That said, infusing the calendula in a saucepan requires extremely low heat and a delicate hand... otherwise you end up with a stinky singed herb smelling body butter (which I suffered through for the last batch I made).
There's another way to infuse oils with herbs, it just takes a bit more planning in advance. Which I don't typically like to do, but my friend H. and I will be making a batch of cocoa/coconut body butter in a few weeks, so she stopped by today with a fresh batch of dried calendula petals and a promise that she would be infusing her oil in preparation. I can't be lazy and punk out now.
Infusing oils is all the rage in the eco-sphere, I am SO behind on this easy way to add some pizazz to my oils. It's just such a pain to research all the different herbs and what they're good for on the internet. I've just never had THAT much of an interest to go digging.
(The awesome chart with herbs and skin matches. Descriptions of their helpfulness are also included throughout the book)
Infusing oil is a super easy way to customize your facial or body butters to suit your specific skin needs.
(My herbs all ready to go!)
For cold infusion always use dried herbs. Honestly, you'll be placing these pretties in a jar for a few weeks on end. Fresh herbs have water which breeds bacteria. Bacteria like to grow in oil too, so you really don't want to be slathering bacteria laden oil on your face or body. You could always add some preservative (like vitamin e oil, or vodka...) but if you have fresh herbs think about drying them or infusing them using heat, just make sure you store your oil in the fridge and be conscious of it's shelf life.
For more info on how to DIY with water based products, check out Crunchy Betty's excellent post on the topic.
Also, this blog post on Lovin Soap Blog on how to colour soap naturally with infused herbs is amazing! I especially am interested in the slow cooker method.
Ok, now on to it!
Sterilize your infusion jar for 10 minutes in boiling water. This is important, the oil and herbs are going to be sitting for two to three weeks. If anything is already in there you don't want it growing up to be a nasty on your face.
(Sterilizing equipment is not only easy, it's safest)
In dried and cooled jar, plunk in about two-three tablespoons of your herb(s) of choice. Today I chose Calendula and chamomile for their healing and soothing skin properties and licorice bark for it's anti-microbial properties (seriously, yoga+running+sunscreen+sweat= skin blemishes popping up not just on my face).
In Halifax it's very easy to find dried herbs: Planet Organic has a nice little apothecary type wall filled with jars of extremely affordable dried herbs. You could also find some at the market (there's a local lavender farm that sells products at the Seaport Farmer's Market for example).
Add enough oil to cover the dried herbs. Your oil of choice should be influenced by what you want to use the oil for. Olive oil and jojoba oil have a long shelf life, so they're great choices. I chose Sweet Almond Oil because I'm out of jojoba, and it will be gentle on my skin (and I have a bunch left).
Leave in the jar in a cool dark place for about two weeks. Shake once a day.
Strain out of the jar using a mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Tahdah! You have a just for you customized oil to add to your body/lip butters, bath melts or face oils!
article and photographs copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com