How to make herbal oil infusions & tinctures

Unfortunately for me, I lost almost half of my blog posts when I split my two blogs last year. I have no idea where the heck they went but they’re long gone. Most of these missing posts were tutorial in nature and it would be a shame to not repost them. Luckily, I was smart enough to save all of the photos so I can do just that. My first re-do is how to make herbal infusions. Most of the olive oils I use for salves, lotions, butters and sometimes conditioners are made from these herbal infusions. Olive oil is merely one oil option, however, it’s usually the most affordable. Coconut oil would be a fabulous substitute or sweet almond oil or rice bran or avocado oil…the list goes on. You can also follow the same steps below (just substitute the oil with 100-proof vodka or vegetable glycerin for the kiddies) to make medicinal tinctures that can be taken orally to help heal certain ailments. If you want to go a step further and gather your own herbs from mo’ nature, let me direct you to my post on harvesting and drying your own herbs here.

There’s a lot of confusing and sometimes dangerous information on the internet regarding the medicinal uses of plants. I suggest not looking to the internet and instead investing in a few good books. My personal favorite is The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants: A Practical Reference Guide to over 55o Key Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses by Andrew Chevallier. This is, without a doubt, worth the investment. It’s the best book I’ve seen on the subject and I’m pissed at myself for returning it to my former housemate Thom. Sometimes honesty does nothing for you. With that said, let’s get started!

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Gather your CLEAN jars. You can use spaghetti sauce jars if you want, it’s all good. Just make sure they’re clean and dry. I either boil mine in hot water or bleach them beforehand. Label them now so you don’t get confused later.
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Procure some herbs. I used a combination of herbs found in the bulk section of a local health food store and some I had gathered and dried from the wild. You can also go out into the garden and pick some fresh stuff. Dry or fresh, it doesn’t really matter just make sure your freshies are clean.
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(Skip this step if you’re making a tincture with vodka.) Start heating your oil. Do not boil, scorch, or super heat your oil to the point of smoking. If you do so, your herbs will be pissed and you can kiss their medicinal properties goodbye. What you want is to feel a gentle warmth when you hover your hand above the oil in the pot. Yup, it’s not rocket science.
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While your oil is warming, place your herbs in the correspondingly labeled jars and get your funnel ready to earn its keep. You don’t need to overstuff your jars with herbs either. Halfway is fine, even less is okay–use what you have. If you’re using fresh herbs, you’ll want to use more.
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(Skip this step if you’re making a tincture.) Add a couple drops of vitamin E oil to your jars. This is totally optional but it helps to slow down the oxidation process. In other words, it’ll help to prevent your oil from turning rancid. If you plan to use your oils quickly, you probably don’t have to sweat this step.
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Pour your warm oil (or room temp vodka) into the jars via the handy funnel.
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Take a break for a second because your arms are probably on fire at this point. Okay, break’s over. Now pour until you can’t pour no mo’!
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Give it a few minutes for your concoction(s) to cool down a bit, especially if you’re using fresh herbs because the water in them needs to evaporate, and then seal em’ up. Now shake!
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Shake your jars as often as possible. Leave them in a cool, dark place (like my heart) for at least a week or two before using. If you’re making a medicinal tincture, I suggest leaving them for three months, ideally six months if you can manage it. Remember to put the date on the label so you know how much time has passed. Enjoy!

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