Essential oils are a great alternative to perfume sprays. They can be used as body oils for massage or heated to make to your home or office smell wonderful. Commercially produced essential oils are somewhat difficult to make. The ingredients undergo a sophisticated distillation process involving instruments most of don’t keep around the house. The oils produced are usually heavily scented and may be quite costly to purchase. But there’s an easy way to make your own essential oils at home using just a few simple materials and a little elbow grease. You don’t need a high-tech distiller to get lovely flower and herb-based oils, your kitchen should already have everything you need. Just follow the simple steps below.
You will need:
• Freshly picked herbs or flowers (lavender, mint and roses are all good picks)
• A base oil such as almond, sunflower, safflower, or olive oil
• Plastic ziploc bag
• Rolling pin
• Glass jar with lid
• Dark tinted small glass bottle
1) Gather your plant materials.
Pick fresh flowers or herbs in the morning, when they are most potent. Make sure you pick plant parts that are free of damage from pests. As a rule, only pick up to one third of the plant or plants in your garden to make sure the plants themselves will continue to thrive (unless, of course, you want to use the whole plant). Tip: herbs are the most potent right before they bloom.
2) Release the oils.
Rinse your plant materials in cool water and blot them dry with a paper towel. Then, place 1 cup of the plant matter inside a plastic sandwich bag and seal the bag. Bruise the plants with a wooden rolling pin, just enough to release the plant essences – no need to go nuts here, a little bruising can go a long way. Just make sure you can see that some bit of the plant sap is released.
3) Prepare your base oil.
Choose sunflower, safflower, almond or olive oil as your base oil. Almond oil is a great choice if you intend to make a body oil. It also won’t cloud the fragrance as much as something like olive oil. Pour about 1 cup of your base oil into a glass jar.
4) Infuse the oil.
Add your plant matter to the oil and seal the jar. Place it in a warm spot (like on top of the fridge) to steep for 1-2 full days (24 – 48 hours). You don’t want the mixture to heat too quickly, so keep it out of direct sunlight. The process should be slow and gradual; you’re infusing, not cooking!
5) Strain the mixture.
After 1-2 days, open the jar and strain the mixture through a piece of cheesecloth. Discard the plant matter and return the oil to the jar. Chances are your oil won’t be as heavily scented as you might like at this point, so repeat the process with more plant matter, bruising and adding to the oil, allowing to steep and then straining, until you reach the desired concentration. The more plant matter you infuse, the more powerful the scent will become.
6) Store your oils.
It’s a good idea to transfer your essential oils to small darkly colored glass bottles. This is because the dark glass will block out light and prevent the fragrance from changing. If you can find bottles with droppers attached to the underside of the caps, this is a plus and will make for easier application. You can find these in craft stores. Store your oils in a cool, dark place for best results.