02 June 2016
Herbal Oils & Salves
Foundations in Medicine Making - Part 5
Herbal constituents can be released into and stored in various solutions such as water, oil, vinegar and alcohol. Some liquids (called menstruums in herbal medicine making) facilitate the release of different compounds and can be more or less effective depending on the plant and it's properties. Below are several different techniques for extracting herbs with oil from Ceara Foley's class at the 2016 Herbal Conference.
Oils are an effective way to introduce herbs directly on and through the skin. I prefer to use olive oil for medicinal purposes due to its healing properties and long shelf life and almond or apricot oil for massage and skin care.
Fresh Plant Infused Oils
Mold is a common problem when introducing water rich plant material to an oil base.
*Pick the leaves or flowers after the dew has dried but before the sun has heated and released the essential oils.
*Clean and lay out the leaves or flowers for 24 hours. I call this limp drying. The plant material is still fresh with some of the initial moisture released to cut down on the mold factor.
*Tear, cut or chop the herbs into small pieces and choose the approximate size jar for the amount of herb. Fill the jar fairly packed, but not jammed.
*Pour the oil over and above the herb, making sure nothing is left to be exposed to air. Do not leave a large air gap space.
*Place in a warm spot where you will remember to shake it every day for 2 weeks.
*Watch carefully each time you shake making sure the herb is below the oil level.
*After 2 weeks, strain and store in a dark place.
*If using anything but olive oil, store in the refrigerator.
Here is a brief list of fresh herbs one might consider:
*Yarrow Flower & Leaf
*St. John’s Wort Flower
Dried Plant Infused Oils
Dried herb oils are quite easy since there is no danger of mold. Simply place the herb in an appropriate size jar and cover with oil. As the plant material swells and rehydrates, make sure you have a good slosh factor. Continue as with Fresh Plant Oils.
From the infused oils you can now make a salve from any combination of herbs depending on the purpose of the salve.
*Warm blended oil slowly on the stove. Add 1/3 cup grated beeswax per 1 cup infused oil. Heat oil only enough to melt beeswax. Remove from heat.
*Take a clean metal butter knife and dip into the mixture. Place in freezer and in moments you can check the consistency of your salve.
*If you like the viscosity, add essential oils if desired.
*Pour into jars and store in a cool, dark location.