Making your own soap is a fantastic alternative to commercially prepared, chemically laden body cleansers. The main benefit being that you are able to control the quality of your soap. Herbal infusions in the oil used can lend natural, chemical free scents, color and more. Herbal oil infusions for soap making are easy and inexpensive to make. All you need are dried herbs, oil and some basic equipment.
- First you need to choose which herbs, and which oil, you are going to use. Choose herbs based on the properties you want in your soap. For example, herbal oil infusions that include chamomile and lavender promote relaxation while mint and patchouli are energizing. Once you have chosen your fresh herbs, make sure you dry them thoroughly. Choose your oil based on shelf life and what's required for your soap recipe. Olive oil works well as the basis for many herb infused soaps.
- Next you need to decide what equipment to use for making your herbal oil infusion. The basic idea is to heat the oil, with dried herbs, slowly, which infuses the herbal essence into the oil. There are a few different ways to do this. The simplest way is to fill a glass jar halfway with dried herbs, finish filling with oil and set on a sunny windowsill for a few days. The windowsill must be sunny and warm, however, which isn't necessarily practical for much of the year. Other options include a water bath or crock pot. Each method for making herbal oil infusions has advantages and disadvantages.
- For the crock pot method, place about 1 cup of dried herbs and 16 ounces oil in the pot. Turn on the pot and let heat to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Simmer for about one hour, let cool slightly then simmer for another hour. Remember that you do not want to cook the mixture, you merely want to warm it enough to infuse the oil. Temperatures any higher than this will cook the herbal oil infusion. The water bath method uses the same idea, heating the jar of herbal oil in a pot of simmering water, instead of directly in the crock pot.
Once you have infused the herbal oil, strain the oil through layers of cheesecloth into the jar that you will be using to store it. Be sure to squeeze out all of the oil. Use your herbal oil infusion as you would any oil in soap making.