Infusing lavender oil is quite simple and doesn’t require any heavy equipment. All that’s needed is a carrier oil and the flowers from any type of lavender.
3 steps to infuse lavender oil
Lavender flowers, when steeped in another oil, will share its scent and active compounds. Much like tea makes water taste good and gain soothing benefits, it’s possible to steep lavender blooms into almost any type of carrier oil. The three steps to follow are:
- Flowers: harvesting and preparing the lavender flower
- Infusing: soaking the flowers in the oil
- Filtering: removing the flowers to only keep the scented oil.
Equipment and ingredients
You won’t need any equipment, nor will you have to heat and cool the product.
List of items needed to infuse lavender oil:
- clean and dry jars with lid
- optional: mortar and pestle to bruise the flowers while fresh
- cheesecloth or even simply a coffee filter to remove spent, infused flower material
As for your lavender oil ingredients, only two are needed:
- lavender flowers
- carrier oil, enough to fill the jar or jars to the brim
The lavender flowers can come from any variety (well, except for non-lavandula species like sea lavender and the like). Varieties that will have the strongest scents are lavandin (a sterile hybrid) and Portuguese lavender. Other species work very well, too, though, so don’t fret much about that.
As regards the oil, it’s important to select an oil that you already like to use pure. For instance, argan oil is very soft for massaging and doesn’t have a strong scent. Coconut oil is also very light, but its strong scent will remain in addition to that of lavender: make sure you like the olive oil fragrance, too!
What is a carrier oil?
The oil that will absorb the scents and compounds from the lavender, is called a “carrier oil“: it carries the flower’s properties along with its original benefits.
- does it feel too greasy for you?
- what is its shelf life?
Shelf life is how long it takes for the carrier oil to go rancid. When it does, it gets a horrid, smelly scent and taste and must be thrown away.
Oils that are “greasy” might suit dry skins better, but they take longer to massage into the pores and skin cells. Oppositely, “light” oils easily dry off and won’t stain clothes as much.
Step 1: preparing the lavender flowers
When to harvest lavender flowers to make oil?
- Harvest the lavender while still fresh and blooming. This means that each tiny bud has small flower petals that haven’t yet fallen off. It’s better if some of the tiny buds haven’t yet opened (say, one or two in five).
- Dry weather will lead to stronger scents. It’s better to harvest after a week of no rain, if possible.
- Early morning is when flowers have the highest concentration of fragrance.
Should you dry lavender flowers before infusing them?
If you make small quantities of oil for use within a few weeks, it isn’t necessary to dry them. However, if you intend to make a batch that will last you through the year, then it’s crucial to dry the flowers very well.
- Dry the lavender flowers with their stems tied in a bundle, hanging it upside-down in a dry spot, well-ventilated and sheltered from direct sun. It usually takes about three weeks for the flowers to dry. Once the bouquets are dry, shake the flower buds into a large bowl or spread a cloth underneath to catch the individual flower buds.
Crush the flowers
Remove the stems and keep only the flower buds. If it’s too much work, at least snip the stems short to only keep the spike (or panicle).
Bruising and crushing the flower buds will greatly increase the intensity of the infused lavender oil. In a mortar and pestle, crush the grains but not into a paste. Simply bruising the buds and breaking up their structure is enough.
Step 2: infusing the carrier oil with lavender flowers
This step is straightforward:
- Fill the jar about 3/4ths full with the bruised lavender buds
- Douse with the carrier oil, enough to completely cover all flowers. Press the lavender down to make sure it doesn’t float up. You can also fill it to the brim and screw the lid on to keep any air out.
Wait for two to three weeks. Room temperature is enough, though having a slightly warmer environment will help infuse faster. Some try to increase the temperature by heating but there’s a risk of breaking compounds down if you heat too much.
- Warm areas include the back of a fridge, near home appliances, under a sunny window (but not in direct sun).
- Turn the jar over to mix it up occasionally, daily is ideal.
Step 3: filter the plant matter out
Two or three weeks later, open the jar and pour the oil through a filter. Toss the spent flower material out and collect the oil.
- A coffee filter works very well, but it may take long for the oil to drip down.
- Cheesecloth works faster but tiny particles may sift through.
- Our recommendation is to first run through a cheesecloth, and finish off with the coffee filter.
Repeat to increase intensity
If your lavender plant is still blooming, you can use the same carrier oil for a second round of infusion.