Blue Aspen Originals

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Herbal Infusion Techniques


Here is a page I wanted to put up to help people who would like to do herbal infusions in their soap. I like to include them because I think that some of herb's properties make it through the lye process. Even if it doesn't, adding botanical infusions to soap sure creates a rich, creamy lather. Some of my favorite herbs to use are chickweed, comfrey, nettle, kelp and calendula. I use the infusions in my facial bar but I think the best use of them is in balms and salves where they do not go through the harsh lye environment of soapmaking.

Oil Infusion Method :

I prefer to use fresh herbs but this summer I was too busy to start infusing the herbs in oil which is my preferred method. That way I can use them in balms and salves. Use dried herbs in oil, here I have some olive oil with herbs in it that has been sitting near the wood stove all winter being gently warmed. Every time I walked by it I pick up the jar and give it a good shake. Next time I infuse an oil I want something that is lighter and not a greasy as olive oil, perhaps sweet almond or grapeseed oil. If you use fresh herbs you are introducing water into the oil which is a potential for molds to grow and make the oil unusable. If you are going to simmer the oil slightly like in a crockpot you can use fresh herbs, especially if you plan to use the infusion right away.

Here are some dried herbs that can be found at most health food stores.











Here is the jar of olive oil that I have dried herbs in.
The tape lists what herbs are in the infusion: Kelp, Chickweed, Mallow root, St. John's Wort and Nettle are all good for skin.


Tea Method :

I like to collect fresh herbs in the morning. When I make my infusions I don't measure how much herb I put in, just till it looks right. Our family has always had a comfrey plant in the garden, it is a good herb for skin.

Here I have some fresh comfrey I got from my garden. I cut it into smaller pieces so the water is able to get to more of the leaf area and infuse faster.

Here I have all the dried and fresh herbs in the pot. I am adding enough water in the pot to fill to just under the herbs.

adding waterI have some fresh comfrey, nettle, and dried herbs. Our water comes from a well and I feel it is good water to use in the infusion. If I lived in the city I would probably use distilled water for this.

I try to keep the temperature to below a boil as high temperature probably destroys much of beneficial properties of the infusion. I cook it at a light simmer until the fresh leaves are limp. Probably about 20 minutes at a simmer or less.

simmering

Once the herbs are done cooking, I strain all the big pieces out using a stainless steel colander.

straining the infusion

When the bigger chunks of herbs are removed I strain it again with clean cloth to get the smaller pieces from the dried herbs out. They would make the soap scratchy if they were left in.

strainging the infusion with cloth

Here is what the herbal tea looks like. When I use just fresh herbs instead of dried its is much greener. Also remember it is important to keep the boiling to a minimum to keep from cooking the herbs and destroying their properties.

herbal tea

What gets strained out is good for the compost!

compost

Here is a batch of Castile Facial Soap (87% olive oil) I made using the herbal infusion as the water in the recipe. Usually I get the soap to be a little greener but like I said above, the dried herbs probably added more brown to it. It gives the soap a rich feeling to it and even though it's not proven, I believe some of the herbal properties made it through the process.

herbal soap