Recipe: Homemade Herbal Oil

An easy alternative to pure essential oils!

This last month, I’ve spent more time messing around in my kitchen than I have in a long while. Whether I was baking batch after batch of chocolatey brownies for my niece and nephew ( and myself of course), whipping up a hair treatment, or brewing scented oils, the moments I dedicated to these little forms of creation were chances to decompress from a stressful day at work and sink back into myself. Ironically, I’ve never been very comfortable on my own in a kitchen, and in the past, I wouldn’t have called myself a good cook. I’d glance at my mother’s spice rack and be overwhelmed by the wall of herbs, salts, and powders. I’d open the pantry and read the labels on what we had stored there as if they were in another language. I had no idea what went with what, no understanding of how to take raw ingredients and produce something (hopefully) edible. I was just as likely to make something delicious as I was to give someone a case of intense, explosive diarrhea. It only got worse after I went to college and spent four years being pampered (and sometimes poisoned) by my school’s cafeteria. When I came home after the end of my senior year, I lived off of cereal and overnight oats for longer than I’m willing to admit.  All that aside, I gotta eat, so in this past year in between my undergrad graduation and my first semester of graduate study, I’ve learned to operate in a kitchen out of necessity. Since then, it’s been smooth sailing.

I find that my favorite recipes aren’t even the ones meant to be consumed. When I step into my kitchen, what I love doing the most is making one of my DIY beauty products, and my all time favorite thing to make is scented oil. I stumbled upon a relatively quick and easy guide to making these oils when I was in the process of experimenting with different homemade hair products and decided that I wanted to find a way to make use of all the herbs I had piled up. I had heard of rose oil before and had a pretty nice stock of rose petals and olive oil, so I turned to Google for guidance. The first few links I found took me to webpages on how to make essential oils, which seemed to be a long and arduous process, and though the sites did pique my interest with a mention of 120 proof vodka, I decided to look elsewhere. A few links later, I came across a post and then a video on how to make herbal oils.oilyyy.jpg

The first oil I made was lemon and peppermint scented. My sister needed it to beat back the horde of gnats that had commandeered her kitchen. My second basil scented oil went to her as well, but my third lavender-scented oil was all mine. Since then I’ve made a rose oil, a camomile oil, and I’ve purchased the ingredients to make sage oil next!

What I love about this method is that it is an easy, affordable, customizable, and quick alternative to making an essential oil. You control how strong or soft the smell is either by lessening the amount of herb used or by adjusting how long the oil simmers on the stove. I made my lavender oil intentionally strong because I like to use it in my hair and want the scent to carry for a while. The oil needs to simmer for hours, so it is the perfect thing to throw on the stove or in the ol’ crockpot and forget about. The only downside to the process is that separating the oil from the used herb matter can get very messy and is best done outside or over the kitchen sink. But don’t let that deter you! The product is totally worth the trouble. You can splash it in oil warmers for a bit of aromatherapy, use it in your hair or in a future hair treatment, massage it into your skin, or mix it into homemade lotions and body butters and scrubs for a little bit of DIY self-love.

I could sing the praises of these simple homemade oils for ages, but I feel like I should just get on with the guide, so without further ado… The recipe!

oil stuff

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 ounce of chosen herb
  • Enough oil to cover the herb in a mason jar and rise about an inch about the surface of the herbs
    • I prefer olive, but coconut oil, safflower oil, and grapeseed oil work great as well. I haven’t experimented with sunflower oil, but I imagine it would work just fine. If the oil is solid at room temperature, like coconut oil, melt it beforehand. When it cools, it should revert back to solid form. These are best used in body butters, but can still be use by themselves or in sugar scrubs.
  • A mason jar
  • A large pot (or crockpot) filled high enough to come up to an inch under the mason jar’s lip
  • A small container to transfer the oil to when it is ready
  • Cheesecloth
  • A food thermometer
  • Patience


Steps To Take:

    1. Combine the herb and oil in the mason jar. Stir until the two are well-mixed and there are no visible air bubbles in the jar. (Remember, you want the oil to rise to just over the surface of the herb which means your herb needs to be able to fit into the mason jar with at least an inch and a half between the surface of the oil and the lip of the jar. If you are using something large and chunky like dried rose buds, try grinding the flowers up before hand to pack more in.)

    2. Place the jar in the large pot and fill the pot with water until it is just under the lip of the jar.

    3. Turn the heat on the stove to its lowest setting. Allow to simmer for 4-8 hours periodically checking to make sure the temperature doesn’t exceed 120°F. Once the oil has reached your desired strength, remove from heat and begin draining. I like to strain the oil through the cheesecloth first, then to fill a little cheesecloth pouch with the leftover herb and squeeze what I can from the pouch as well. This is where things get messy, so take care. 

    4. Transfer oil into a clear or dark-colored bottle and then store somewhere cool and dry.

Thanks For Stopping In!


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