How To Make an Infused Oil

Posted by Sara Carlson on

Infused oils are a pivotal part of any home apothecary. They can be used on their own or turned into salves, balms, creams, butters and more.

There are a few different ways to make an infused oil but the method I prefer I call the #slowherbalism method. I learned this method from April Graham of @she_is_of_the_woods on Instagram and I honestly can tell a major difference in the quality of the end product. Since this is what is use 99% of the time, this is the method I teach.  
The most important thing I need you to remember when infusing an oil is that your jars and utensils need to be super clean (sterilized) and BONE dry. The tiniest amount of water can lead to a quick spoiling oil. Rancid oil isn't the end of the world, but if you are making remedies for others, the smell of rancid oil is not pleasant. Also, if you notice any mold growing in you need to compost it. As sad as it is to see hard work dumped on the heap, it is even sadder to see someone get an infection because they put your moldy oil on their wound.
Sounds scary right, it can be if you are careless, but if you take the proper measures to ensure safety, like cleaning your jars properly, and only using dried or deeply wilted plant material, it will become second nature and you won't have to worry, and with time you will know what to look for. 
Another thing to remember is that fresh plants are wet. The best oil infusions come from cured or dried plant matter. Really the only time we use fresh plants is when the healing properties are severely damaged or eliminated by drying, which is the case for plants like St. John's Wort, Lady's Thumb, Jewelweed, etc.
 
The shelf life of an infused oil and the products they are made with is usually around a year or two. Really it depends on the oil you use and when that oil goes rancid. The medicinal value will still be there but you will smell like rancid oil. Blech. 
 
Swollen Poplar Buds in Avocado Oil Awaiting more oil.
When we place cured, dried plant matter or even the resinous buds of the Balsam Poplar (Cottonwood) and then add oil the plant material is naturally going to swell and soak in that oil. This is great because that is just what needs to be done so the medicinal properties are extracted. Fill the jar 1/2 to 2/3 of the way depending on how the plant will swell. Here is an example of how even fresh buds can swell. for demonstration purposes, poured the oil into the jar with the buds, the oil was just covering the buds. Now as you can see the buds have swollen and I will need to add more oil. Any plant matter not covered in the oil may mold. The buds lifted out of the oil with in an hour. I like to have the proper size jar so I can fill it with plant matter then top it off with oil with as little air space as possible. This reduces the risk of oxidation and rancidity. I like to place the jar on a plate or in a pan of some sort because oil likes to travel with the heat up the sides of the jar, and since you don't want a mess this is a simple solution.

To Make A #slowherbalism Infused Oil

You will need:

  • A big enough extremely dry jar for your plant matter.
  • Dried, cured plant matter or fresh plants like St. John's Wort, Jewelweed, Poplar Buds, Prickly Ash berries, etc.
  • Oil of choice. (I prefer avocado oil over olive oil. Just note each oil type has a different shelf life. I have found avocado to work great. 
  • A heat source that doesn't go over 90º F.  A seed heating mat is perfect.
  • A months time.

Step 1: Place plant matter in jar. Only fill jar 1/2 -2/3 full.

Step 2: Fill jar to the top with oil of choice. (Avocado is great because it doesn't go rancid as fast as olive oil.)

Step 3: Let sit on heat source for 1 month in a dark place.

Step 4: Strain & press oil/plant mixture.

Step 5: Bottle & label for later use or make into a salve, butter, or cream.


Pretty simple huh? See you can do this! It is super easy to create potent healing medicines from the land. It is also important to learn these things in case something ever does happen or the SHTF.

Comment below if you have ever made an infused oil. What methods have you tried? Have you ever had any trouble? Are you new to making your own medicines at home?

I want to hear from you!

Green Blessings,
Sara

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2 comments

  • Hi Averill, I do use beeswax in most of my salves, balms, and ointments. It is a great solidifier and has many anti-microbial properties. I think it is so wonderful that your husband is starting an apiary! So fun! I will work on getting a couple recipes together to share.

    Sara --Northwoods Wild on
  • Hey Sara, I was wondering if you ever use beeswax in your herbal medicine. I would love to make a few things and wondered if you had any special recipes? My husband is starting an Apiary and thought it would be a cool idea to get some recipes under my belt. 🤗❤

    Averill on

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