the family medicine chest is an ongoing series on the fourth thursday of each month.
making herbal oils is just as easy as making herbal tinctures. the only difference is, they can be made faster if time is of essence.
there are two main ways to make an oil: the sun method and the stove top method. i will discuss both.
first, start with some herbs and an oil of your choice. if you want a massage oil, use something light like grape seed oil. if you want something more emollient, use olive oil. generally, i use olive oil. for my baby oil, i use apricot kernel oil (middle of the road).
for demonstration purposes, i’ll be using the apricot kernel oil and three dried herbs: rose petals, chamomile and comfrey leaf. you can use any herb you wish. it can be dried or fresh. to use dried herbs, use a ratio of 1/3 herb to 2/3 oil. for fresh herbs, i use 1/2 of each or 3/4 fresh to 1/4 oil.
when using fresh herbs, make sure they are freshly wilted. to wilt them, pick them in the morning then leave them out in the shade to wilt until afternoon. this will allow some of the water to evaporate. water is the #1 enemy to oil and will cause it to go rancid. this is why i generally choose to use dried herbs (although when harvesting my st. john’s wort flowers, i use fresh). deciding which herbs to use dried and which to use fresh will come with experience.
for sun/moon infused oils (my preferred method), i place the herb and oil into a jar, seal (some people will put wax paper over the mouth before screwing on the lid so that metal doesn’t contact the oil) and place in a sunny spot for 2-3 weeks. shake daily while singing and talking to the herbs. (as an aside, i am currently taking master naturalist training and our last class was botany. the extension office leader was stating that plants don’t talk. i beg to differ, i speak to my plants all the time asking for their help, guidance, blessings and healing power as well as permission to harvest them. i always wait until i get a response from them. it takes patience and persistence but the plants DO talk back). plants love to be spoken to and sang to. i fully believe it helps make the medicine.
after the initial period is over, strain off the herb and let the oil sit overnight. (put the spent herbs in the compost and thank them for their healing energy/powers they have given the oil). the next day (24 hours later) pour off the oil carefully leaving behind the dredges in the bottom which may contain some moisture/water.
label your oil with the type, date it was finished and oils used. store in a cool, dark place. the fridge may be needed for oils that go rancid easily.
to make on the stove top, pour the oil and herbs into a double boiler and gently simmer (do not let the oil boil) for 2-3 hours until the herbs look spent. strain off and follow as above.
your oil can be used as-is or can be made into a salve (stay tuned, next month we’ll have a salve making tutorial). it should last several months to a year or more depending on the oil and methods of storing.
the usual disclaimer: i am not a licensed physician and cannot give medical advice. if you are sick, please consult your physician. this information is for informational purposes only. plus a bit more: also, sometimes, i forget to cross my t’s and dot my i’s. i apologize in advance, i am not a professional (nor are my comrads in this blog), i am just a gal who likes to write about my experiences and share with others in hopes that i may help someone heading down the same path i am on.