Wondering how to create an oil infusion for natural soap?
Is it really just a matter of popping some herbs into a jar with oils? Kind of… here’s a quick primer on oil infusions along with a video walk- through of the process, including oodles of tips & tricks including how to strain and store oil infusions for use in botanical soaps and salves.
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The terminology: infusions vs. macerations.
- When herbs are in the jar along with oils, your concoction is called a maceration.
- An infusion is a specific type of maceration, in this case, and oil infusion.
- Once you strain the herbs out, a maceration is called an infusion.
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The basic steps to an oil infusion:
Essentially, creating an infusion consists of putting herbs into oil so the oil and extract the goodness from the plant material. Once you know how much plant material to use in the oils, and how to nudge the maceration process along, you can use infusions to create amazing colors in your soaps, impart herbal benefits to salves, or even make a fantastic salad dressing!
- Place dry botanicals in a clean and sterile jar.
- Cover herbs with oil.
- Infuse for 4 hours to 6 weeks.
Those are just the basic steps. Watch the video below for a live example and more details 😊
Looking for more guidance along with formulations and color tips for coloring your handmade soap with oil infusions? Be sure to check out the Extracting Color from Nature Master Class Series.
In the following video, I’ll walk you through the basics of creating an oil infusion with a focus on the following tips and pointers:
- You can use fresh or dry herbs, but with fresh the infusion will not be shelf stable. It must be used right away, and only for soap.
- You can use ground herbs or pieces. If ground, you need visually less than if whole – ground is simply more compact.
- I also like ground herbs because of the surface exposure. But be wary of too fine of a gind as it can be difficult to strain the oils.
- When filling your jar with oil, be sure to leave room (headspace) for swelling of your botanicals as they absorb the oil.
- You also need to keep the fully botanical submerged in the oil. With ground plant matter, this is easier to do. With whole pieces some can stick up above the oil, exposing them to air where they can develop mold.
- When making an infusion, you can macerate with time or heat (electric or solar)
- The shelf-life of your infusion is equal to the shelf-life of the oils used in the maceration.
- You can store your creation as a maceration and strain off the infusion as needed (that’s typically what I do when creating infusions for colors).
- Or you can strain the maceration, and store just the infusion while discarding the macerate (which I typically do when creating infusions for salves or salad dressing).