These 3 simple methods to make herbal oil will become the base of all of your homemade herbal medicines and body products. Infusing oil with healing herbs is a great way to make many bases for homemade beauty and body products such as lotions, salves, and lip balm.

I love to make calendula oil this way for my homemade healing 2 ingredient calendula salve! You can use herbal oil in place of plain oils for recipes like vegan lip balm or to use as a good face oil after your toner.

Brightly lit clear glass containers with oil inside.
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Ingredients

You'll need an appropriate oil and herbs of your choice. Both are outlined in some detail below, so keep reading for some notes on what's best.

Oil Options

When choosing a oil to infuse, look for an oil high in omega-9 oleic acid. Some good options for herbal oil include:

  • Olive oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Apricot kernel oil
  • Almond oil

Herbs to Use in Infused Oils

Different herbs contain different healing properties. When choosing herbs, look for the best quality, organic, herbs. You can grow most of these at home if you have the space for a medicinal garden. If you want to make a blend of multiple herbs, I recommend using dried.

Depending on the herbs chosen, you'll either want to use fresh or dried. When using fresh herbs be sure to leave them out for 24 hours so that the extra moisture will evaporate.

  • Arnica flowers: great for swelling, bruises, as well as aches and sprains.
  • Lavender: the perfect herb to make a relaxing and antibacterial salve. Great to use before bed.
  • Chamomile: like the tea, adding chamomile makes for a calming salve.
  • Comfrey: a great plant to help with pain and inflammation, I've also used it for eczema.
  • Lemon balm: cooling and calming on skin irritations. Good for bug bites.
  • Peppermint: a great oil to massage into sore muscles and feet.
  • St. John’s wort: a deep penetrating oil for sore limbs.

Herbs to Use Dry

  • Calendula
  • Lavender
  • Lemon balm
  • Oregano
  • Lemon balm
  • Chamomile

Herbs to Use Fresh

  • Mullein
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Tusli
  • St. John's wort
A Weck jar filled with dry calendula petals on a kitchen shelf.

Cold Method Infusion

This method to make herbal oil is best to use with dried herbs. If your herbs are large, chop or break them up into smaller pieces so there is more surface area for the oil to extract the benefits of the plants.

  1. Fill the sterilized jar with the herbs.
  2. Top the dried herbs with oil of choice. Be sure to cover them all to prevent mold growth.
  3. Use a knife to pop and remove any air pockets.
  4. Cover the jar with a sterilized lid. Leave the jar in a dark, cool, area (like a pantry or cupboard). Leave the oil to infuse for 4-6 weeks.
  5. After the herbs have infused, strain the oil with cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer.
  6. Label the oil and store in a cool, dry place to preserve the potency.

Solar Method Infusion

This is another folk method to extract the benefits of the plant. Some believe that the heat from the sun is a better form of extraction. Use any method interchangeably.

Solar method herbal oil steps 1 to 4, herbs in oil before and after being exposed to light and straining.

Step 1: add the herbs and oil to a clear glass jar. Place it in a sunny window or a sunny, protected spot in the garden. Give the jar a gentle shake every few days.

Step 2: Let the oil infuse for 4-6 weeks.

Step 3: strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth.

Step 4: transfer to a clean jar, seal, label, and store in a dark and cool location.

Double Boiler Infusion

This method to make herbal oil is faster, and one I use often. It is a good option if you're in a time crunch.

Step 1: combine the oil and herbs in a heat-safe bowl and place it over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn't touch the water.

Step 2: you have two cooking methods: cover the bowl with a lid and them simmer over low heat for 3-4 hours, or simmer for 10 minutes and then turn it off and let the herbs steep, repeating 8-12 times over a two day period.

Step 3: the oil is done once it takes on the colour and scent of the herbs. Strain it through a fine sieve or cheesecloth.

Step 4: transfer into a clean glass jar and store.

Top Tips

  • Increase the potency: if you want to make your herbal oil even more potent, drain the herbs out after 2-3 weeks and replenish with fresh herbs. Let them infuse in the oil for another 2-3 weeks (for either the cold or solar methods).
  • Use good quality ingredients: always use the best quality herbs you can—organic if possible.
  • Check the pot often: if doing the constant simmer in the double boiler, check the water level often so that the pot doesn't burn, and to keep an eye on the herbs to make sure they don't get deep-fried.

How to Store

Store your herbal oil in amber jars or in a dark cupboard for longevity. The oil can last for up to a year if stored correctly, but if it starts to smell off, it's no longer usable.

Woman dropping oil from a glass dropper into her hand.

FAQ

What is an herbal oil?

Herbal oils are extracts of herbs in a carrier oil. Similar to hydrosols, they carry the scents and many of the benefits of the herbs for use on your skin or hair.

What are herbal oils used for?

Use your herbal oil to make creams, lotions, salves, serums, facial oil, hair oil, lip balm, soaps, vinaigrette, and more. Anywhere you'd use the base oil, you can use the herbal oil.

What is the difference between herbal oils and essential oils?

Herbal oils are oils with herbs steeped in them for a long period of time, while essential oils are a highly concentrated compound of the herb or another plant, meaning that they need to be diluted. Herbal oil can be used as is.

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Brightly lit clear glass containers with oil inside.
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4.84 from 6 votes

Herbal Oils

These 3 simple methods to make herbal oil will become the base of all of your homemade herbal medicines and body products. This recipe can easily be doubled, tripped, or even halved. Because the time involved, it is best to make larger quantities. Feel free to use this oil in salves, creams, lip balms, and hair masks.
Prep Time10 minutes
Additional Time30 days 10 hours
Total Time30 days 10 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup olive oil or sunflower oil, apricot kernel oil, or almond oil
  • ½ cup packed fresh or dried herbs like arnica flowers, lavender, chamomile, comfrey, lemon balm, peppermint, St. John’s wort, or calendula

Instructions

Cold Method Infusion

  • This method to make herbal oil is best to use with dried herbs. If your herbs are large, chop or break them up into smaller pieces so there is more surface area for the oil to extract the benefits of the plants.
  • Fill the sterilized jar with the herbs.
    ½ cup packed fresh or dried herbs
  • Top the dried herbs with oil of choice. Be sure to cover them all to prevent mold growth. Use a knife to pop and remove any air pockets.
    1 cup olive oil
  • Cover the jar with a sterilized lid. Leave the jar in a dark, cool, area (like a pantry or cupboard). Leave the oil to infuse for 4-6 weeks.
  • After the herbs have infused, strain the oil with cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer.
  • Label the oil and store in a cool, dry place to preserve the potency.

Solar Method Infusion

  • This is another folk method to extract the benefits of the plant. Some believe that the heat from the sun is a better form of extraction. Use either method interchangeably.
  • Follow the steps as stated above.
  • Instead of storing the herb oil in a dark spot, place it in a sunny window or in the garden. Give the jar a gentle shake every few days.
  • Let the oil infuse for 4-6 weeks and strain as above. Seal and label and store in a dark and cool location.

Double Boiler Infusion

  • This method to make herbal oil is faster, and one I use often. It is a good option if you're in a time crunch.
  • Begin by setting up a double boiler, but make sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the top bowl.
  • In the bowl combine the oil and herbs. If you want to do this super-fast, cover the bowl with a lid and allow the water to come to a simmer on leave on low heat for 3-4 hours (check the water level often so that the pot doesn't burn, and to keep an eye on the herbs to make sure they don't get deep-fried).
  • When the oil takes on the scent and colour of the herb it's done. I prefer a lazy version of this method where I bring the water to a low simmer for 10 minutes then turn it off and let the herbs steep. I do this off and on again just about each time I enter the kitchen over a two day period—say 8-12 times total.
  • Once the herbs are infused in the oil, drain the mixture through cheesecloth and store as above.

3 Comments

    1. you can use something light like maybe a sunflower oil—and although all oils will work, it depends on what you'd like to put on your skin,

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