What are Infused Oils (also Known as Macerated Oils)?
An infused oil, also referred to as a macerated oil, consists of a carrier oil that has been permeated (infused or "macerated") with one or more herbs. The benefit to using an infused oil as opposed to a plain carrier oil is that the infused oil will contain the properties of both the carrier oil and the herbs that were infused into the oil.
Some plants do not have much essential oil contained in them, and in those cases, it is rare or impossible to commercially find an essential oil for that plant species. Infusing the herb into a carrier oil, however, can be a suitable way to still use the herb for aromatherapy purposes.
Infused oils generally have an oily feeling that varies depending on the carrier oil used. They also are not as concentrated as essential oils. Additionally, infused oils, just like carrier oils, can go rancid.
It is important that you heed the safety information and contraindications of the herbs you choose to use in your infused oil.
Shown here are bottles of infused oil resting on a bed of calendula petals. Calendula is an herb that is commonly used to make infused oils.
How to Make an Infused Oil
The easiest way to make an infused oil is by the use of a crock pot with a very low heat setting. Since the infused oil must be gently heated, it is essential that your crock pot does not overheat the oil. Do not use a crock pot that only has one heat setting as that crock pot most likely will overheat the oils. Add 2 ounces of your chosen carrier oil and 1/2 - 2/3 ounce of dried herbs (if you use fresh herbs, double the amount of herbs used) to your spotlessly-clean crock pot and stir well. Turn your crock pot to the lowest heat setting. Allow to heat on the lowest setting for two hours, stirring every 10-15 minutes (setting a timer to remind you to stir is important). After two hours, carefully strain the oil by using unbleached muslin (usually available at fabric stores). You should strain the oil at least twice. If any herbs remain in the infused oil, the oil can go rancid.
AromaWeb's Global Aromatherapy Business Directory provides a wonderful categorical directory of sellers of infused oils and other aromatherapy products.