One of my favourite herbal concoctions to make is a herbal infused oil. A herbal infused oil is a base oil such as olive oil or maybe sweet almond oil which has been permeated with the qualities and scent of herbs. These herbal oils can also have essential oils added in, although they are effective without them too. I use herbal oils to massage my body with, often before a shower or bath, in the practice of abhyanga. This Ayurvedic method not only is very nourishing to the skin, but it is also soothing to the entire body and calming to the nervous system.
Summer is the perfect time to make infused herbal oils for the body. There’s a multitude of fresh herbs at this time of year that can be dried and used to make remarkably high-quality oils that are far superior to anything you could purchase. They usually take about 4 weeks to make but the whole process can be sped up if necessary.
I like to make my herbal infused oils using seasonal herbs and also taking the qualities of the current season into question. So for example in summer I would look for a more cooling but still nourishing oil for the whole body so I like to work with herbs such as lemon balm, mint and elderflower. These are all cooling to the body so perfect for a bedtime massage.
To make a beautiful summer body oil you will need a jar, some good quality cold pressed oil-I like jojoba oil, and some dried herbs which are finally chopped up. For a stronger infusion you can also add in a splash of vodka to further help the plants infuse into the oil. To start fill the jar 1/2 full with the dried herbs, then pour the oil over until all the herbs are covered, give a quick stir if needed. If you are using vodka add a splash now. Cover with a lid, add a label and let sit somewhere slightly warm for about 4 weeks.
If you want to get the finished product sooner then once your herbs are combined put them into a high speed blender. Blitz them for at least 5 minutes. Then warm the oil and the herbs together in a bain-marie for a few hours (just make sure not even a speck of water gets into the oil) or you could place your sealed jar into a dehydrator set at 40C. The warm oil helps the compounds from the herbs extract more quickly.
Once the infusion time is complete, simply strain out the herbs using a muslin cloth and store the finished oil in a clean dry labelled jar. The oil should last at least a year.
Image by Kim Lightbody from my book The Garden Apothecary published by Hardie Grant. Click here to get your copy.