Knowing how to make a good quality herbal oil really is an important skill to have in your herbalist toolkit. While there are many ways to make an herbal oil, I am going to teach you the absolute best method that will produce the most potent lavender herbal oil. And believe me when I tell you I’ve tried all the methods!
What is Herbal Body Oiling?
Herbal body oiling is an age old practice of massaging oil that has been infused with an herb into the skin. It nourishes and moisturizes the skin. It also calms the nerves. Fat plays an important role in calming the nervous the system and allowing a person to feel safe in their body. When you combine a fat like olive oil with an herb that has calming, stress reducing constituents like lavender, you have a powerful remedy for healing and self-care.
What Are the Benefits of Lavender?
Lavender is well known for its healing powers. From anxiety to skin outbreaks, lavender in my opinion is the master soother. This gentle put powerful herb calms nerves, improves sleep and helps alleviate acne. Lavender is so efficient at what it does that I have found I can simply recall in my mind its fragrance and I feel a sense of calm come over me. Lavender herbal oil is something I always like to keep on hand to use after a stressful day.
How Do I Use Lavender Herbal Oil?
Lavender herbal oil is great to use directly on the skin. Self care is an investment and carving out time for an herbal body oiling practice is a great way to make that investment. You may choose to oil your entire body from head to toe or just focus on one small part like your neck, feet, breasts or belly. You may even choose to oil your scalp. Oiling can be done before or after a shower. If you oil before your shower allow at least 30 minutes for the oil to really seep in. If you decide to oil your scalp(something I recommend everyone try at least once) then you will want to shower after. I like oiling after my shower when my pores are open.
What is the Difference Between Herbal Oil and Essential Oils?
Herbal oils and essentials oils are very different products. Herbal oils are made by infusing an herb into an oil like olive oil. Its the same concept as making tea when you infuse herbs into water. Essential oils are made from the actual oil of the plants. The oil comes from the plant itself and is a very concentrated volatile oil. They are made by extracting the oil out of the plant in a process that requires several pounds of plant matter to create just a few drops. Essential oils should never be used directly on the skin the way you would an herbal oil.
The 1:7 Dried Herb to Oil Ratio
The best herbal oil is made with 1 ounce of dried herb for every 7 ounces of organic olive oil. This ratio is a guideline and you may find you want to tweak it after you have made a few batches. I usually do a double recipe so I use 2 oz. of dried lavender and 14 oz. of organic olive oil. You can also triple it if you wish and use 3 oz. of dried herb and 21 oz. of organic olive oil.
Is Organic Necessary?
In my opinion yes. The oil is getting absorbed into your body and I think it is is absolutely necessary to for your ingredients to be organic.
What is Muslin Cloth?
Muslin cloth is like cheesecloth but with a finer, tighter weave. It prevents really tiny particles like powdered herbs from getting through. You can purchase it from amazon here.
To Make Lavender Herbal Oil You Will Need:
2 ounce of dried lavender by weight for every
14 ounces of olive oil by volume.
100 proof alcohol
This means you will need to weigh your dried lavender on a digital scale and you will need to measure the olive oil in a measuring cup.
- Osterizer blender-classic 5 speed- you will only be using the motor, blade and base cap.
- 2 32 oz. Mason Jars with regular mouth *regular mouth is important because this is what will fit the blade and base cap of the blender. For the exact one I use click here.
- Muslin cloth
- Mason Jar Funnel or Canning Funnel *you can use any big funnel but the mason jar funnel works better because it sits on the jar better and has a wider neck which helps the straining process.
- Digital Scale
- Glass measuring cup
- 1 ounce measuring cup
- Turn on digital scale and change units to ounces instead of grams.
- Place a clean empty bowl on scale and tare so it reads 0.
- Next start adding dried lavender to bowl. You will need 1 ounce of dried lavender. However I usually double the recipe and I add 2 ounces.
- Next unscrew bottom of blender removing the blade and base cap.
- Take your regular mouth mason jar and add weighed lavender to it.
- Attach the blade and base cap from the blender to the regular mouth mason jar. It should screw on perfectly.
- Blend until the lavender is powdered. You may wish to powder the herb in two batches.
- Next add the powdered lavender back into the bowl and to it add alcohol. You will need to 1/2 ounce alcohol for 1 ounce of powered herb. So for 2 ounces of powedered herb you will need 1 ounce of alcohol. This step is really important for making a very potent herbal oil.
- Mix up powdered lavender with alcohol until it is slightly moistened. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave for 12 hours.
- Next add powdered herb back into the mason jar and to it add 7 ounces of olive oil.
- Blend for 5 minutes setting a timer. You will continue this process of blending for 5 minutes every few hours for the next 48 hours. This step is key to making a potent herbal oil.
- After 48 hours the next step is straining the oil.
- Place a mason jar funnel on a mason jar and line the funnel with a large piece of muslin. Begin starining your oil by pouring it through the muslin. This is a slow process so give the oil time to stran through the cloth. You will most likely need to pour it in increments.
- Once all this oil is strained, gather the muslin together, twist and squeeze out any oil remaining.
Why Do You Add Alcohol When Making Herbal Oil?
The alcohol helps to make a more potent end product. You only need a small amount but it helps to slightly rehydrate the herb, which helps better infuse it into the oil. You do not have to use the alcohol but i do recommend it. There is not a non-alcoholic alternative that I am aware of.
Can I Just Use the Blender I Already Have?
Yes, you can use the blender you already have in your kitchen but I recommend having one just for herbal oils. Your regular blender will work fine but chances are it has absorbed other odors that could alter the smell of your oil.
How Do I Store the Herbal Oil?
To store your liquid you can keep it in the mason jar with a tight fitting lid and store in a cool dark cabinet. You may also choose to transfer it to a bottle with a dropper to make it easy to control the amount you apply to skin.
What Other Ways Can I Use Herbal Oil?
In addition to applying the herbal body oil right to your skin you can also use it to make a healing salve or a lip balm. A basic healing salve is made by combining melted beeswax with an herbal oil. A lip balm is also made this way. Another option is to add a little oil to your bath water or your children’s bath water.
To make a healing salve:
- Melt 1 ounce of beeswax in a double boiler.
- Once it is completely melted add 4 ounces of herbal oil. Some of the beeswax may become solid again right after adding the oil, this is completely normal. Just give it a minute or 2 to melt again.
- While the mixture is still warm, pour it into clean salve tins.
- Let the salve cool completely until solid before putting the top on the tin.
My Routine: Oil + Outlander
When I use my herbal body oil I lay out 1 or 2 big towels either on my bed or on the living room floor. I have a couple of towels that I use just for oiling. Then I put on an episode of Outlander and watch the whole thing while I apply oil. Once the episode is over, depending on how much I applied, I will either rinse off in the shower or just go right to sleep. Hint: My favorite part of the body to oil is behind my ears! Try it, trust me!
Other Dried Herbs You Can Try This Method With
- Plantain Leaf
- Calendula Flower
- Yarrow Leaf and Flower
If you like what your learned here you may also enjoy my post Herbs to Help You Sleep Better.