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Saturday, January 31, 2009

How To Make an Herbal Oil Infusion for Soap Making


Calendula Petals Infusing in Olive Oil-David Fisher

Whether it's for the healing properties of the herbs or the scent, it's not hard to infuse herbs into the oils you use to make soaps, lotions and other body products. Calendula and lavender are quite popular to infuse, but eucalytpus, sage, patchouli and rosemary are also wonderful.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 1 hour or longer

Here's How:
1. Put the herbs (1/4 - 1 cup) and oil (16 oz.) into the crock pot or double boiler. Stir gently.
2. Heat the herbs very slowly, stirring gently every once in a while.
3. Bring the temperature to about 120 - 130 degrees. Any higher and you risk "cooking" the herbs rather than helping them to infuse your oil.
4. Let the oils simmer for an hour or so. Let them cool. Bring back to temperature and simmer again for another hour or so. If you're using a reliable crock pot, you can just set it to heat for a few hours.
5. Let the herbs cool a bit, but not completely.
6. Strain the oil through three or four layers of cheesecloth into your mason jar. Be sure to squeeze the last bits of oil from the herbs - like a tea bag.
7. Use the oils as you normally would in soap and toiletry recipes.

Tips:
1. Herb suggestions: Lavender, Calendula, Peppermint, Patchouli, Sage, Chamomile, Catnip (great to keep mosquitoes away!, Annatto (for color). The herbs should be crushed or lightly ground but not powdered!
2. You can simmer the oils for several hours, but it's important to not cook/fry them.
3. You can re-infuse the oils several times to make double or triple strength oils.
4. Some people skip the crock pot altogether and just place the oils in a warm window to steep for 24-48 hours. This would be akin to making "sun tea". I personally prefer the crock pot method, but the window method does work.

What You Need:
* Double Boiler or Crock Pot
* 16 oz. of an oil with a good shelf life - jojoba, olive, coconut, macadamia
* Approx 1/2 - 3/4 cup of dried herbs
* Mason Jar
* Cheesecloth
* Thermometer


By David Fisher, About.com
-From: http://candleandsoap.about.com/od/coldprocesssoapmaking/ht/htoilinfusion.htm