As the strength of the hot sun coaxes flowers to open, it signals ’tis the season to get busy making herbal oils.
For those new to making herbal medicines, making an herbal oil may seem an intimidating task, but rest assured, once you’ve done it, it soon becomes one of the easiest tasks of medicine making. The rewards of this skill are plenty — herbal oils can be fashioned into so many wonderful healing delights: massage oils, healing salves, chest rubs for colds and coughs, moisturizing lotions, and beautiful face creams to name just a few.
While you can make an herbal oil with dried herbs, I prefer making mine with fresh. I recently made some fresh St. John’s wort oil (Hypericum perforatum). Here’s how I did it– go ahead and apply these instructions to any other herb suitable to make into an oil. Just a few examples of herbal oils that you can make this time of year are: mullein flowers, calendula flowers, lavender flowers, rose petals, arnica blossoms.
1. First, select your location. I found a nice clump of St.John’s Wort with new buds and new flowers coming up. On a dry sunny day, pinch off a combination of almost-opening buds and newly open buds, being sure to avoid the wilted, exhausted flower heads that are on their way dying. I filled a 1 litre mason jar about a third of the way full of blossoms, brought it into the house, and covered the blossoms by filling my jar almost full with organic sesame oil.
2. Then, I set it on a sunny window sill, and covered the lid with paper towel, and secured the paper towel with a mason jar lid ring. There are two purposes for this: 1) the paper towel permits moisture to evaporate in the hot and dry environment of the window sill 2) prevents bugs, dust, and other particles from ending up in my oil.
– I chose sesame oil because it’s more stable than olive oil, readily available where I live, and it’s a thinner oil than olive oil hence less greasy in texture.
– I filled my jar not quite to the top with oil, because, as some of you know St.John’s Wort continues to produce new flowers and new fresh buds everyday, about a week when it’s in it’s prime. I want to leave extra room in my jar should the oil level rise as I add new flowers daily, as they are available by mother nature.
– When I’m making a fresh herbal oil from flowers that are hard to come by in abundance at one time, and tend to produce over a series of days, I collect daily and put them immediately into my jar of oil. I also do this with mullien flowers.
3. I leave this jar undisturbed on my windowsill for a minimum of 10 days – 2 weeks, preferably 21 days. I do not shake it, and I do not remove it from the location. This is called a Solar Infusion. We are using the powerful heat units of the sun to extract and then transfer the medicinal virtues of the plant into the oil. This can also be done on a very low flame on your kitchen stove.
4. After 14-21 days pass, I separate the plant material from the oil by running it through cheesecloth into a clean, dry bowl or measuring cup. DO NOT SQUEEZE! You do not want to squeeze any trapped water from the plant into your oil. I compost the cheesecloth and exhausted flower blossoms, and once again transfer the now-herbally-infused oil into a clean, bone dry jar, and fasten with a lid. I store this oil in a dark place with even temperature until I am ready to use it.
I use this method of making a solar infused oil with calendula, rose blossoms, rosemary, and dandelion flowers too.