Herbal Infusions are genius! They’re super useful and really don’t cost a lot to make. They’re also probably the easiest of all the botanical extracts you can make at home.
Let’s take a DIY tincture like the one I made last week, for example. You have to macerate that for a minimum of 2 weeks! I sometimes struggle to be that patient. Infusions, however, only need a maximum of an hour!
You can then take your infusions and use them in all sorts of different skincare products. You also don’t have to worry too much about how much you’re using, because infusions aren’t super strong like a glycerite.
They’re kind of like a herbal tea, but not quite. Perhaps not one you’d enjoy drinking, although many people swear by the healing and detoxifying benefits of drinking your own herbal infusions. Nevertheless, for our purposes, they’ll do wonders for your skin!
What Are Herbal Infusions Good For
Infusions are great in many different skincare recipes because they’re packed with the vitamins, minerals, and goodness of the herbs you’re infusing. Anything that requires a water part can be replaced by an infusion. If you see distilled water in an ingredients list, you’re nearly always safe to swap it out for your own homemade infusions.
My favorite way to use them is in emulsions. While it’s very common to use a hydrosol instead of distilled water in your favorite lotion, I sometimes like to make use of an herbal infusion instead. They have many of the same properties, providing its made from the same source (e.g. lavender hydrosol and lavender infusion) and will probably save you some money.
Experiment with your infusions. Try them out in your different recipes and see where you like them the best. Keep in mind that infusions tend to have an earthy color to them, in contrast to hydrosols which are usually crystal clear. This is because more of the larger molecules found in the plant matter will end up in your infusion.
While this isn’t a bad thing, be mindful that it can change the overall color of your product. White emulsions tend to take on warmer, ivory-like colors. Infusions also have a tendency to take on the aroma of whatever you’re infusing, so keep that in mind as well when designing the scent profile of whatever product you’re making.
How To Make An Infusion
Here are two ways to make an infusion. Well, they’re technically the same process, but slightly different depending on whether you’re making in bulk to use later or making just enough for right now.
So let’s start with the bulk method. If you know you’re going to be using infusions a lot, its probably a good idea to make it in advance so you can save time later on. Time is money, after all!
Making Infusions in Bulk
First up, you’re going to need to get your hands on a heatproof jug. If you can, pick up one of these infusers (see picture above). They’re kind of like a kettle, but you don’t put it on the stove. You’ll notice it has a little pocket in the center, which is where you can put whatever you’re infusing into. This means no need to strain it after!
If you can’t find one of these, don’t worry. Any jug will do providing it’s safe to pour boiling water into. It just means you’ll need to strain/sieve out the plant matter once you’re finished with it. FYI, I picked mine up at IKEA, but you can also find them on Amazon.
This is going to sound strange, but when it comes to quantities I’ve never really measured anything. I know, I’m terrible! This is because it’s nowhere near as important here, not like in soap making! Providing you have enough distilled water to cover all the herb, plant, or flowers you’re using, you’re usually good to go.
Nevertheless, when I made the infusion for this post, I’ve done some measuring for you so you can get an idea of how much you’ll need. But keep in mind that this recipe is very forgiving, so don’t worry too much about being exact.
Ingredients For A Lavender Infusion
Step 1: Add the lavender buds to your jug. If you’re using an infuser, you can place them inside the infusion pocket.
Step 2: Boil your distilled water. You can do this in an ordinary kettle. Once boiled, pour it into your jug or infusion pot.
Step 3: Now we leave it for about an hour. You can leave it longer if you wish, but it really does need at least a full hour.
Step 4: Once you’ve waited an hour, you’ll notice the water has change color significantly.
Step 4: Now, pour the liquid out of the infusion pot into a jar or bottle to store. If you’re using an ordinary jug, you’ll need to sieve out the lavender buds as well.
This should keep for a couple of weeks as is. However, you can add a broad spectrum, water-soluble preservative at 1%, which will extend this to about 12 months. Store in a cool, dry place. You could keep it in the fridge if you like.
Making Smaller Batch Herbal Infusions
Okay, so I’ve shown you how to make infusions in bulk. But if you wanted to make some for just one purpose, to replace the water part of your next emulsion for instance, then you can follow this method.
Because we’re using a smaller batch, we can make use of a water bath here to speed up the infusion. This turns the 1-hour wait into a 15 minutes wait. This is ideal if you’re planning to immediately use it in something like an emulsion, so it doesn’t add a significant amount of time to your craft.
Ingredients For Rose Petal Infusion
- 70g Distilled Water
- 0.8g Rose Petals
- Heatproof Beaker
- Deep frying pan or saucepan
- A few inches of ordinary water in the pan
Step 1: Start by setting up your water bath. To do this, fill your pan with a few inches of water and turn on your stove to medium heat. Bring it to a gentle simmer.
Step 2: Add your rose petals to your beaker
Step 3: Pour your distilled water over your rose petals. No need to preboil for this.
Step 4: Place your beaker into the water bath. Ensure that the temperature of your stove doesn’t boil the water in your water bath. You want a gentle simmer. Leave your beaker in the bath for about 15 minutes.
Step 5: Once 15 minutes are up, carefully remove from the water bath and separate the liquid from the rose petals. You can do this by using a sieve and another beaker. Then you’re good to go.
Best Plants For Your Infusions
While there are all sorts of plants and herbs you can use to make herbal infusions, some are perhaps more beneficial than others. So I thought I’d compile a list of some of my favorites, with a short description of what they’re good for, you can find more information and where to buy them on my botanicals page.
Callendula – Great for calming the skin and alleviates irritation.
Echinacea – Reduces inflamation, soothes acne and speeds up skin regeneration
Comfrey – Powerful anti-inflamatory
Green Tea – Helps to balance oily skin
Lavender – Anti-inflamatory, also helps to heals wounds and has some anti-agining properties
Lemon Balm – Great for refreshing and balancing skin. Great in toners
Marshmallow – Softens and moisturises skin, providing a silky texture
Elderflower – Helps to lift skin, making it appear brighter
Of course, there are many more you can try you hand at infusing. Do some research and find all the weird and wonderful herbs that could change your skin care forever!
So that’s it, you have everything you need to get out there and make a herbal infusion from the comfort of your own home. While there are perhaps more sophisticated botanical infusions for you to try, this is definitely an oldie but a goodie.
People have been making infusions for millennia, and for good reason. While a glycerite might be more powerful, they’re not nearly as easy or as quick to make as a herbal infusion. Sometimes the simpler option is the best option.
I would definitely give this a try the next time you’re making a skincare product with a water part. Like I said earlier, if you see distilled water in the ingredients list, it’s likely you’ll be able to swap it out for a herbal infusion, like for like. Except for maybe a soap recipe, because we all know how easy a soap recipe can go wrong!