As we all know, plant materials contain properties that at helpful to our skin just as in the case of base oils and essential oils, it is possible to extract these beneficial properties into oils, water, alcohol and even glycerine or apple cider vinegar then use these plant liquids when creating your own skincare products to contribute some useful properties.
In this blog post, I will focus on the different ways or media through which plant extracts can be made.
Infused oils are similar to essential oils, in that they contain beneficial properties of the plants from which they are extracted. Unlike essential oils, however, infused herbal oils are not volatile, they don’t evaporate and therefore have little or no smell. Infused oils are not as concentrated as essential oils and can be used directly on the skin without having to dilute any further.
To make a herbal infusion, you will need a clean jar with tightly fitted lid, a supply of herbs and a base oil. The base oil will help absorb the properties of the herbs when left to steep for a number of days. Suitable oils include sunflower, olive and sweet almond oil.
Infused oils can be made using either the ” hot or cold process”. The hot process takes a relatively shorter time than the cold process.
In the cold process, the plant materials are chopped up , put in a clean jar and covered completely with the carrier oil of choice and then left in a warm place for about 3- 4 weeks with constant agitation ( shaking). After the 3-4 weeks the product is filtered and the extract is ready for use.
The warm process, however requires doing all the above, except that the jar containing the plant and carrier oil then have to heated slowly in a double boiler for about 30mins to 1 hour before filtering. This method however, is not suitable for fragile oils, because the heat can destroy some of the properties of the oil.
Making an infused water is even easier than making an oil infusion- the process is as simple as making a pot of tea. A water infusion is known as a tea, tisane, rinse.
Fresh and dried flower petals and herbs make an excellent plant material for water infusion. Infused waters can be used to replace or blend with floral water and spring water in skincare recipes.
To make a water infusion, chop your herbs into fine pieces and put in a heatproof jug or bowl and pour boiling water over the plants and leave to steep for about 10mins before straining.
Decoctions are a special kind of infusions that involves boiling woodier, denser more fibrous parts of a plant such as roots, berries, seeds or barks.
Tinctures are a mixture of alcohol and plant materials. this process is known as maceration. Tinctures can be made from any part of the plant material, eg. leaves, bark, roots etc.
Tinctures are also known as extracts. Extracts can also be made from other liquids other than alcohol e.g. glycerine, apple cider vinegar etc.
When making a tincture, it is the alcohol, glycerine, etc. that extracts the beneficial properties from the plant materials and captures them in the liquid.
To make a tincture, chop or crush the plant materials, and then put the plant materials in a jar filled with the appropriate liquid (alcohol, glycerine etc.) so that the plant is submerged.
Put the jar in a cool cupboard for at least 2 weeks, shaking it daily to mix the plant material with the liquid.
at the end of the 2 week period, strain the liquid and the tincture is ready for use.
Note :Alcohol and glycerine extracts can last for at least 1 year and 6months respectively, infused oils will usually take on the shelf life of the base oil, while infused waters and decoctions should be used immediately and adequately preserved in the fridge for not more than 5 days.
Do you make extracts?
Please share with us..