Using Herbs: Herbal Infused Oils and Liniments

Using Herbs: Herbal Infused Oils and Liniments | Growing Up Herbal | Herbal infused oils and liniments are two easy to make preparations that have lots of great uses!

What do lotions, salves, and massages have in common? What can you use on a pulled muscle that will not only relax it, but penetrate deep down into the tissues to bring healing to that area?

Herbal infused oils and liniments… that’s what!

These two herbal preparations are very similar, and today we’ll be talking about what infused oils and liniments are, how you can use them, and of course, how to make them yourself at home.

Herbal Infused Oils

Herbal infused oils are one of the most basic herbal preparations there are, and they serve as a base for many therapeutic and skincare products you can make at home or find on store shelves.

When it comes to making herbal infused oils the possibilities are endless! There are countless combinations of herbs you can use as well as a wide range of oils that can be blended together.

Infused oils have many different uses. They can be used on their own to nourish the skin, as a lubricant for a massage, or to promote healing on wounds. They can also be used to lightly sauté foods, replace plain vegetable oil in a recipe, or blended with vinegar to make homemade salad dressings.

Infused oils can also be used as a base in herbal salves, creams, lotions, hair products like shampoos and conditioners, and more.

As you can see, there are many uses for herbal oils, but how do you actually infuse herbs into oils?

Well, the process that I’m gonna share with you today is the quick version of infusing herbs into oils, but there are actually several different methods. They all work great, but everyone has their preference. Personally, I infuse my oils differently depending upon what I’m using them for. If you wanna know more about how to make and use herbal infused oils checkout my e-book Making Herbal Infused Oils: The Ultimate How To Guide. It’s a quick read that will tell you all about the different methods and you get 5 exclusive infused oil recipes that I formulated myself to try out. You’ll love them!

How To Make Herbal Infused Oils (In Less Than An Hour)

  1. Find two saucepans, one larger than the other so that the smaller one sits just inside the larger one.
  2. Fill the larger pan with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil on the stove.
  3. In the smaller saucepan, place 1 part herb to 2-3 parts oil in the pan.
  4. Once water is boiling in the large saucepan, place the smaller pan (the one with the herbs and oil) inside. Let this sit for 30-60 minutes. Keep an eye on it making sure the water doesn’t evaporate out of the large pan on the bottom (if it starts to get low, add some more) and that your oil in the top pan doesn’t start to boil or smoke.
  5. When time is up, place a paper towel inside a stainless steel strainer over a bowl. Pour the warm oil and herbs into the paper towel. The towel and strainer will catch the herbs and the warm oil will filter through leaving you with an herbal infused oil in your bowel.
  6. Bottle, label, and store.

Note About Herb-Oil Ratios

The amount of herbs to oil doesn’t have to be precise and will vary based on how you’re planning on using the oil and the herbs being infused. The more herbs to oil, the stronger your infusion will be. The more oil to herbs the weaker your infusion will be.

For example, if you’re infusing garlic into olive oil for a yummy cooking oil, chances are you’ll use more oil to garlic since garlic is strong, but if you’re infusing rose petals into almond oil to make a lovely face cream you’ll probably want to use more rose to oil so the infusion is stronger. Make sense?

The amount of herbs to oil will also vary based on how dense your herbs are. Another example is with comfrey oil and arnica oil. Comfrey is a leaf, and it’s more dense than arnica (fluffy flowers) is. It would take more oil to cover the fluffy arnica than it would to cover the comfrey leaves so you’d have to adjust your oil amounts depending on the herb used.

Herbal Liniments

Now what about herbal liniments?

An herbal liniment is made very much like an herbal tincture (which we’ll be talking about soon) except that it’s made using rubbing alcohol instead of liquor, and liniments are for external use only. Let me say that again. Liniments are not to be consumed internally. DON’T DRINK THEM!!!

Herbal liniments are most commonly used for disinfecting things or using to penetrate deep down into the tissues to decrease pain and inflammation and bring healing to an area. They are excellent herbal preparations for first aid kits and medicine cabinets.

An example of a disinfecting liniment is Dr. Kloss’s Disinfecting Liniment (found in his book Back To Eden) which is great for boils or abscesses, acne, ingrown toenails, or cleansing the skin using as a mouth wash. Simply wash the infected or sore area hourly with the liniment to help reduce pain, redness, and swelling.

Examples of using liniments for decreasing pain, inflammation, and promoting healing would be when using them on pulled muscles, sprained ankles, or headaches. Pour a small amount of liniment on a clean cotton ball and rub over the affected area every 1-2 hours until relief if felt.

Below are the steps to making an herbal liniment. Try to keep up won’t you… it’s so complicated. Just joking!!

How To Make An Herbal Liniment

  1. Fill clean glass jar 1/3 full of herbs.
  2. Pour rubbing alcohol (70%) over herbs filling jar up 1 inch from the top.
  3. Cap and let sit for 7 days shaking once each day.
  4. After 7 days strain herbs from alcohol. Bottle, label, and store.

So that’s it for today. So far in this series you’ve learned how to make herbal teas, infusions, decoctions, washes, compresses, fomentations, poultices, powders, electuaries, oils, and liniments. You’re on your way to becoming an herbalist mama! Go you!

If you have any questions about the info in today’s post or if something is unclear, ask away in the comment section below so I can clarify things for you! There’s no harm in asking questions my friend. If you’ve got all this info down, be sure to pin this post to your Herbal How To boards on Pinterest to keep track of all this information!

Click here to get back to the “How To Start Using Herbs” series intro.

16 thoughts on “Using Herbs: Herbal Infused Oils and Liniments”

  1. Love your knowledge and so glad you share it. I’m an advocate on doing everything you can yourself. You have helped me understand a lot more than I did. Thank you.
    Sincerely, Carla Lucart

  2. Thank you so much Meagan for this article. My hubby has issues with his back. I’ve tried salves and diluted essential oils, but nothing seems to help a whole lot. I didn’t know about liniments, and I am now wondering if that may help to get deep into the tissues and help better. Maybe we will just have to try…

  3. When infusing with oil should the herb petal flower be dried before infusing? If not when do you know wich ones should be dried prior to oil infusing.
    I tried infusing fresh orange blossoms and failed i believe due to the moisture in the blossoms.I used fresh lemon zest to infuse in olive oil and it worked great.

    1. I’ve not had much experience infusing fresh herbs into oils, but from what I’ve heard, its best to used dried due to the water content of the fresh plants. My guess is that lemon zest doesn’t have a lot of water, but instead a lot of oils so that’s probably why it did better. I have heard that if you want to infuse fresh plant material, its better to let it wilt first to help reduce the moisture in it. You could always try it again with wilted orange blossoms and see if that works. Either that or dry them before infusing. Hope that helps!

  4. Hi, I was wondering if I could use this herbal infused oil technique to infuse fresh jewelweed into coconut oil and then whip it to make a anti itch lotion? I wasn’t sure if making it with fresh plants would effect how it works and how it keeps-maybe refrigerate?

    1. I’m glad you found the article helpful, Carla. What do you mean by adding onion juice? You wouldn’t add onion juice to an oil or liniment, but people have used onion juice for various issues in the past.

  5. Thank you so much for your friendly and helpful posts! I am curious- what should I do with a bunch of infused oils that I made over a year ago and haven’t been able to use? Can I compost them or do I have to (cringe) throw them away? Thanks!

    1. If you’ve stored them properly, they don’t smell bad, and they don’t have anything floating or growing in them, I wouldn’t throw them away. I’d use them as body or bath oils to use them up quickly and benefit your skin in the process. If you make homemade soaps, you can use them in those as well.

  6. I have been using a sous vide to make my oils. I keep it at 100 degrees for one day for each week that I would leave it in the traditional manner. If you have any information on judging the strength using this method I would appreciate it

    1. Hey, Kelley. I’m not familiar with that method, so I’m not sure how effective the infused oils would be. I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help. Maybe someone else who has experience using this method can chime in at some point.

  7. Does allowing an herbal liniment sit for more than 7 days increase its strength? Would it go bad if it sat longer? How do you know when you’ve gotten all of the medicine out of the plant?

    1. You can let a liniment sit for more than 7 days. Most herbalists agree that letting something infuse for 6-weeks will give you a strong, effective preparation. Any longer doesn’t really help. No, it will not go bad if it sits longer, but the herbs will break down more leaving a lot of sediment in your final liquid. You can filter the sediment out through an unbleached coffee filter though. Hope this helps!

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