Herbal infusions are made by “brewing” large amounts of herbs in water or oil. As the herbs steep, their nutrients are drawn out into the liquid. All of my infusions are done in oil that I then use in soaps, balms, or my all natural healing salve.
There are two ways to infuse herbs in oil:
Slow Infusion / Cold Infusion
Slow Herbal infusions are sometimes called cold infusions because there is no heating required and they are very simple. You place the herbs* in a glass jar, pour your carrier oil over the herbs, screw the lid on and let it sit for 4 to 6 weeks.
If the herbs soak up all the oil, add more oil. The oil should cover the herbs by at least an inch. You should give the jar a good shake every day because the herbs will settle.
There are differing opinions on the best way to do a slow herbal infusion. Some say you should put the jar in a warm sunny window, while others insist a brown paper bag over the jar to prevent direct sunlight is best. In my non-scientific opinion, none of it matters.
*The herbs must always be dried to prevent molding/rancidity in the oil from water particles.
For reference, I use at least a cup of herbs per 1 quart jar and make sure the oil covers the herbs by at least an inch.
My favorite carrier oils for herbal infusions are grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, almond oil, and rice bran oil.
Rapid Infusion / Hot Infusion
Rapid infusion is sometimes referred to as Hot infusion because its made with a heating source or almost boiling water. As with the slow herbal infusion, the herbs and oil are put into the jar. The jar is then placed in a pot of water on a low simmer (not boiling!) for 8 to 12 hours. Alternately, you can put the jar in a crock pot with water if you don’t want to babysit the stove. Add more water to the pot as it evaporates to keep the water level above the oil level. I put a washcloth into the water underneath the jar to prevent direct contact with the hot surface.
Today I am making a Rapid Herbal Infusion for my Herbal Healing Balm. Since I want these to go out in my holiday gift boxes I don’t have the luxury of time so rapid infusion it is.
My ingredients for this infusion are:
- Organic Plantain Leaf
- Goldenseal Root
- Organic Comfrey Leaf
- Pine Resin
- Organic Calendula Flowers
- Organic St. John’s Wort
These herbs all have incredible healing properties and I have researched them thoroughly, however I did not come up with the blend myself. Unfortunately I have no idea who did so I can’t give them credit.
I portioned out the ingredients and added them to the jar. I made sure to put enough oil into the jar to completely cover the herbs but some of them float so it’s hard to see that. Also, I could have used a larger pot because it was just tall enough to keep the water line above the oil line in the jar but it works.
After the oil and herb mixture has been sitting in this warm bath for 8-12 hours it will be a much deeper color and have taken on the properties in the herbs that I want in my Healing Salve. I strain mine through cheesecloth when it’s done.
*I don’t screw the lid on my jar while it steeps and I’m not sure if that would help or hurt the process to be honest so any input on this from someone else is welcome.