Our Epic Ambassador, PNW Ana, is a gardener and herbalist specializing in crafting herbal infusions. Recently, she demonstrated how to make a rosemary infusion oil and a rosemary balm from her garden on our Epic Gardening YouTube channel.
Rosemary is easy to grow and hard to kill. Rosemary-infused oil has plenty of benefits that aren’t relegated simply to the culinary realm. And making your own is quite simple!
Before we start, it’s worth noting that we are not medical professionals, and this is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult with a healthcare professional before using this oil if you have any concerns, and use it at your own risk.
A Brief History of Oil Infusions
Infused oils have been used for millennia for their therapeutic and medicinal properties.
Cultures worldwide have made and used infused oils for thousands of years. The first record of an infusion is from the Iranian polymath Ibn Sina (also known as Avicenna) in the 10th or 11th century. Infusions at the time were also made with water and honey.
When Ana was a child, her mother gave Ana and her sister scalp massages with infused oils. She also applied them to her face and skin. As Ana points out, the Sanskrit word for “to oil,” Sneha, is the same as “to love,” and it’s obvious these oils made her feel that way.
5 Steps to Making a Rosemary- Infused Oil
First things first! You have to harvest and dry your rosemary in preparation for the infusion. By clipping and drying your rosemary effectively, you’ll have even more herbs to practice making infusion oils down the line.
Proper Rosemary Harvesting and Drying
For optimal rosemary harvest, prune in spring or summer and air-dry.
While rosemary is fairly hardy and can deal with some heavy pruning, prune your harvest in a way that is best for the remaining plant. Rosemary is actively growing in spring and summer. This is the best time to harvest. You can also harvest at the end of the season.
Harvest in the morning after the dew has dried. This makes the drying process easier, preventing the buildup of fungi and bacteria that can dampen the quality of your oil or sour it. Grab a pair of sterilized pruning shears or snips, and take up to but no more than 20% of the plant for drying.
Wash your stems, taking care not to damage the leaves or bruise them as you do. Then, lay them on paper towels or cheesecloth and press gently with another to dry them. Transfer them to another dry cloth or towel.
Air-dry them for two to three weeks until they’re completely crisped. You can also bundle and dry your herbs. After dabbing them with a dry towel, tie them together with string or twine. Hang them upside down for two to three weeks until they’re crumbly.
Pick A Carrier Oil
For rosemary-infused oil, choose from skin-friendly options like olive, jojoba, or argan carrier oils.
Once you’ve dried your rosemary sprigs, it’s time to choose an oil to infuse. Ana generally stays away from coconut oil due to the proclivity for people to have sensitivities to it. Instead, opt for organic olive oil, jojoba, argan, sunflower, grapeseed, or sweet almond oils.
All of these are wonderful for skin and hair, and they’re commonly safe for faces. If you prefer one of these over others, go for that. Always source from a reliable outlet; if you’re unsure where to purchase your oils, Ana has a great resource listed on her social media.
If you want to be sure the oil is one you’re not allergic to, do an elbow test. Dab your finger into the oil and rub it on your inner elbow. If you notice irritation after some time, try a different oil and test again.
Fill an eight-ounce glass jar ¾ full with dried rosemary, add carrier oil, and let it infuse for four to six weeks.
Before you mash your herbs into oil, you should find a container to house them. Use an eight-ounce, sterilized glass jar with a lid. While a canning jar is just fine, a darker-colored glass protects the herbs from the brighter light they may be exposed to in the infusion process.
Fill the jar ¾ full with the dried rosemary sprigs, then add carrier oil and fill to just under the lid. Place the lid on top, close it tightly, and give it a good shake. Put the jar out of direct sunlight for four to six weeks, shaking it daily.
Strain the infused oil into a sterilized jar, and congratulations, you’ve made rosemary oil!
You’ll need one more sterilized jar of the same size to strain your oil into once the four to six weeks have passed. Grab one of those and strain the oil over cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve into the new jar. Then, cover it tightly once more.
Now, you’ve successfully made your own rosemary oil infusion. Look at you!
Using Your Rosemary Oil
Apply the versatile rosemary oil directly or mix it into other skincare products within three months.
Use your oil directly from the jar as an after-shower moisturizer, hair mask, oil cleanser, or serum. What’s great about this oil is you have so many options! You can also use it as an amazing addition to a lotion, salve, or balm.
Try to use your oil within three months. After this time, it won’t spoil, per se, but it will lose its potency. The oil can also go rancid, which typically occurs in about 18 to 24 months. If you open the oil and it has a scent similar to an adhesive, it’s rancid. Throw it out, then make more.
If you’ve been interested in using the herbs from your garden and you’ve exhausted your culinary options, an oil infusion is kind of a no-brainer. This is yet another way to enjoy the cosmetic and aromatic properties of this generous plant.
Make this your project over winter for an early spring delight.