1: Choosing the Perfect Oils for Your Herbal Infusions

1: Choosing the Perfect Oils for Your Herbal Infusions

Does this sound familiar?

You step into your home formulation lab (if you're like me... that's the kitchen 😉), all set to create your herbal oil, but then comes the dilemma:

"Which oil will be best for infusing this herb?"

I understand; the choices seem endless! (I've cataloged 180 in my research database! 😮) The struggle to decide can be quite real.

Rest assured, you're not alone. It's one of the most commonly asked questions in herbal oil making.

But, not to worry my friend, because I’m going to take you through the top 3 criteria I use to help me choose oils for infusing, so you can choose your oil with confidence.



Stability/Shelf Life

The #1, most important factor when choosing an oil is stability. When you're going to be putting your infused oils into your skincare products, you don't want to worry about them going off too soon.

The most stable oils/butters to use for infusing are those that are high in…

  • saturated fatty acids (Ex. Coconut, Mango, Shea)
  • monounsaturated fatty acids (Ex. Olive, Avocado, Macadamia Nut)

These oils and butters can hold up under low heat and are not prone to oxidizing quickly.




Next, it’s important to consider the financial aspect of your infused oil and the final product it will go into, so you can choose oils or butters that align with those considerations.

It takes a lot of oil to infuse herbs. With typical infusions using a 1:5 or 1:7 ratio, that’s 150g – 210g (5oz – 7oz) of oil for just 30g (1 oz) of plant material. If you opt for pricier oils, the extra expense can add up quickly.

Not to mention that no matter how diligently you try to squeeze out every drop, a portion of the oil inevitably ends up discarded along with the spent herbal material.

(I know, it makes me sad to think about that wasted oil too😢) 

But, that’s just the reality of making herbal oils. Believe me, it’s easier to accept having to toss a bit of almond oil out with your spent herbal material, than meadowfoam seed oil which is quite a bit more expensive.




Once you’ve narrowed down your options based on stability and cost, the next consideration is whether to use a refined or unrefined oil. Both have their pros and cons, when it comes to infusing herbs which we’ll discuss below. 
Pro: Often clear and unscented
Con: Fewer beneficial compounds than unrefined oils

Example: Fractionated Coconut Oil 

Pro: The majority of their beneficial compounds remain intact
Con: Can have strong color and/or scent

Example: Olive Oil (unrefined this oil is very green and has a strong scent) 
So, how do you decide?

The main concern when choosing between refined and unrefined oils is if you’re infusing for color or scent because the inherent characteristics of the oil will have a significant impact on your results.

If you're infusing the herb for...

Color: choose a clear or only lightly colored oil.
Scent: choose an oil with very little to no inherent scent.

This often means choosing a refined oil, but there are some oils which have very little color or scent in their unrefined versions.

Examples: almond, apricot, or meadowfoam

These oils typically don't interfere with extracting the color or scent from herbs and the beneficial properties of their unsaponifiable fraction are intact. 



So there you have it, the top 3 criteria I use to choose oils for my extractions. If you've found this list helpful, or if you have any questions, please comment below. I'd love to hear from you!

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