Like many neo-hippy types I like my food and beauty products to be as natural, non-toxic, and economical as possible while preserving quality and efficacy. Additionally, I pride myself on my bargain-hunting and creative macgyvering abilities. When you live in a city like San Francisco, those are crucial life skills. All these predilections have come together in my experiments with aromatherapy.
One drawback to home aromatherapy is that certain essential oils are often very pricey. Frankincense essential oil, for example, can easily cost $30 an ounce. I have found my way around this issue by putting some of the pricier ones on my X-mas wish list, and purchasing others from places like www.sfherb.com. There are also some substitutions that can be made, such and ylang ylang for jasmine, or one can buy diluted oils that are 1/5 the strength of pure essential oils. This can sometimes be a good option since essential oils are used in tiny quantities measured by the drop and this is especially true for bottom notes.
However, one of my personal mantras is: “If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing.” I habitually make my oils blends as strong as possible and this requires a lot of ingredients. A 20% solution just won't cut it sometimes especially for an ingredient as versatile as frankincense. In aromatherapy it is used to alleviate anxiety, treat acne, fade scars and stretch marks, moisturize skin, and slow aging. It has many more benefits and uses, but these are the ones that interest me. Do a bit of independent research and you'll find out much much more.
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Ah, my loves, and oh, my friends, I know you are thinking a number of things: First, where the hell are you going to get frankincense tears? My favorite supplier of all things spicey, aromatic, and fabulous: www.sfherb.com . They are the inspiration for my making this infused oil in the first place. You can walk in there and buy a pound of frankincense, just like that! Wow! As I've mentioned before, when you have a pound of something like cinnamon and frankincense you find ways to use it. Second, I suppose a 20% solution is stronger than a homemade infusion, but your homemade oil will be cheap and plentiful enough that you can use it as the carrier oil for future concoctions. Third, yes, it will smell amazing.
- 1. Grind the frankincense tears in a spice grinder dedicated for this purpose. Even better, make it a cheap spice grinder. Frankincense is a resin, which looks dry and solid, but it's actually a gum. When you grind it mechanically, or by hand, it becomes sticky; your fingers and tools will get tacky. To minimize this effect you can freeze the resin in advance. Grind the resin little by little until you have half a cup of powder. When you have enough powder clean the grinder immediately; getting the the powder out of the crevices. Clean the interior by grinding some uncooked rice.
- 2. Pour the powder into the 24 oz jar. I used a recycled spaghetti jar and a funnel.
- 3. Pour 16 oz of grapeseed oil over the frankincense. I get mine from a local coop that sells it in bulk. It is locally produced, expeller pressed, and deep emerald green in color. The oil gives everything I use it in a green tinge, but it is of such good quality that I don't care. Grapeseed oil is my carrier oil of choice for infusions because it is highly stable and has a long shelf life. It also is non-comodegenic, moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, and astringent. Combined with the healing properties of frankincense it makes strong medicine!
- 4. Stir the oil and powder until the frankincense is evenly distributed through the jar. It will immediately start sinking again, but you want the all the little granules to come in contact with the oil. And yes, I use a chopstick for this purpose. I know you are not supposed to split pairs, but I'm barbarian and an infidel, albeit one that smells fantastically.
- 5. Put the mason jar in a small sauce heavy bottomed pan and pour water into the pan.
- 6. Place the pan on your range and heat the water. Now you have some choices to make. If you are not forgetful, you can keep it over low heat for about 3 hours. Refill the water as needed. If you are forgetful, like me, and fear letting the water boil away and burning the resin (which I have done), you can bring the water up to a boil then turn it off. Come back later and repeat. Do this 5 or 6 times every 20 to 30 minutes, stirring up the resin each time. Refill the water as needed.
- 7. Once the oil has cooled you can strain out the frankincense. If you don't need to use the oil immediately just cover it and let it sit unstrained in a cool dark place until you need it. Alternatively you can store it and strain out a bit at a time as needed. I have these really nice brown glass boston bottles that I get fish oil in, so I chose to strain the oil.
- 8. Fold a coffee filter into quarters. Open one layer so it forms a cone. Place the cone in the funnel and the funnel into the neck of your chosen storage container. Pour the oil into the filter and let the oil drip thru. Eventually the cone will get clogged with resin, so you'll have to change it out for a new one.
- 9. Once all the oil has been strained it is ready for use. Go ahead, rub it all over your naked body! Your skin will love you!