Its latin name, Lavandula, is derived from lavare, meaning “to wash.” For 2,500 years historians have documented this herb, including its medicinal, therapeutic and protective qualities.
Lavender can soothe injured or itchy skin, aid sleep, produce a calming effect and disinfect surfaces. Lavender oil can easily be added to anything you wish, including homemade soap, cleaning products, shampoos, lotions and more. Once you know how to make lavender oil, you’ll learn there are so many creative ways to incorporate it in your daily routine.
Make ready-to-use, DIY lavender oil by following these easy steps.
How to Prepare Your Lavender
Lavender is a flowering herb from the mint family commonly known for its calming aroma and light purple flowers. Whether you grow and harvest this plant at home, or you like to visit a local lavender farm, you can create your own lavender oil.
Please note, however, that this is the process for making lavender oil, not lavender essential oil. If you are looking to make lavender essential oils, the process involving steam distillation is a much more difficult process and can produce a lower yield.
First, you will need to either cut off sections of fresh lavender from the plant and dry them or purchase properly dried lavender from a lavender farm or another distributor. Failure to dry lavender correctly can result in spoilage of your oil.
If you are drying your own lavender, follow these steps:
1. Cut off segments of the plant at least six inches in length, rather than picking the flowers. Most parts of your lavender plant contain the fragrance and can be used, including the leaves, flowers and branches (the new stems). The only parts of the plant you’ll want to avoid are the thick stems near the base. For this project, it is better to have pruned too much lavender than too little. If possible, pick more than you think you’ll need.
2. Tie the segments of lavender together with rubber bands. You can tie with twine, but you will need to tighten it occasionally or risk fallen twigs. Your gathered bunch of lavender will shrink in size as it dries. Using rubber bands that secure a tighter hold ensures that not too many fall out. If some do fall, you can reattach those fallen twigs.
3. Hang the lavender bunch upside down in a dry, warm place with occasional sunlight. You will need to allow it to hang-dry for at least two weeks.
Once your lavender is fully dried, you can prepare to infuse it into your oil by following these steps:
1. To expose the fragrance, lightly crush your lavender (flowers, leaves and stems all included) with a clean, heavy object or or crumble it with clean hands.
2. Place the crushed pieces in a clean, dry glass jar. After you clean it, be sure your jar is completely dry. If your water is mixed into your oil, it will interfere with the infusion.
What Do You Need to Make Lavender Oil
- glass jar (for infusing)
- dark glass bottle or jar (for storing)
- cheesecloth, muslin, or fine-mesh strainer (for straining)
- crushed lavender flowers, leaves and stems (enough to fill your jar)
- carrier oil of your choice
- Almond oil is a great source of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Olive oil contains vitamins A, D, E, and K and has exhibited antibacterial properties.
- Coconut oil is an abundant source of lauric acid, which is known for its antibacterial, moisturizing, and hormone-balancing properties.
- Safflower oil contains linoleic acid which can be used to treat eczema or other flaky skin conditions.
- Grapeseed oil can help regulate your natural oil production, so it’s a good option for oily, acne-prone skin.
- Jojoba oil is known to treat acne and improve oily skin.
- Sunflower oil is high in Vitamin E, A, C and D and is non-irritating for most people, so it can be used on all types of skin.
- Witch hazel oil can work as a natural skin toner, soothe irritation, and fight acne.
Note: Whether you use olive oil or another option, make sure to give your oil a “smell test.” You want to choose a natural oil that does not have a strong smell that will possibly overpower the lavender’s aroma
How to Make Lavender-Infused Oil
1. Lightly crush dried lavender (including the flowers, leaves and twigs) with a clean, heavy object or crumble it with clean hands to expose its fragrance.
2. Thoroughly wash a jar to be used for the infusion part of the process. Be sure your jar is totally dry! Any amount of moisture will hinder the infusion.
3. Place the crushed pieces of dry lavender herb into the jar.
4. Pour your oil of choice over the crushed, dried lavender. Be sure to completely cover your lavender, but leave a small amount of space at the top of the jar to allow for any expansion that may take place.
5. Close the jar tightly and leave it in a sunny location. You don’t want to put it in direct sunlight, though, so a window sill that gets a lot of sun is your best bet.
6. For best results (the strongest smell), leave your jar on the window sill for 3-6 weeks.
7. After this amount of time, use a cheesecloth (or other straining material) and a funnel to strain your infused oil into a dark bottle or jar. You can discard the lavender pieces in your compost or garden.
8. Enjoy your aromatic, natural lavender oil.
Note: If you feel the scent is not strong enough after straining, you can start the process over again with the same oil.
How to Store Your Homemade Lavender Oil
Remember that lavender itself has antibacterial properties, so it is not likely to spoil quickly. Stored correctly, lavender oil can last for years, but the shelf life of your lavender oil really depends on the shelf life of the oil you chose to use. Check the expiration date on your oil for good measure.
To store correctly:
- Keep your lavender oil in a dry, dark location, like a pantry or drawer. Refrigeration is not necessary.
- Use an airtight, dark-colored jar or bottle for storage as light exposure breaks down the aroma of your oil.
If you want to extend the shelf life of your lavender oil, the addition of vitamin E is a great way to do this. Simply stir in a few drops of liquid vitamin E or open a capsule to add to your oil.
Discoloration is usually not a reason for concern. It is natural and normal and can occur as a result of oil evaporation or a change in temperature. Spoilage can happen, though, if water — which can contain bacteria — has gotten into your lavender oil. Remember, you have to dry your jars thoroughly.
A simple sniff test should let you know if your lavender oil has gone rancid. Always check the smell before you apply your oil to your skin.
How to Use Your Lavender Oil
The list of ways that you can use lavender oil is endless, but here are some ideas to get you started:
- Massage it onto your feet, temples, wrists, or hands to produce an instant calming effect before sleep or during periods of high stress and anxiety.
- Create a natural face toner by mixing your lavender oil with witch hazel.
- Apply topically to treat eczema or to calm other skin irritation.
- Apply to fungal infections to inhibit the growth of skin bacteria.
- Use it as an anti-aging night cream.
- Massage some into your scalp to fuel healthy hair growth.
- Use it to soothe inflammation and heal wounds.
- Mix it with aloe vera to treat a sunburn.
- Use it as insect repellent or to relieve itching of insect bites.
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