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3 Methods For Making Herb-Infused Oils

Updated: Mar 18


3 Methods For Making Herb-Infused Oils

The world of herbalism is abundant, intriguing, and sometimes intimidating! But it doesn’t have to be. Projects like creating tinctures and basic salves can be mastered quickly once the steps are lined out, and they are often the gateway to higher botanical callings! 


Our favorite way to infuse oils is with the cold process method. Still, the heat process method is perfect for roots and barks or for those short on time, and the alcohol intermediary method is perfect for certain skin care products that may need a longer shelf life. 


Below, we’ll outline 3 methods for making herb-Infused oils. We recommend starting with the cold process method, as it is by far the simplest for a beginner to master.


Stocking the Home Apothecary

What Oil Should I Use For My Infusion?

The list of available carrier oils is vast. For beginners, we recommend starting out with olive oil or coconut oil because they have long shelf lives and are suitable for most applications, from skincare to culinary uses. Other options include:


Olive Oil

Olive oil is a medium-weight oil with an average absorbency rate. Due to its allergy-friendly and shelf-stable nature, it is one of the most widely used carrier oils in skin care products. 

Coconut Oil (Non-Fractionated)

Non-fractionated or raw coconut oil is a lightweight oil with an above-average absorbency rate.

It is one of the most nourishing oils for the skin, but many people have allergies to it,  and the oil can clog pores for some sensitive-skinned people.  Use sparingly in facial products.

Fractionated Coconut Oil

Fractionated coconut oil is among the lightest carrier oils available, with a high absorbency rate and powerful moisturizing properties. It boasts a long shelf life, but again, many people have allergies to it, and it can clog pores.  

Apricot Kernel Oil

Apricot Kernel oil is a light weight oil with an above-average absorbency rate. It’s one of the best all-around oils for skin care applications due to its light color and soothing, anti-inflammatory properties. Apricot Kernel Oil is an excellent choice for mature or sensitive skin types. 

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is a medium-weight oil with a high absorbency rate that penetrates deep into the skin. Avocado oil is commonly blended with other carrier oils since, when used by itself, it can leave a sticky or waxy feeling.

Castor Oil

Castor oil is one of the heaviest-weight oils commonly used in skin care products. It can leave a greasy or shiny coating on the skin, making it particularly useful for lip balms. 

Grapeseed

Grape seed oil is a light, ‘dry’ oil with a high absorbency rate.  Since it is exceptionally high in antioxidants and omega-6 fatty acids, it’s an excellent choice for formulations to treat eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. Be aware that Grapeseed oil has a short shelf life. 


Sweet Almond Oil

Sweet Almond Oil is a light to medium-weight oil with a medium absorbency rate. It’s known for its ability to soften and re-condition the skin. Because it has no flavor, it is a great choice for lip balms. 

Argan Oil

Argan oil is a high-end skincare oil with a medium-weight oil and medium absorbency rate that can leave a slightly oily feeling. It’s excellent at regenerating and soothing inflamed skin and reducing wrinkles, but there is some evidence that acne-prone skin could be aggravated by argan oil. 

Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil is a high-end skincare oil with a medium-weight and an above-average absorbency rate. It is one of the best oils for acne-prone skin and actually closely resembles your skin’s natural oil (sebum). 

Jojoba

Jojoba oil is a medium-thick with a high absorbency rate and a long shelf life. It’s rich in nutrients and works well for most skin types.  It’s an excellent moisturizer with a ‘grippy’ texture that reduces the slide or glide of a lotion product. Because of that, you may want to omit it from massage oils. 

Rosehip Seed Oil

Rosehip seed oil is a premium oil with a medium weight and high absorbency rate but a short shelf life. Due to its high essential fatty acid and antioxidant content, it’s particularly suitable for mature, sun-damaged, or weathered skin.  


Oil Infusion Basics

Always use dried herbs, plants, or roots when just starting out. Fresh botanicals can be used for infusions, but they take a lot of extra planning and several extra steps to ensure a stable finished product. Leave the fresh herbs for the day you can call yourself an advanced herbalist. 


Herbal oils can turn rancid or grow mold, especially when fresh herbs are used or if the carrier oil used is not shelf-stable (such as rosehip or grapeseed seed oil). You can help to mediate this by choosing the  alcohol intermediary infusion method. Aother option is to add a preservative like vitamin E oil. Do note, that these options can keep your infusions stable longer, but it will also make them unsuitable for eating.


When working with and straining your infused oils, it is best to wear gloves. While you can use your bare hands while working with oils, but is can be messy, and certain herbs, like turmeric, can stain your skin.


3 Methods For Making Herb-Infused Oils

The Cold Process or “Folk” Method

This method takes 30 days of wait time but very little labor. It is the most straightforward technique for any beginner to master!


You Will Need:

  • A sterilized jar with a lid (Mason jars are perfect for this, but any sealable glass jar will work.) 

  • Carrier oil of choice

  • Enough dried herbs to fill your jar ½ to ⅔ full

  • Cheesecloth,  a fine strainer, and or a coffee filter


The Process:

  • Crumble your dried plant matter into your sterile glass jar. 

  • Fill your jar with the carrier oil of your choice to about 1″ from the top. 

  • Use a clean chopstick or spoon handle to gently stir the herbs and oil, and release any air pockets in the jar.

  • Seal your jar and place it on a shelf for 4 - 6 weeks, shaking it every day or two to help the infusion process.

  • Once the herbs have macerated for the appropriate time (4-6 weeks), strain all of the plant matter out of the oil using a cheesecloth-lined strainer or a coffee filter. 


Your oil is now ready to use or it can be labeled and stored in a cool, dark place for up to one year (as long as you have used a shelf-stable oil.) 


The Heat Process Method

This method takes 3- 4 hours and is perfect for those times when you don’t have time to wait for weeks to get your infusion! It is also ideal for infusing roots and barks and is the only method I use when infusing fresh herbs. However, you need to take great care in this process because high heat can damage some of the more delicate herbs, rendering the final product less effective. 


You Will Need:

  • A sterilized jar with a lid (Mason jars are perfect for this, but any sealable glass jar will work.) 

  • Carrier oil of choice

  • Enough dried herbs to fill your jar ½ to ⅔ full

  • A double boiler (a pan of water combined with your glass jar will work) or a crockpot on a low setting

  • Cheesecloth,  a fine strainer, and or a coffee filter


The Process:

  • Crumble your dried plant matter into your sterile glass jar. 

  • Fill your jar with the carrier oil of your choice to about 1″ from the top. 

  • Use a clean chopstick or spoon handle to gently stir the plantain and oil, and release any air pockets in the jar.

  • Place your jar in your double boiler or crockpot (with 1” of water) on a low to medium heat and let sit for 3-4 hours, refilling water as needed. Be careful not to get any water into your oil infusion. 

  • Once the herbs have macerated over low heat for the appropriate time (3-4 hours), strain all of the plant matter out of the oil using a cheesecloth-lined strainer or a coffee filter. 

The Alcohol Intermediary Method

This method requires 24 hours to complete and should only be used for dried herbs. The finished product will be less prone to spoilage and have a longer shelf life. This method yields oils of exceptional color and potency. But do note that oils created with this method are unsuitable for eating or lip balms. 


You Will Need:

  • A blender

  • A coffee grinder or bullet grinder

  • A sterilized jar with a lid (Mason jars are perfect for this, but any sealable glass jar will work.) 

  • 8 oz carrier oil of choice

  • 1 oz dried herbs 

  • 1/2 oz. whole grain alcohol (like Everclear) or vodka

  • A double boiler (a pan of water combined with your glass jar will work) or a crockpot on a low setting

  • Cheesecloth,  a fine strainer, and or a coffee filter


The Process:

  • Using your coffee grinder, or bullet grinder, grind your herbs into a coarse powder (be careful not to grind too fine, or it will be difficult to strain later). 

  • Transfer your freshly ground herbs into your jar.

  • Pour the alcohol into the jar with ground herbs.

  • Put the lid on your jar and shake to combine. The resulting consistency should be that of damp beach sand.

  • Set aside for 24 hours to allow the herbs to macerate in alcohol.

  • Once maceration is complete, place the herbal material into a standing blender.

  • Add approximately 8 oz. of carrier oil to the blender pitcher with your herbal material. You may need to add more or less to completely cover your herbal mixture and ensure herbs are moving around in the blender.

  • Blend for approximately 5 minutes or until your blender jar is warm to the touch.

  • Once the mixture is blended, you can strain all of the plant matter out of the oil, or process with the heat method for additional extraction.


Plantain Salve

What Herbs Should I Use For My Infusion? 

Depending on your needs, many herbs, barks, and roots can be infused into oil. We always suggest using organic herbs, and until you master the technique, we recommend only working with dried herbs. Below are some of the most commonly used herbs:



Where Can I Purchase Herbs?

We grow or wild forage most of the herbs we use in our apothecary line, and you can purchase certain herbs from us, but when we need to purchase an herb, these are the suppliers we trust (these are not affiliate links, just the companies we trust.) Mountain Rose Herbs, Bulk Apothecary, Starwest Botanicals, Foraged Market


Happy Infusing! 

We hope that this article has given you the confidence to boldly make your own oil infusions! Tell us all about your projects, or ask any questions in the comments below. Until next time,



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3 Methods For Making Herb-Infused Oils

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