I've shown you a lot of balm recipes that I use infused oils for, the quickest way to make a herb infused oil is heating it bain-marie style but a really easy way to make them is by leaving them on the windowsill and let the sun do its job best - I'll show you below!
When infusing a herb in an oil, the most important thing to bear in mind is the plant can't have any moisture left on it, as water and oil don't mix and we're not using a preservative, using a fresh herb picked straight from th garden with dew still on it and infusing straight away would unfortunately make the oil go rancid and unuseable for any future cosmetic recipes. You can by all means pick your herbs straight from your garden and use them! (As long as you know for certain you have picked the correct plant!) In these instances, you would just have to wash the plant picked and lay out to dry in warm area inside your house on cloth or mesh would be ideal for a few days so the plant can dry out. Or you can buy ready dried cut herbs from a herb supplier and start infusing them straight away!
You will need: a glass jar, chosen herbs, chosen oil (odourless ones would work best e.g. olive, sunflower, grapeseed, almond, unless you have an end product in mind such as a facial oil for your skin type), a windowsill/balcony that gets a lot of sunlight - that's it!
Place your herb into your jar (make sure the jar is sterilised by soaking in hot, soapy water first and then rinse and dry thoroughly), about half way or three quarters up the jar, then pour over your oil so all the herbs are covered. Make sure you leave a gap between the top of the oil and the lid of the jar so there is room for the herb to expand. Then seal tightly, label and leave on a sunny windowsill! Give it a shake every few days, and it is ready to strain and transfer to a glass bottle (preferably amber or blue to make it last longer) after at least 2 weeks of infusing, the colour should have taken on in the oil, at this point you can also strain the oil and infuse again with a new batch of the same dried herb to make the oil stronger. Once bottled the infused oil should last up to 12 months.
The final infused oil can then be used as part of herbal salves, creams, lotion and beauty recipes! I've chosen the herbs Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and Marigold (Calendula officinale) to infuse here as they possess wonderful medicinal properties when applied topically: Lemon balm provides anti-bacterial and anti-viral actions particularly against Herpes simplex, which is the cause of common cold sores, making it a perfect addition to a healing and soothing lip balm. Marigold flowers are calming and soothing to skin making it perfect for any inflammation or irritation to the skin from burns, cuts, insect bites etc, it's also antiseptic and anti-virals and can be incorporated into creams to treat varicose veins, bruise, poor healing wounds. Many herbs can be made into infused oils, just bear in mind the plants taht can be applied topically and will give the most useful results, these are more often than not the more fragrant plants as they will contain essential oil components, so therefore have the best qualities to transfer into an oil; some great ideas to try are Rose, Lavender, Arnica (or Daisies make a great local UK alternative!), Rosemary, Chilli peppers, Mullein, Comfrey and many more!
This is such an easy way to use herbs and create your own herbal remedies - if you give it a go tag me on my social media so I can see what concoctions you have come up with! Also I always upload my recent blog posts across all platforms so follow and keep your eyes peeled for how I'll use these sun-infused herbs!
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Hope you enjoyed this blog post and thank you for reading! I'll be back next week!
My name is Helen Davison and I'm a NIMH registered practising Medical Herbalist based in Ramsbottom, Lancashire. I've had a keen interest in herbal remedies since my early teens and would experiment creating my own balms and bath bombs using natural ingredients, which prompted me in discovering and pursuing a career in Western Herbal Medicine.