Now that spring is here, and the wonderful healing weeds and flowers are out, we can begin to make infused oils. I always recommend making infused oils rather than buying essential oils, for a number of reasons. Essential oils cannot be made at home as they require a complicated chemical process that is very similar to how pharmaceutical drugs are made. The process is one of extracting, purifying, and concentrating, resulting in a product that is not whole in any way. Instead of connecting with the entirety of a plant, we are only interacting with the one constituent that has been removed for us in a laboratory. Furthermore, essential oils require thousands of pounds of plant material for a very small amount of product, which cannot be environmentally sustainable. On another note, my herbal medicine teacher Susun Weed reports that some commonly used essential oils like lavender can affect hormones in young boys and girls. They are very potent - please consider using them in tiny amounts if at all!
How to Make Infused Oils
You will need:
A glass jar with a lid
a small plate or bowl
Enough *fresh* but dry plant material to pack a jar of your choosing full.
Olive or almond oil to entirely cover the jar, the less scented the oil the better
A chopstick to stir
When harvesting flowers or plants for oils, be sure that it has not rained for at least 48 hours prior and harvest well into the day so that any dew will have evaporated. Some plants to consider infusing in springtime are Calendula, Lilac, Rose, Red Clover, Dandelion, Plantain and Chickweed. If you have any doubts about the dryness of the plants, let them wilt for a day or two (out of direct sunlight) before infusing with oil.
Fill your jar of choice with plant material, packing it tightly to the top. Pour your oil slowly into the jar and use a chopstick to distribute it evenly throughout. Make sure that the herb is completely covered at the top, then lid. Shake gently and reopen to see if more oil is needed. Place a label on the lid of your jar with the plant name and date. Don't place the label on the side of the jar as the oil will inevitably seep out and melt it off! Place jar on small saucer and then let it sit in a cool spot out of direct sunlight for 6 weeks. Sunlight can make oils rancid. Shake your jar gently once a week or so and watch out for any mold, which is caused by moisture in the plant. If there is mold, best to discard and start again.
After six week's time, strain the oil and place back in jar or in a new container, again storing it out of direct light. If you will be making a salve with your oil, gently heat it in a small sauce pan and add a small amount of beeswax. The amount you will need varies, but trial and error has worked well for me. The more beeswax the harder the end product. Store your salve in a tin or small glass jar.
I hope this tutorial has been helpful! Please feel free to ask questions in the comments section.