Essential oils can be a very useful addition to many every day activities. They can be used to enhance baths or dreams, and can also be used to create just the right environment for any given situation. Learning how to make your own essential oils can be very rewarding. First, a couple basic notes should be made about these powerful oils.
Remember that essential oils are concentrated and should be used in small doses. A drop or two will do the trick in most situations. Using too much essential oil in a bath can cause skin irritation and headaches.
Also as you set out to make your own oils bear in mind that you are not only capturing the essence and scent of herbs in the oil, but the spiritual qualities of them as well. Take some time beforehand to focus on the qualities of the herbs you are trying to capture and bring out.
Picking your Supplies
Essential oils can be made from almost anything organic, even fruit. If you do decide to use fruits, dried peels will work better than the actual fruit itself. The easiest thing to make oils out of however, is dried herbs. Use an herb guide to help you pick out herbs that have the right qualities for your oil. If you are using flowers, fruits, or fresh picked herbs you will need to let them dry thoroughly first. About a cup of herbs is a good amount to start with. Unless you have a reason to do otherwise, use equal quantities of all the herbs you plan to use.
Now that you have your herbs picked out you will also need a good amount of oil. You can use good old cooking oil such as vegetable oil or canola oil, but if you are looking to get the best quality out of your ingredients I recommend something a bit fancier, such as almond oil or rose oil. You can find these by the bottle at most health food stores.
Before you start brewing your oil make sure you also have a good fine filter. If you find you are lacking one fine enough to filter out small bits of herb, grab yourself a roll of paper towels, but be prepared to wait quite a while for each filter of the oil.
You will also need a bottle to hold your completed oil and a dropper to measure the oil out for use.
Brewing the Oil
Now that you have all of your ingredients it’s time for the fun part! Put about a cup or two of oil in a small, clean pan and set the heat to low. Be sure not to turn the heat up too far, because the oil will burn the herbs and ruin the entire batch. While the oil is warming take out your herbs and cut or grind them. You want them in small enough pieces to work with easily, but not so small that they can’t be filtered out later. Once the oil is warm slowly stir in your cup of herbs. Keep the heat on low while you let your herbs seep, stirring occasionally. The oil may or may not change colors as the essence is released into the oil. You will know your oil is almost ready when it starts to emit a warm scent. Do not breathe in the fumes of the oil directly, but waft them towards yourself to test. Some people like to say a gentle incantation of their choosing at this point. Once you get a good strong smell coming from your oil, wait a few more minutes then remove it from the heat.
Even cooked on low, oil gets very hot very fast. Be sure to watch your herbs while cooking to make sure they do not start to burn. The herbs themselves should not change color much. Once you have removed the oil from heat, give it a while to cool before filtering or distributing it into its container. Once you are sure the oil has cooled enough to handle it is time to filter the oil.
Filtering the Oil
It is important to be thorough in your filtering process. Sometimes it takes quite a few tries to get all of the herbs and plant material out of your oil so be patient. If you are filtering through paper towels, this could mean a loss in oil, but never fear, one or two cups of essential oil is a lot. If you do not succeed to removing all plant mater from your oil, the plant left will rot in a short time and cause the whole batch to go bad. It can be helpful to start with a larger filter, and then switch to a smaller strainer after a couple of runs through. Once you are satisfied that you’ve removed all the plant bits from the oil you are ready to distribute it into containers.
Distributing the Oil
I do not recommend you use plastic containers for oil. Even though your oil should be cooled before being poured into containers, there is still a risk of melting your container and spilling the oil. Also, plastic containers are more prone to leak. Remember, just because something is water tight does not mean it is oil tight. The best containers to use are glass bottles and droppers. If you plan to give some of your oil away to friends, or even sell it at a craft fair it may be worth it to invest in some small glass droppers to hold your oil. If you are keeping the oil for personal use, a large glass bottle will do nicely, but I still recommend you stow a dropper with it for measuring purposes. Essential Oil is only used one or two small drops at a time.
There are a number of uses for essential oil that you can now try out. Use your discretion on which you’d like to try based on what type of oil you have made. Oils can be added a drop at a time to bath water, and also added to lotion or body wash. You can place a couple drops on your pillow to influence your dreams, or simply burn it in an essential oil burner. Before using your oil, however, please note that the herbs you choose to use can limit your options. The same warnings that are applied to the herbs should be applied to the essential oil. If the herb is poisonous to the touch do not put it in lotion. If it is not recommended for pregnant women, keep it away from children. Be sure you know the qualities of the herbs you used so that you can safely use your essential oil.