If you’re looking to make herb-infused oil to use in home remedies or in your favorite recipes, you’re in the right place.
Herb infused oil has many uses on the homestead and making it is a great skill to have for unpredictable times.
But it’s about as simple as it gets, so it’s a great homesteading activity for homestead newbies and pros alike.
Why Infused Oils?
There are two main uses for herb-infused oils. One is that you can use them in your cooking for a different flavor.
Herbal infusions can be used any way you use regular olive oil or other cooking oil. Garlic oil is an example of an herb-infused oil!
The other way to use herb-infused oils is in medicinal and personal care products. If there is an herb you love in tea, you can probably also infuse it in oil for its topical benefits.
If you’re not sure which herbs to use in your infusion, check out this post on the 12 best healing herbs.
What You Need for Herb-Infused Oil
While you only need herbs and oil, there are many choices for both. Here’s what you need to know to choose the right ones:
It’s really important to use dried herbs because if they have moisture in them the oil can get moldy and rancid.
However, I have used fresh or wilted herbs in infusions successfully. The key is to heat over low heat. The heating can evaporate the moisture in the herbs.
You still run some risk of mold, but for herbs that are difficult to dry (like dandelions), or if you need an infusion fast this method can work.
You can use leaves, flowers, stems, and roots depending on which herb you are using and what effect you’re after. If I don’t have herbs in my garden to use I buy my herbs from Pronounce Skincare or Starwest Botanicals.
A carrier oil is an oil that you infuse your herbs in. Here are some of my favorites:
- Olive oil – Best for culinary uses since olive oil is on the thick side and doesn’t soak into the skin that easily. But I do add it to hand lotions and it works well as part of a recipe (vs. being used on its own).
- Sweet almond oil – This highly emollient oil soaks into the skin easily, so if you’re making a skin oil to use on its own, this is a good choice.
- Coconut oil – This oil is not very deeply moisturizing but does have it’s own antimicrobial properties. I use this one when I’m making something to fight infections. Note that coconut oil is solid at room temperature so I always add it to other liquid oils if I want it to be liquid.
- Avocado oil – More mild tasting than olive oil, avocado oil is a good choice for recipes where you don’t want the oil to overpower your dish. It’s also moisturizing so it works well in skin preparations but it’s expensive so I don’t use it often.
I always buy organic oils for the best quality. It’s one of the things I feel is important to get organic while other things (like bananas) are less important if I’m on a budget (which is usually).
Some of the links above are for Pronounce Skincare. It’s my favorite small business to get oils, herbs, and other ingredients for handmade products.
How to Make an Herbal infusion (Herb Infused Oil)
The process of making herb-infused oil is very simple. Here are the basic steps:
- Combine herbs and oil in a jar
- Set in a sunny window for 4-6 weeks
- strain herbs from oil and place infused oil in a cool, dark place.
It’s simple isn’t it?
An infused oil that can be used for recipes or home remedies.
- 1 cup herbs
- 1 1/2 cup carrier oil
- Add herbs to jar.
- Cover with oil to within an inch of the top of the jar (some herbs will float -- that's okay).
- Place in a sunny window for 4-6 weeks.
- Strain herbs out of oil.
- Store oil in a cool, dark place.
For a faster infusion, heat the ingredients over low heat for 3-4 hours (a slow cooker or double boiler works well). Strain herbs and store oil as indicated above.
How to Use Herb Infused Oils
There are many ways you can use herb-infused oils. Here are some of my favorite ideas for using herb-infused oils:
- Healing salve
- Face cleansing oil
- Homemade soaps
- Salad dressing
- Sauteing and roasting
Anytime that a recipe or skincare recipe calls for oil, you can use an herb-infused oil for the added topical benefits!
Herb-Infused Oils FAQs
You may have some questions about making herb-infused oils. here are common ones:
How Long Does Herb-Infused Oil Last?
Once you strain the herbs out of the oil, your herb-infused oil should last a year or more. You can also add vitamin E oil if you’re planning on using the oil for topical preparations. This will increase the oils shelf-life.
How Do You Infuse Coconut Oil with Herbs?
Since coconut oil is solid at room temperature it must be heated in order to infuse it.
If you’re infusing through the summer (or live in a warm climate) where the temperatures will stay above 76 degrees F, you can infuse it alone.
If not, you may want to mix coconut oil with another oil to keep it liquid (it may still harder if it gets too cool). You could also infuse another oil and just mix it with coconut oil after.
What is the Fastest Way to Infuse Oil?
The stovetop or slow cooker version of this recipe is the fastest way to make an infused oil. If I needed to make a remedy quickly, I would use this method.
Can You Put Fresh Herbs in Olive Oil for an Infusion?
Dried herbs are best for an infusion because the moisture from fresh can encourage mold growth and rancidity in the oil. You can use fresh herbs in your infused oil if you are planning on using it quickly.
If you do use fresh, I would make sure to use the heated method to evaporate as much moisture as possible.
Do You Need to Refrigerate Infused Oil?
You should store the infused oil in a cool dry place for best storage, but you don’t need to put it in the refrigerator. In fact, refrigerators can be humid, so it may be best to avoid storing oil in the refrigerator.
How Will I Know If My Oil is Bad?
Usually, if your oil is bad you will be able to tell by the smell. If it smells off (metallic, bitter, soapy, waxy, etc) you should toss it.
You can also tell by touch. Rancid oil gets a bit sticky inside the jar.
Herbal Oil Infusions: So Many Possibilities!
I love using herbs for minor issues at home rather than using over-the-counter medications.
Learning to make oil infusions can help you to learn how to use the herbs you’re growing (lavender is one of my favorites).
What is your favorite infused oil and how do you use it?
Resa Pratt says
Dear Helping Guide,
I appreciated the directions. It’s just what I needed to get started.🌿
Glad it was helpful!
Can vegetable glycerin be used as the carrier if sweet almond oil isn’t available?
I haven’t tried using glycerin in place of oil in this recipe so I’m not sure. If you try it, I’d be interested to find out how it went.
Janice Berryman says
You published about a herb infused oil using Calendula and Comfrey for a healing salve but I can’t find measurements of each. (You wrote in recipe above but I couldn’t find it) Please advise.
In the recipe card, it says 1 cup herbs and 1.5 cups oil. For comfrey and calendula oil just use 1/2 cup of each.