Oils are simple to make and can be used on their own or made into salves. For fresh herb infusions, use 1 part fresh plant by weight to 3 parts oil by volume. For dried herb infusions, use 1 part dry plant by weight to five parts oil by volume. Lightly pack chopped herbs into a glass jar. Cover the herbs with olive oil, taking care that all plant parts are immersed in oil. It’s ok to add more oil if you need to. Exposed material may start to mold so be sure it’s completely covered. Steep the herbs in oil for at least 4 – 5 weeks before straining. Also, leaving your oil in the sun for a short period of time will help to pull constituents out of the plant. Strain with cheesecloth and wring out all the oil from the cloth.
When herbal oil grows mold, it is often because there is too much moisture present in the herb or in the jar. Try using dry herbs or wilting fresh herbs for a few days before you make oil.
Salves are made of beeswax, herbs and oil. The oil is a solvent for the medicinal properties of the herb while the beeswax provides necessary firmness, doesn’t clog pores and is nourishing. To make a salve, put one cup of your herbal-infused oil into a pot and add 1/4 cup of beeswax. Heat gently over a double boiler until the beeswax is completely melted. To test for doneness, put a teaspoon of the mixture in the freezer for a minute. If it’s too soft, add more beeswax; too hard, add more oil. Remove from heat and pour into small glass jars. Store in a cool, dark place. Salves may last for months and possibly years.
Salves are great for external healing for healthy skin and tissues. Consider making several different oils and combining them for a multi-purpose salve. You can experiment with adding shea or cocoa butter. Herbs to try making oils and salves out of it include: calendula (best dry), sage, yarrow, comfrey, st. john’s wort, nettle, lavender, chamomile, mint, mullein, witch hazel and plantain.