Every winter is happens: I finally have time to make salves, ointments, teas, tinctures, etc. and the recipes all require infused oils that use plants that are only fresh and free in my yard in the spring and summer.
As an ambitious gardener, I barely keep my sanity during the spring and summer with my garden plans. I do NOT have time to make herbal remedies then! So I’ve some up with a compromise: I’m spending ONE day making Dandelion Infused Oil, Comfrey Infused Oil, and Plantain Infused Oil. When my Calendula blooms later this summer, I’ll then spend ONE day making Calendula Infused Oil and Yarrow Infused Oil.
Since infused oils stay good for at least a year, I will be able to use them this winter for my projects. Huzzah!
How to Make Dandelion Infused Oil
It’s probably a safe assumption to say that almost all of us have dandelions in our yard. If you don’t you can get seeds here. This is one of the most common “weeds” around. Sadly, dandelions are despised by most people and these poor plants get sprayed with all sorts of yucky chemicals.
However, Dandelions deserve our respect and admiration! This is an amazing plant for us. The leaves, flowers, and roots of Dandelions are loaded with nutrients and natural remedy qualities that are very good for our bodies.
I’ve written about the medicinal qualities of Dandelions here and here before, but there are many more medicinal uses for Dandelion than just mentioned in these posts. For this Dandelion Infused Oil, we start by foraging the flower heads of Dandelions.
Quick rules for foraging for medicinal plants (or any type of foraging):
#1: Don’t use a plant if you aren’t 100% confidant that it is that plant. So if you are not sure about what is and isn’t a Dandelion, and if no amount of google images or foraging books are making it clear to you, please find a local foraging expert to help teach you.
#2: Make sure you are foraging for Dandelions in a place that hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals. If you aren’t foraging Dandelions on your own property, then really REALLY make sure that you have permission to get it where you found it and that it hasn’t been sprayed.
#3: Never take all of the plant. That’s how ecological systems can be ruined. Take some of each plant, but leave enough of the plant to allow it to continue to thrive. I personally never take more than 40% of each plant.
Why I am making a Dandelion Infused Oil:
- Dandelion flowers act as a mild analgesic (a minor pain reliever), so it will be great in salves for sore tissues/joints.
- The flowers help with dry and chapped skin, so it will be great to use in DIY lotions.
- Dandelion has the potential to both detoxify and cleanse your clogged pores.
- Dandelion is loaded with vitamin C, which can help speed up the healing process and help reduce scars and inflammation.
- Dandelion flowers are known to ease the pain of sore muscles and arthritis.
Since Dandelion is so helpful with dry skin, pain, scars, inflammation, and clogged pores, I plan on using it in my salves and lotions that I make this winter. I’ll make sure to include those recipe links in this post when I have them finished, but in the meantime, here’s a list of great salves/recipes that use Dandelion Infused Oil:
- Dandelion Salve for Muscles and Joints: this salve is super simple, just Dandelion infused oil and beeswax, and you can use it on sore muscles from working in the garden (or whatever else!)
- How to Make Dandelion Magnesium Lotion: this lotion will nourish your skin as well as help with nerve pain, leg cramps, and more.
- How to Make Dandelion Lip Balm: if you’re looking for a nourishing and healing lip balm that’s packed with vitamins and nutrients, then this is the lip balm for you.
- Dandelion Lotion Bars: These are the perfect lotion bars for dry and chapped skin and they look pretty, too!
Directions for Dandelion Infused Oil:
- Decide how much Dandelion Infused Oil you will need and find a glass jar that fits those needs. Since I will be combining it with other infused oils in my projects, I am using a jar like this.
- Harvest the Dandelion flowers on a dry and sunny afternoon.
- Allow the Dandelion flowers to dry overnight. **(see note at end of post about dry vs. fresh herbs for infusion oils)
- Use one of the following Infusion methods with your Dandelion Infusion Oil:
**This is the old-fashioned way of making Infused Oils. Fill your glass jar half full with the herbs/plants and and then completely cover them with your oil (good quality olive oil is the best) right up to the brim. Use a spoon or butter knife to gently stir the plants to make sure there are no air pockets. Cover tightly. Place the jar in a warm and sunny spot and let it steep for only 2 weeks. Unlike most infused oils, which need 4 or more weeks, Dandelion Infused Oil should be done setting after 2 weeks. The flowers have too much moisture in them, and waiting longer just increases the chance of mold. Check it every few days and gently shake it to encourage the plants to release their medicinal benefits. After 2 weeks, strain the oil through some cheesecloth (keeping the oil!), and make sure to wring that cheesecloth good and tight to get every last precious drop of your medicinal oil. This is my preferred method. It takes a while, but it makes me feel closer to nature and the olden days.
Double-Boiler Method Infused Oils:
**This is a the quick method for making Infused Oils, best for those times you need an Infused Oil ASAP. Place the herbs and olive oil in a double boiler and bring very slowly to a low simmer. Slow slow SLOWLY heat for at least 30-60 minutes, check it frequently to make sure the oil is not overheating. The basic rule here is that the lower the heat and the longer the simmering can happen, the better and medicinally-stronger the oil will be. If your stovetop gets too hot, it might destroy the medicinal properties of the plant, so please remember to keep it on low! Then strain the oil through some cheesecloth (keeping the oil!), and make sure to wring that cheesecloth good and tight to get every last precious drop of your medicinal oil. This is the method that I used for my Sore Muscle Salve.
Other methods I’ve seen:
**I’ve read of people using crockpots. You should place a towel on the crockpot bottom, put the jars with tight covers in the crockpot, and add water to half way up the jars. Put on the lowest setting for 12-24 hours. I’ve also read of people using yogurt makers in a similar way. These versions just need to make sure the heat is LOW.
**Some people do the opposite of solar-infused oils: they put the jars in a dark place for 4 weeks instead of a warm and sunny spot. I find these two opposing ideas fascinating, and I’ve done both in the past. I personally prefer the sunny and warm method for infused oils and I use a dark and cool place for my tinctures. I’d love to know your preferences in the comments! 🙂
Other tips for your Dandelion Infused Oil:
**Make sure to label your jars with the name and when you made it (otherwise you will end up like me: finding dusty jars of liquid and no idea what it is!). You certainly don’t want to get your jars mixed up, plus, it helps you know when the oil might be expired.
**Check your Solar infused oil every few days for mold. If you see a small spot of mold, remove that herb/plant part and the mold, and you *should* be okay. However, if there is lots of mold, sadly, the infused oil needs to be thrown away.
**Keep your Infused Oil in a cool, dark place. Most infused oils will last for a year or perhaps even longer, if stored correctly. If it begins to smell bad, it might have gone rancid, and it’s time to throw it away and make a new batch (but really, I’m sure you will use it up before the year is done!).
**Note on fresh vs. dried herbs for Infused Oils:
One thing that has always driven me crazy when I’m researching how to make infused oils is that the recipes almost always call for dried herbs. It seems like such a pointless extra step…and one that takes quite a bit of time and energy (as in: the dehydrator would be using electricity constantly for 24 or more hours). I think it’s partly because many people don’t have access to these plants in fresh-form. However, it’s also because there is a chance for mold issues with fresh herbs/plants with the infused oil process. I don’t recommend using fresh plants for infused oils that are meant for cooking, however, I still like to use fresh plants for medicinal infused oils.
There are a few things you can do to prevent mold issues when using fresh herbs/plants for infused oils:
- Collect your plants on a sunny afternoon during a week that’s had very little rain or no rain. We are looking to prevent too much water in the leaves.
- Do not wash your herbs/plants because we don’t want water introduced to the process. That means you should really make sure you are getting your plants from a location that hasn’t been sprayed with yucky chemicals.
- Consider wilting your plants overnight. If you can afford using a dehydrator, feel free to use that overnight. I prefer the old fashioned way: I place the plant parts on my kitchen counter overnight on a dry towel, and then I make the oil the next day.
- Make sure your glass jars for the infused oils are completely dry. This includes the lid! Make sure any tools you use also do not have water on them.
For further reading:
Have you ever made an Infused Oil before? If so, what? If not, will you now?