Differences Between Making Herbal Infusions, Essential Oils, and Herbal Oils

You have probably seen, like I have, many online recipes, video’s and articles for making your own essential oils simply by putting the plant material into a mason jar and then topping it off with olive oil (or another menstrum) and letting it sit for awhile.

They say that this is “how you can make your own essential oils” and/or blends of essential oils.

That is not true and anyone who informs you that it how to make your own essential oils at home does not have a clue as to what they’re talking about.

So what are these video’s and articles talking about when they show you the essential oil that you can make at home in a Mason Jar?

They are showing you how an ‘herbal oil’ is made.

Herbal oils are vastly different than an essential oil and very different than an herbal infusion. It is NOT an easy and cheap way to ‘make your own essential oils.’

There is absolutely a place in the home apothecary, kitchen, and herbal remedy cabinet, for herbal infusions and herbal oils, but one should not expect to be able to make, use and obtain the same results as you would get by using a pure therapeutic essential oil. The reason why you will not get the same results is because essential oils have different natural plant properties to them. So to think you would be making yourself an essential oil in a mason jar would be like saying you are extracting blood from a stone, it cannot be done.

While the concoction in the mason jar recipes and techniques smell nice you are guaranteed to have a finished product that is extremely weak in essential oil content compared to one drop of a pure, genuine, therapeutic essential oil.

The Differences Between Herbal Infusions, Herbal Oils & Essential Oils

Herbal Infusions

I think of herbal infusions as being a healthy beverage which is used for maintaining good health and nourishment, and to assist when one has been feeling worn-down or generally crappy due to not making healthier choices in regards to food and beverages, or when you have come down with a cold or flu and your body is starving for nourishment. Herbal infusions are, I believe, an excellent way to prevent your body from getting into a state of nourishment starvation and keep the immune system working strong.

Herbal Infusions are made with herbal plant material and water and they sit for a while to brew.

I like the way my mentor Susun Weed describes the making of an herbal infusion

“An infusion is a large amount of herb brewed for a long time. Typically, one ounce by weight (about a cup by volume) of dried herb is placed in a quart jar which is then filled to the top with boiling water, tightly lidded and allowed to steep for 4-10 hours. After straining, a cup or more is consumed, and the remainder chilled to slow spoilage. Drinking 2-4 cups a day is usual. Since the minerals and other phytochemicals in nourishing herbs are made more accessible by drying, dried herbs are considered best for infusions.”

Herbal infusions are made when you combine herb plant material and a menstrum and allow it to sit overnight to eight weeks, shaking the jar daily.

A menstrum is a solvent used in extracting compounds from plant material.

A menstrum for making herbal tinctures would be a grain alcohol or vegetable glycerin.

Herbal infusions perform a different function, have different benefits, and are used differently, than essential oils.

If you do not have a herb garden or another source for high quality herbs to make your herbal infusions or herbal oils, if not I recommend Starwest Botanicals

Herbal Oils

These are the DIY recipes we have seen on the internet saying this is how to make your own essential oils. The authors tell us that we are making an essential oil – this is completely wrong information and this method is no more making an essential oil from the ingredients than it is making a birthday cake. It’s just wrong information. Calendula-Oil-Jar

Herbal oils are primarily used as flavored cooking oils and they are also used in making salves, an example is making Calendula oil for a healing salve recipe.

Herbal oils are not, nor will they ever be, an essential oil and one should not expect to get the same results from an herbal oil as you would if you used a genuine therapeutic essential oil.

Like herbal infusions, there is a place for herbal oils in the kitchen and for remedies calling for salve, cream, or lotion, making concoctions.

Herbal oils are used differently than herbal infusions and essential oils. Herbal oils absolutely fill a place in our lives, they however do not substitute for an herbal infusion or an essential oil.

If you do not have the time, desire or herbs to make your own herbal oils I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs they are a fantastic source of Herbal Oils, they have these organic herbal oils: Arnica Herbal Oil, Calendula Herbal Oil, Comfrey Herbal Oil, Injur Heal Herbal Oil, Mullein Herbal Oil, Plantain Herbal Oil, Poke Root Herbal Oil, Rosemary Herbal Oil, and St. John’s Wort Herbal Oil.

Essential Oils

An essential oil is never-ever ‘made’ in a mason jar with water or olive oil.

Essential oils are either distilled, or cold-pressed, from the live herb plant material.

Making an essential oil requires a distiller and a person operating every aspect of the distillation process from the day, time of day, to when the plant material goes into the distiller to what kind of pressure from the steam must be applied to ensure it is just right for each individual species of herb. In other words, distilling an essential oil that contains all of its constituents and compounds is an art, and requires years of study and experience to perfect. The resulting finished product, essential oil, has different properties than an herbal infusion and a herbal oil.

Each of these three methods of working with the herbs produces very different natural products to utilize in different ways.

For instance…

You are NOT ever going to drink a cup of essential oil a day to maintain a healthy immune system – you would never do that because essential oils are so potent that it would kill you.

But, when you make an herbal infusion, you want to drink a cup or so a day to make you feel healthier and maintain health – it won’t kill you.

The herbal oil you will use either for cooking purposes or as an ingredient when making salves – ingesting an herbal oil in cooking recipes and using it in salves will not kill you either.

So why would drinking a large amount of essential oil kill you whereas an herbal infusion or herbal oil won’t?

Because essential oils have different compounds than herbal infusions and herbal oils.

Plus, essential oils are nothing but essential oils and they are extremely potent.

Look at it this way, it takes several hundred pounds of fresh Melissa plant material to make one pound of Melissa essential oil.

How much essential oil do you think is going to be in one mason jar filled with olive oil or water with the herb of your choice?

A nano fraction of one drop of an essential oil would be the correct answer.

An essential oil is never made, nor can it be made, by plant material sitting in a vessel of olive oil or water.

How Do I Know Which To Use and for What?

This is slightly over-simplifying it but I think of it in this way…

Herbal Infusions are used to promote and sustain nourishment in the body systems.

Herbal oils are used for cooking and for making salves, creams and lotions.

Genuine therapeutic essential oils are used for aromatherapy, diffusing, natural perfume recipes, household cleaning recipes, home remedies, and where something with more potency and faster results are needed – do keep in mind you use essential oils by the drop, never in larger amounts.

The Differences Between: An Herbal Infusion, an Herbal Oil, and, an Essential Oil | Sacred Habitats

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