Oil Infusions and Salves (class handout)

(Pictured from left to right: infused oils of St. Johnswort, White Pine, Chapparal, White Sage. It's hard to tell in the photo, but they are all bright colors: bright red, dark green, golden yellow, and neon green. Simply magical.) 

Oil Infusions

Oil Infusion Methods
- Long/ slow infusion (2 weeks)
- Solar/ Lunar infusion (can integrate into the slow infusion)
- Hot infusion (faster, for mucilaginous plant materials ie. Comfrey, or thicker materials ie. Barks, roots, and seeds)
- Crock pot (on low, 2-12 hrs)
- Stove top/ Double boiler (1/2- 1 hr)
- Oven extraction (120 F, 8-12 hrs)

Making Oil Infusions: folk method
1. Prepare the plant. Collect fresh plants. Depending on the plant and your preferences/ access, you will use it fresh, freshly wilted, fresh dried, or dried.
2. Process the plant. Chop it into small pieces. The smaller the better, to expose more surface area to oil. If using dried plant materials, you can even powderize the plant, though I find that difficult to strain afterwards.
3. Fill up a glass jar with your prepared plant material. Leave two inches at the top. Pack the jar so that it’s firm, but not overpacked.
4. Fill the glass jar again with oil. Completely cover the plant material. Poke it all with a stick, to release any air bubbles.
5. Cap it, and use your oil infusion method of choice (see above).
6. When finished infusing, strain out the plant material, and rebottle your remaining infused oil. I like to keep old natural-fiber clothing, and cut it into squares to place over containers as strainers, then just throw away the cloth afterwards, to avoid the tedious task of trying to clean cloth saturated with oil.
7. If you infused a plant with higher water content, then let sit for 2-4 days. Any remaining water from the plant will sink to the bottom. Pour off the oil from the top, to separate that from the watery mix. Use the watery oil up first. The “pure” oil will last longer.
7. Label, and store in a cool, dry, dark place.

Oils to Infuse into
(Other oils may work, too)

Heavier oils:
- Olive oil
- Jojoba oil
- Sesame oil (raw)

Lighter oils:
- Almond oil
- Apricot kernel oil
- Grapeseed oil

Solid at room temperature:
- Coconut oil
- Animal fat

(Note comodogenic vs. non-comodogenic oils, for sensitive skin types)

Oils/ Waxes to add
- Cocoa butter
- Shea butter

- Avocado oil
- Argan oil
- Castor oil

Antioxidant oils:
- Rosehip seed oil
- Carrot seed oil
- Evening primrose oil
- Vitamin E oil

- Beeswax
- Carnauba wax (from the Brazilian palm tree)


Salve Proportions
Adding more wax creates a harder salve; adding less wax creates a softer salve. Experiment with what consistency you like.
1 oz wax (weight): 4-8 oz oil (volume)

Making Salves
1. Prepare your oils. Measure out how much salve you want to make, and blend our oil infusions and other oils accordingly. Pour into a glass jar with a pouring spout (I love beakers), and place into a metal pot. Fill water around your glass jar, to create a double boiler.
2. Heat it up.
3. Add wax, at your chosen proportions. It’s easiest to have pre-grated beeswax, and a dedicated grater just for beeswax.
4. Mix it with a spoon. Take out a small amount on the spoon and put into the freezer, to test its consistency texture. Modify as necessary, adding small amounts of wax or oil, until satisfied. It’s easier to slowly add more wax, instead of oil.
5. Once ready, remove it from the stovetop. If you want to add vitamin E or essential oils, then let it cool a little bit, then stir it in at the end, before it solidifies. The essential oils can explode, if the temperature is too high.
6. Pour into the awaiting jars.
7. Let cool. You might have to top off the salve as it dries, as it can create a funnel in the middle of the salve, as it dries.
8. Cap and label.
9. Store in cool areas, or carry around for frequent usage. Enjoy!

Categories of Usage
- General skin care (ie. Vulnerary, for dry skin, skin food, skin healing, etc)
- Pleasure (ie. Personal lubricant, massage oil, perfumes, aromatherapy, after- bath, spiritual/ ceremonial, etc)
- For skin problems (ie. Astringent, demulcent, antiseptic, etc for acne, exzema, dermatitis, etc)
- For pain (ie. Musculo-skeletal relaxant, smooth muscle relaxant, anti- inflammatory, etc for joint pain, connective tissue, muscular pain, belly aches, etc)
- First aid/ wound care (ie. Antiseptic, vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, etc for cuts, scrapes, bruises, burns, etc)
- Scar/ wrinkle reduction (ie. Vulnerary, antioxidant, etc)

(What to write on your label, for a “mother medicine,” or a “simple.”)
- Common name of plant
- Scientific name of plant
- Date collected/ processed
- Part of the plant
- State of the plant (ie. Dried, fresh, fresh wilted, etc)
- Where plant came from
- Proportion/ method of extraction/ menstruum

Local Connecticut Plants for Oil Infusions and Salves
(A few suggestions. Note that a star* denotes tasty oil infusions. A ^ denotes a non-local, or cultivated plant.)

Vulnerary (skin healing)
- Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
- St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum)
- Plantain (Plantago major, P. lanceolata)
- Chickweed (Stellaria medea)
- Aloe (Aloe vera) ^
- Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) ^
- Calendula (Calendula officinalis) ^
- Milky oat tops (Avena sativa)

- Rose petals, hips, seeds (Rosa spp.) *
- Evening primrose seeds (Oenothera spp.) *
- Carrot seeds (Daucus carota)

Anti-inflammatory (pain easing)
(“A”= antibacterial)
- Willow (Salix spp.)
- Birch (Betula spp.)
- Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
- Mullein (Verbascum spp.)
- Mugwort (Artemisia spp.) (A) *
- Beebalm (Monarda spp.) (A)
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) (A)
- Conifer needles, inner bark, resin (A) *
- Arnica (Arnica montana) ^
- Tumeric (Curcuma longa) ^
- Poplar buds (Populus spp.)

- Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)
- Pine/ Conifers (Pinus spp.)
- Cedar (Thuja spp.)
- Barberry (Berberis spp.)
- Mugwort (Artemisia spp.)
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
- Chaparral (Larrea tridentata) ^

Circulatory stimulant
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale) *
- Cayenne (Capsicum annuum)
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) *

Other tasty* oil infusions
(Lots of aromatic kitchen/ garden herbs here. Experiment!)
- Sage (Salvia spp.)
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus spp.)
- Garlic (Allium spp.)
- Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and other mustard plants: leaves, flowers, seeds

Brief Glossary
Menstruum= the solvent, or medium, that the plant material extracts into
Marc= the solute, or plant material
“Folk method”= fill it, and fill it again

1 C= 8 oz= 256 mL
1 oz= 32 mL
1 L = 3.9 C

Further explorations
Making body butters, lotions, and cremes:
- “Herbal Healing for Women,” by Rosemary Gladstar (well, any/ all of her books)
- “The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook,” by James Green
- “Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth,” by Sharol Tilgner
Lube/ aphrodisiacs:

Web resources: further reading/ projects
- On making Pine Pitch Salve, by Kiva Rose