How to Macerate Oils

Posted on January 6, 2017 in Ingredients

A great way to extract the therapeutic properties of plants and herbs is to make a maceration using carrier oils as a solvent, such as olive or sunflower oil.

Fresh herbs have a high water content which can lead to microbial contamination, so its better to use dried herbs. If you are using fresh herbs from your garden, let them wilt and dry out for 24 – 48 hrs before chopping them up into small pieces.  They can then be crushed slightly using a pestle and mortar before being added to the oil. 

There are several (lengthier) ways to macerate oils, but today we will look at a quick method using a slow cooker (crock-pot).

Slow cookers are fantastic for making a maceration as they maintain a constant temperature and will not overheat/burn the herbs.

To make a macerated oil

Firstly, you will need a good quality oil to use as the menstruum. Olive and sunflower are the oils of choice but you can also use sweet almond, coconut and jojoba.

You will then need to choose the herb you would like to macerate. Here are a few of my favourite herbs;

Calendula flowers are very soothing and softening making it especially suitable for inflamed and itchy skin conditions, sensitive skin and babies. 

Comfrey root and leaf  has to be my favourite herb. It is fantastic for treating cuts, grazes, rashes (including nappy rash), and insect bites, as well as easing pain associated with arthritis, and exercise related pain and injury.

Plantain is a wonderful herb to help ease minor skin irritations, insect bites, wounds and inflamed skin conditions.

Arnica flowers help reduce swelling and bruising, protect against infections and relieve exercise related pain and injury. Never used on broken skin.

Place your chosen herb in the slow cooker and cover with the oil of your choice, making sure to leave at least an inch of oil above the herbs.

Heat Oils

Set the slow cooker to low, stir, cover and gently heat the herbs for between 1 – 4 hours until the oil takes on the colour and scent of the herbs. 

Once ready, turn off the heat and allow the oil to cool slightly. Strain the oil by pouring through muslin cloth into a heat proof jug or bowl making sure all the herb is removed.

Filter Oils

Ensure you get all the macerated oil by gently squeezing the herb in the muslin cloth. 

Add about 2% vitamin E oil to help retard rancidity and prolong the shelf life.

When completely cooled, transfer to amber glass bottles, label and date.


Most macerated oils have a shelf life of 9 – 12 month if stored in amber glass bottles out of direct sunlight.

I hope you enjoy making your own macerated oils. Let me know in the comments below what oils you make and what are your favorites.



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  • Reply Angela Sharp July 2, 2017 at 2:35 am

    I want to try macerating dried rosehips and some green tea in sunflower oil. I bought a face balm from a UK company and the ingredients list was filled with herbs, I assume the company mixed them all together in olive oil.
    Many of the herbs I could not find from suppliers but I have lots of rosehips as I buy them as horse treats and I have a beautiful green tea I drink. Also the product ingredient list mentioned Spirulina. Don’t see how this was macerated though.
    I love the idea of herbs in products. I will try in my slow cooker.
    Many thanks

    • Reply moirabrindle July 3, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Hi Angela, you can macerate rosehips and green tea in olive oil or you could try jojoba or sunflower oil too. Spirulina can also be macerated in oil but you may want to place it into a teabag as this makes it easier when it comes to filtering the oil. I love utilising herbs, they make a wonderful addition to formulations and offer many benefits to the skin.

  • Reply Angela Sharp July 3, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    Hi Moire,
    Thank you very much, I will try in olive oil.

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