- Alternative & Natural Medicine
What Are Infused Oils?
Introduction to Infused Oils
When you hear the term 'infused oils', it must not be confused with regular essential oils since these two are completely different from one another. It is basically a carrier oil that is 'infused' in one or more herbs to allow the carrier oil to absorb all the therapeutic qualities contained in the herb. Thus, the oil will now carry those therapeutic properties after the process of infusion.
There are several reasons why herbs are infused in carrier oils. The most common reason would be that the specific herb used for 'infusion' contains minimum amount of oil to produce a significant volume that would be used in aromatherapy. Hence, it utilizes the existing oil properties of carrier oils and introduce its therapeutic qualities for easier application and to enjoy more benefits.
Because infused oils make use only of carrier oils, it is therefore not as concentrated as most essential oils. Aside from aromatherapy, you will also find infused oils in several other applications such as the cosmetics and culinary industries.
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What is the Difference With Essential Oils?
In order to gain deeper understanding on what infused oils are and what benefits are to be enjoyed, the most basic thing one can do is to identify its difference from essential oils. After all, many people commit the mistake of assuming that essential oils and infused oils are interchangeable.
At its core, you can identify an infused oil from an essential oil by the method wherein it was produced. Essential oils are extracted from a botanical source that undergoes various extraction methods, such as steam distillation, wherein the oils that are rich in therapeutic properties are separated from the botanical source. Meanwhile, infused oils basically utilize carrier oils as its base ingredient. Then, one or more herb is added into the carrier oil and might be allowed to sit for a few days or weeks in order to allow the essential properties from the herb to be completely absorbed into the oil.
The consistency of both oils largely differ too, such that you can use it to classify one from the other. When you use infused oils on your skin, they often leave an oily feeling, which most essential oils don't. The level of concentration is another obvious difference between these two. Essential oils, being made directly from botanical sources that contain vital therapeutic properties, are higher in concentration as compared to infused oils.
Unfortunately though, infused oils turn rancid at a faster rate than essential oils do. Therefore, you need to pay closer attention into the ideal storage method for infused oils to preserve its quality and maximize shelf life.
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Basic Recipe for Infused Oils
Now that you have a basic concept of what infused oils are about and how you can use them, did you know that it is also possible to make one yourself at home? There are two types of infusion methods that you can use: hot and cold infusion, of which you will learn more about below.
Making your own recipe at home is a great way to save money and ensure the quality of the infused oils. Basic preparation would not consume more than an hour off your time.
Ingredients You Need
In order to get your recipe started, make sure you have all ingredients ready. Here are some of the ingredients you need to get started:
*one or two types of herbs – some of the most common ones used for infused oil recipes are cinnamon, chives, cardamom, clove, dill, cumin, rosemary, mint, star anise, oregano, among others.
*about 4 cups of carrier oil
*airtight sealed bottle or container
The Process of Making Infused Oils
As mentione above, there are two basic methods for infusing oils: hot and cold. It is therefore important to go through each method since they use completely different approaches. There is an advantage to opting for the hot infusion though over the cold infusion method since you can use the oil right after your preparation.
For the hot infusion, you need to pre-heat half of the total amount of oil you will be using in the saucepan. Make sure to use only medium heat to avoid burning the oil. Then, add in your herbs and don't forget to stir to ensure that the aroma and the properties of the herb is completely absorbed by the oil. Once you can smell the aroma, turn off the stove and pour it into a separate container. Allow the oil to cool before straining it through a cheesecloth. Once the oil has completely cooled off, you can start using it.
In the cold infusion method, the preparation procedure could take a while to complete. Simply crush the herbs you want to use until it has released all of its natural aroma. Transfer the essences from the herbs into a separate container where you can add the pre-heated oil. Place the essential oil mixture into a container with an airtight seal and set aside for about 2 weeks. After that time, you can return to it and strain the herbs leaving only the infused oil.
Storage for Infused Oils
Proper Methods of Storing
Here are some tips to bear in mind when storing infused oils to ensure that you protect it against external contaminats and avoid from turning rancid quickly:
*Seal the container of the infused oil with a cheesecloth or rubber band. This will prevent external objects from getting into and contaminating the infused oil.
*Store the infused oils in areas away from the sun.
*You must also take note about the ideal storage temperature for your infused oils, which must be kept in cool places.
There are several methods of using infused oils in aromatherapy, which can have the same benefits as any type of essential oils do. Therefore, they too have their own therapeutical uses, aside from being used as an alternative to common carrier oils. Hence, it is highly important that you need to properly take care of it such that you can maximize storage life.