hair type as it does not clog skin pores or leave hair locks looking greasy. It is excellent for dandruff, frizzy hair and dry skin.
When buying olive oil there are countless brands available - make sure not to buy the very cheap brands as these are more refined and may be mixed with other oils in the manufacturing process. Unrefined extra virgin olive oil is the best as no heat or chemicals are used in the extraction process and it contains the highest concentration of oleic acid.
3. Jojoba Oil
Comprised of over 75% eicosenoic acid, a long omega-9 fatty acid that cannot be digested by humans, but most closely resembles human sebum - jojoba oil is famous for being the carrier oil that is closest to mimicking the natural oil secretions of human skin! This makes it an excellent moisturizer for using on areas like the face and neck that may otherwise look oily with other carrier oils.
The oil is extracted from the seeds of the jojoba tree and has a light nutty aroma. Jojoba oil is a natural anti-fungal and works well when combined with essential oils that also have anti-fungal properties and are used for topical fungal infections.
With the longest chain of essential fatty acids than any other carrier oil and its ability to resist oxidation, jojoba oil holds a long shelf-life. Its high rate of absorption make it one of the top carrier oils on our list.
How to use jojoba oil:
1. Natural Make-up Remover:Stop using chemical-filled makeup removers! Jojoba oil removes makeup naturally from the face and eye area and actually nourishes the skin at the same time. Simply soak a cotton ball with the oil and use it to remove makeup, dirt and grime.
2. Cracked Feet and Hands: Soak hands and feet in warm water for 10 minutes to enhance relaxation or invigorate!), dry with a towel and massage in the oil.
3. Protect From Sunburn: Does your skin get red from exposure to the sun? This means your skin is getting damaged from UV ray exposure. Reduce inflammation by applying jojoba oil to affected areas.
4. Sweet Almond Oil
Highly rich in Vitamin E and an excellent natural antioxidant, sweet almond oil is extracted from the dried fruit of the almond tree. It's high vitamin E content makes it an optimal choice for nourishing the skin, regenerating new skin cells and keeping in moisture, making it a great choice for those who have dry skin.
It's natural antioxidant properties help protect from the damaging effects of the sun, and it's high concentrations of both oleic and linoleic acids help to relieve inflammation and soothe irritated skin.
Being non-greasy and hypoallergenic, it makes an excellent massage oil (especially for infants) and its rich Vitamin E content can actually help repair damage in the collagen layer of the skin, making facial skin smooth and supple and reducing wrinkles. Sweet almond oil makes our list for one of the top oils of choice for nourishing the skin, hair and nails.
5. Argan Oil
Best known for its anti-aging properties and promoting hair growth and repairing hair damage and split ends, if you haven't heard of or used argan oil, you're missing out on a carrier oil that is loaded with rich, nourishing properties and healing benefits! No wonder top-notch cosmetic companies are using it in their high-end formulations.
Argan oil is extracted from the fruit of the Moroccan argan tree (Argania spinosa). Rich in antioxidants, Vitamin A and E, and oleic and linoleic fatty acids, argan oil is especially beneficial for healing inflammation and damage caused by UV rays of the sun, reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars and promoting healthy cuticles and nails.
It is one of the best oils to use for regenerating skin cells, making it an excellent choice for anti-aging salves and lotions.
How to use argan oil:
1. Fight Acne: Tired of using acne products that dry out the skin? Combine 1-2 drops of argan oil (a little goes a long way) with a drop of tea tree essential oil and dab onto problem areas. Tea tree oil has proven, wonderful antibacterial and antifungal properties that compliments argan oil's anti-inflammatory properties beautifully, to get rid of acne and reduce scarring naturally.
2. Reduce Stretch Marks: Apply a couple of drops of warm argan oil and gently rub into the affected areas. Vitamin E and A in argan oil rejuvenate the problem areas and nourish the skin.
3. Anti-aging Moisturizer: Apply 1 drop of argan oil on your fingertips and tap into the wrinkle-prone areas of your face, such as around the nose and the temple area. Use the same gentle tapping motion and apply a drop under your eye area as well every night before you sleep. The rich Vitamin E and Vitamin A content in argan oil will help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and impede premature aging.
4. Natural Hair Conditioner: Argan oil makes an excellent natural leave-in conditioner to bring back glow and shine, reduce frizz and promote hair growth. Depending on the length of your hair use 1 to 3 drops and massage in the scalp while running your hands through your hair and finally rub it in well at the end tips of your hair.
6. Avocado Oil
The fruit of the avocado tree is almost one-third oil and is one of the thickest, most luxurious oils on our list! Avocado oil is also a good oil to use for anti-aging as it contains palmitoleic acid, a type of fatty acid that is found naturally in human fatty tissues just under the skin. Since avocado oil mimics this fat, the skin absorbs it in, especially providing excellent nourishment for older, mature skin that has thinned with age.
Avocado oil contains high concentrations of oleic and linoleic fatty acids making it a potent anti-inflammatory and along with other naturally present nutrients and antioxidants as well at vitamins A, D & E, this carrier oil is ideal for irritable skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Due to its high viscosity, avocado oil dries slowly making it a good carrier oil for massage. To make it more free flowing it can be blended with another carrier oil such as olive oil or sweet almond oil.
7. Grapeseed Oil
Just like the name suggests, grapeseed oil is extracted from the seeds of grapes. Grape seeds are loaded with antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients, making grapeseed oil high in proteins, minerals, vitamin E and linoleic acid (a natural anti-inflammatory). Grapeseed oil is used for both cooking and cosmetics, but only grapeseed oil labeled as food-grade should be used in culinary applications.
Grapeseed oil does not make skin greasy so it is widely used in many manufactured cosmetics and you can find it in sunscreens, creams, lotions and other cosmetic products. It also has antiseptic properties and is a mild astringent, making it a good carrier oil for acne-prone skin or oily skin. Being lighter than coconut oil for example, grapeseed oil moisturizes and nourishes hair without making it greasy and works well to combat dandruff.