2: Mastering Herbal Oil Making: The Importance of Weights and Ratios

2: Mastering Herbal Oil Making: The Importance of Weights and Ratios

The first herbal oil I made was a Calendula infused Almond Oil. I had read multiple blog posts online which gave instructions on how to make herbal oils using the Folk Method. I followed the instructions to fill the jar (a 16oz jar) ¾ full and top off with oil. After waiting several weeks, I eagerly filtered the calendula flowers out of the oil. To my disappointment, there was very little scent and no color change. I was baffled. I’d followed the instructions exactly… why didn’t it work?


Perhaps you’ve experienced that same disappointment making herb infused oils. It’s so frustrating when every time you make an herbal oil, you’re worried about whether or not it’s going to turn out right.


In this blog post, we’re going to look at one change you can make in your process that will help you get more consistent results from one batch to the next.


But first, let’s look at why the folk method is so common.



The History of Making Herbal Oils

The practice of infusing herbs into oils is a part of herbalism that has been around for centuries. For generations, herbalism was practiced in the kitchen and passed down through families, just like cooking.  A younger family member would learn from following the example of an older family member (usually their mother or grandmother). They stuck the herbs in a vessel and covered them with oil, let it set for a period of time, and then strained it out.

Actually, the idea of weighing ingredients is a rather new method when looking at the long history of herbalism. So, for thousands of years, what is now referred to as the folk method, was the only method and it passed from one herbalist to the next.

There is nothing “wrong” with this method and many home herbalists still use this method today. When you’re making home remedies, consistency is not as big of a concern. However, when you’re making herbal oils to use as ingredients in skincare formulations, then consistency becomes much more important as a change in your oil, can affect your entire product.


Consistency with Weights and Ratios

Now, when you’re making natural skincare, there are going to be some inevitable changes from batch to batch. That’s because you’re using ingredients from nature and conditions in nature (ie growing conditions) are always changing. But inconsistencies can be minimized by controlling manufacturing processes.

For making herbal oils, this is where ratios come into play. Much the same way formulators use percentages in a formula to ensure consistency, using ratios results in consistency from one batch of herbal oil to the next. In fact, ratios can be converted to percentages. Check out the example below…


Example: Rose Infused Almond Oil

1:5 Ratio = 1 part herb and 5 parts oil


Now, say you are using 30g (about 1 oz) of rose petals, then…

1 part = 30g rose petals

5 parts (or 5 x 30) = 150g of almond oil


And if you want to convert it to percentages, then you take the total weight (all 6 parts added together) and divide each part by the total weight.

180g = total weight of ingredients in the jar


30g/180g = 0.17 or 17% rose petals

150g/180g = 0.83 or 83% almond oil

17% + 83% = 100% (total of all ingredients in the jar)


So just like in formulation, we can increase consistency from batch to batch by using the same weight and ratios.


Scaling up with Weights and Ratios

As we discussed at the beginning of this blog post, the folk method involves eyeballing measurements. Not only does this lead to inconsistencies from batch to batch, it also leads to variations in potency when scaling up production.


For instance, if you want to triple the amount of oil you're making, simply using a larger container often dilutes the potency of compounds in your herbal oil because the ratio of herbs to oil is not maintained. But when you’re using ratios, you will scale up without changing the ratio of all. I’ve included another example below…


Instead of 30g being 1 part, to triple production, we would use 90g as 1 part.

1 part = 90g

5 parts (5 x 90g) = 450g


As you can see, the ratio of herb to oil stays the same (1:5) because you're increasing both the amount of herbs and the amount of oil by weight. This ensures that the compounds you're extracting maintain their potency instead of being diluted, which also carries over into each skincare product you make with that herbal oil, providing consistent benefits to your users.



So to wrap it all, there’s nothing wrong with using the folk method to make herbal oils for home remedies, but for skincare formulators using weights and ratios is a must. This single shift in approach can elevate the quality and efficacy of your herbal oils and minimize variations from batch to batch, leading to more reliable results in your skincare formulations.

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