We discover in this post how to make macerated oils and our advice to optimize the result. In the last post we discovered together what is and what is an oleolite. Now let’s see how it is prepared!


How to make macerated oils: there are two methods:

1) Solar digestion method:

The most natural method of preparation is a maceration carried out in the sun in dark glass containers with a tin lid, so that the oil completely covers all the plant material and leaves no space between the oil and the lid (thus obtaining a sort of digestion shortening the extraction times to 21-30 days) and exposes the container to the sun during the day and in a cool and dark place at night, for two weeks.

For the quantities the literature is varied: Marco Valussi (professor, author of several books of Aromatherapy and collaborator for the production of our essential oils and hydrolates Gadoi) speaks of 250 grams of dry plant or 750 grams of fresh plant for 500 ml of oil , or in any case enough oil to completely cover the plant material, other authors suggest 7 parts of oil for 1 part of dry plant: Bettiol for example states that the vegetable used generally represents 15-20% of the final extract, ie 200 – 250 g of dry plant per 1000 g of oil. It is always necessary to experiment to find the relationship that is easier to manage.

Starting from a dry plant, after the maceration, filter and bottle or, for Bettiol, squeeze through a press and leave it to stand for at least 24 hours in a cool place then filtered on paper.

In some cases it is necessary to use the fresh plant (for example for hypericum, helichrysum, cyclamen, lemon balm, celandine) because it suffers excessively drying processes; in other cases the pros and cons must be evaluated individually. Generally the use of the dry plant is preferable because it allows to avoid risks of rancidity or bacterial growth due to the presence of water.

If you were to use fresh material you work in the same way described for the dry plant but with some more tricks: Marco Valussi (professor, author of several books of Aromatherapy and collaborator for the production of Gadoi products, chosen by Erboristeria Como for you !) for example:

  1. Before placing the material in the oil, place it on a cloth / white paper outdoors in a shaded area because it loses some of its water; leave it for 4-5 hours or until it has lost half its weight.
  2. When oil is prepared, do not cover the container / jar with a lid but with a towel or food paper, so that the water can evaporate.
  3. After separating the oil from the plant material, leave it to stand for 4 days in a tall container, covered with a towel / food paper.

After 4 days you will notice 2 separate phases, an aqueous on the bottom, originated from the water content of the fresh plant, an oily in the upper part that represents the extract. It is therefore necessary to recover only the latter by eliminating the aqueous part by decanting or by means of a separating funnel. The professor. Bettiol instead advises to do this operation after 48 hours of rest, since the phases are already separated, and then rest the extract for another 24-48 hours. Lastly, our oleolite is subjected to filtration on paper of suitable porosity.

For storage: if you use the solar method, put vitamin E in the oil before immersing the plants .:

2) Bain-marie method.

Chop the material and mix it in a steel container or other inert material (glass, ceramics) with olive oil. You can use 250 grams of dry plant or 750 grams of fresh plant for 500 ml of oil, or in any case enough oil to completely cover the plant material.

Then place the container in a bain-marie with a lid (dry plant) or a cloth (fresh plant) and let it go on low heat, stirring occasionally for 2-4 hours. The oil must never fall below the level of the plant, the water must always simmer very slightly, and the container must never touch the bottom of the pot.

Place a clean sheet or a very thin non-metallic filter on a container, pour the mass of vegetable and oil and filter, squeezing hard to get the maximum oil from the material; if the plant is fresh, do not overdo it by force so as not to get too much water.

The oil obtained is the oleolite. At the end it will be bottled filling always to the brim, it will close and you will put the label specifying the nature of the oil and the date of production. For storage: if you prepare the oil with the bain-marie method, put the vitamin E and the oils at the end of the process, at room temperature.

How to make macerated oils: some parameters to consider before preparation

  • choice of fatty oil: the old Pharmacopoeias prescribed the use of edible oils, poorly colored, with a faint odor and taste, not rancid and which did not become turbid after keeping them for 24 hours at 10 ° C and had no tendency to dry. In the choice of the oil three parameters must be considered: saponification index (the longest chain is the greater the ability to solvate polar molecules), iodine index (a high value indicates a high polarity and a great ability to solvate molecules polar),% unsaponifiable. Bruno Pelle reports a useful table in his “Fitopreparatore Manual”;
  • choice of the extraction method</span>;
  • use of the cosolvent, which is a solvent not miscible with oil (10-15% of ethyl alcohol or 20-30% of white wine) that can penetrate the body of the vegetable and solubilize components and then extract them and put them in contact with the oil. Then the cosolvent is eliminated by evaporation by heating the mass in a bain-marie;
  • D / E ratio: variable according to plants and final uses. In general, it is advisable to crush as much as possible the drug and to put it in contact with the solvent in the ratio 1/2, 1/5 or 1/10;
  • drug choice: in general dry plants are used to avoid the inconvenience of finding themselves with water in the final olite, with consequent formation of mold and bacterial load. The drug must be shredded to facilitate the action of the oil.

How do you keep an oleolite?

Owing to the absence of water in the formulation, the oleoliths are well protected against microorganisms, but they tend to oxidize easily, so they must be added with suitable antioxidants: vit E at 0.3-0.5% (natural), BHA o BHT 0.01-0.05% (synthetic), octyl or propyl gallate 0.01% (synthetic). The best way to preserve the oleolites, in addition to adding an antioxidant, is to ensure during their production to use only clean and dry tools, and to eliminate all the water that may be present in the oil.

Examples of how to make macerated oils:

How to prepare the hypericum macerated oil (or hypericum oil):

The Hypericum, to be used fresh and its flowering tops, needs sunlight to activate itself and become red (for hypericin) and must be harvested in June / July. For the Bettiol the quantities are: 200 gr of hypericum tops fresh flowers on 1000 of oil, for the skin 300 gr. You will fill half a jar with fresh flowers of St. John’s wort and leave to macerate with extra virgin olive oil (or olive oil, sunflower, sesame in equal parts, as for example chose Flora srl) that will be added up to 2 cm from the edge . Close the jar and expose it to the sun, shaking it once a day. After about 30 days, when the oil has taken on the characteristic red color, the oil will be filtered. Remember to keep it in the dark. Hypericum oil is useful for muscle massages and frictions in case of joint pain, arthritis and rheumatism, but also for skin care and in case of back pain.

Tips: if you use the bain-marie method, put the oil in a container to rest to remove the water directly in the sun for two weeks; choose dark glass. With the method of solar digestion, instead, it is better to opt for transparent glass. In addition, the hypericin contained in the hypericum dissolves well in alcohol, so if you use the alcohol method you will obtain a better oil.

– How to prepare the calendula macerated oil (or calendula oil):

Leave the fresh marigold flowers to dry in the sun. Pour the flowers into a glass jar and fill it with extra virgin olive oil or sweet almonds (or olive oil, sesame and sunflower, in equal parts). The proportion between flowers and oil should be about 1:10, for the Bettiol 150 gr on 1000 of oil). Expose the jar in the sun for about 30 days. Filter everything with gauze and store the oil. Calendula oleolite has soothing, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and cicatrizing properties.

– How to prepare arnica oleolite (or arnica oil):

Take a jar and fill it with 3/4 of arnica heads, then proceed adding the oils: pour sweet almond oil (or sesame and sunflower) up to half of the level of the flower heads, for the other half remaining pour olive oil. Cover the tin entirely with aluminum and put it to rest for 25-30 days, then remove the can and proceed to the first filtering with a strainer in order to remove the flower heads after pressing them on the colander with a spoon. Seal the oilseed tightly and allow it to rest for one night. Then proceed with the second filtering, using a cotton gauze. The gauze fibers will capture the last residues and you will have a pure oil ready for a massage.

– How to prepare carrot oleolite (or carrot oil):

It is suggested to prepare the carrot oleolite using sesame oil (or olive oil) and fresh carrots. Use 150-200 grams of carrots on 500 ml of oil (in the oleolite of Flora the carrots are 50%, for Bettiol the doses are 200 grams per 1000 of oil). Chop the carrots and chop them quite finely, pour them into a jar and fill it with the indicated oils. Leave to stand in the dark for 10-20 days, filter and store in bottles of dark glass. Carrot oleolite is suitable to apply after showering and as an after sun.

Dr. Laura Comollo

Visit our herbal department or Contact us for more information about how to make macerated oils.

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