A few years ago I planted lavender and rosemary along the steep terraces of our garden in Umbria and (surprise) the plants grew!
With all that lavender and rosemary spilling over the hillside, I decided to try my hand at infusing oils for aromatherapy – specifically skin moisturizers and massage oils. Infused oils, unlike essential oils, can be applied directly to the skin. (Pure essential oils are often too harsh, and must be first combined with a ‘carrier’, such as olive oil or almond oil.)
I quickly discovered that infusing oils is very simple and oh-so-fun! After trying a couple of different methods, here is the one that works best for me.
Ingredients and Supplies for Infusing Aromatherapy Oil:
- Fresh plant matter, such as lavender blossoms, rosemary, mint leaves, etc.
- Glass canning jars with lids (I prefer the smaller, jelly type jars)
- Organic olive oil or almond oil
- Small glass storage jars (preferably dark glass)
- Small sieve
- Cheese cloth
Steps for Infusing Aromatherapy Oil:
- Fill a small, glass canning jar with fresh plant matter, such as lavender blossoms, rosemary, mint leaves, etc. (Be sure the plant matter is dry – do not rinse with water.)
- Add just enough organic olive oil or almond oil to cover the plant matter, and cover the jar with a lid.
- Place the jar in a shady location, inside or outside, for 48 hours. Do not place in direct sun, as this can overheat the contents and cause the plant matter to rot and/or the oil to go rancid. (It’s yucky, trust me.)
- After 48 hours, fill a second glass jar with fresh plant matter.
- Place the sieve, covered with cheese cloth, over the top of a second jar. Pour the infused oil through the sieve, pressing with a spoon to extract as much oil as possible from the plant matter. Discard the used petals or leaves.
- Cover the jar with the fresh plant material and place in a shady areas for another 48 hours.
- Repeat the infusion process until the aroma of the oil has intensified. I prefer at least 3 infusions.
- After the final infusion, strain the oil into a glass storage jar. Dark colored glass works best because it protects the oil from light. If you use clear glass, be sure to store the jars in a dark area.
Infused oils can be used in a variety of ways (creams, lotions, soaps, etc.) although I personally prefer to use them ‘as is’. Here are a few of my favorite ways:
- Lavender oil just before bed for relaxation and deep sleep (especially nice on dry feet and hands)
- Lemon balm oil for alleviating stress or anxiety (doubly effective with a cup of tea and a few deep breaths)
- Rosemary oil for inflamed or irritated skin, or for sore feet (soak feet first in warm water, then rub with Rosemary oil …. ahhhhhh)
- Spearmint oil as a pick-me-up (lovely!)
- Practically any infused oil as an after-shower, aromatic skin treatment (apply while your skin is still damp for a less oily feeling.)
If stored properly, the shelf life of an infused oil is 6-8 months.
Pamela Haack is the founder of Off the Beaten Strada, where she creates and hosts small group tours that are a combination of the very best of Italy: the exciting and the peaceful, the popular and the secret, the talked about and the never-heard-of-before. From art experts and operettas to authentic cooking classes and ancient Etruscans, Pamela helps visitors experience the spectacularly beautiful, endlessly interesting cities and countryside of Italy in an up-close and personal way.
She is also the author of Top 10 Favorite Etruscan Sites, as well as her popular blog, Off the Beaten Strada in Italy.
Pamela lives with her husband, Lou, in Umbria, Italy.