Infused Oil Help

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cherrybomb

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Hi all!
I have been making soap now for around a year, and during this time I've been following pre-made recipes found online with minimal tweeking here and there. I'm at the point where I'd like to create my own recipes, and I've done a lot of research into SAP #s and calculating lye, appropriate fatty acid blending, iodine numbers, etc. etc... One of the oils I'm using in this first creation is olive oil, and I calculated everything based on olive oils properties. But the olive oil will be infused with calendula (marigold) prior to mixing it with the other fats and then the lye solution....Does anyone know if the infusion process changes the properties of the olive oil or if it's numerical qualities (like saponification number, iodine number, fatty acid distribution)? My main concern is using the right amount of lye so I'd like to know mostly about the SAP....thanks in advance for the help!
-CC
 

AlchemyandAshes

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I've used infused oils for years, and I don't believe it changes anything about any of the numerical values, or if so, it's so negligible that it doesn't cause any issue with soaping it.
 

hoegarden

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I infuse all my oil with herbs as well. The properties of the oil will not be changed unless you use hot infusion method.
 

cherrybomb

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I do use the hot process method. I would love to do a slower more natural infusion, but I live in Brooklyn with barely any sunlight in my apartment and no outdoor area to call my own :-( So for now I have to do hot process, do you know how this changes it? Thanks for the response!
 

hoegarden

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The only issue with hot infusion is that the oil will get burn and once burn the properties are altered. Not only the fatty acid in the oil is burnt, the benefit of the herbs will also be destroy. Other than than no major issue.

I did not sun my oil when I do the infusion as sunlight cannot enter my room. Just be more diligent and shake the infuse oil daily for 2 weeks. Occasionally I will soak my bottle in hot water to warm up the oil to get the similar effect of putting it in the sun. I usually soak about 1 month plus before using.
 

AlchemyandAshes

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It's actually better to keep your infusion out of the sunlight, and to keep them in a temperature stable environment. And as Hoegarden stated, give them a good shake every once in a while.
 

cherrybomb

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Oh wow I always thought that sunlight was needed for that sort of infusion! Glad to learn something new today, thanks for the tips! I can have my infusions going and soap curing for around the same amount of time then...I hate the long wait though:-|
 

AlchemyandAshes

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I forgot to add that the only time I use heat with an infusion is if its a very fiber-y root or stem...then I heat the oil til its about the temperature of hot tea (to touch the outside of the cup), then pour it over my herb and cap the jar. I like a 6 week or longer infusion.
 

TeriDk

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Now I have a question. The SMR website recommends heating infused oils in a crockpot for 2 hours yet it is suggested here to keep infused oils away from heat regardless the source. Using heat to extract color or infuse oil to extract herbal properties absent heat. Are these 2 different concepts? If so, do the herbal properties survive the saponification process? I made my 1st calendula infused soap with the petals the other week and it's one that will be repeated for sure.
 

AlchemyandAshes

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Now I have a question. The SMR website recommends heating infused oils in a crockpot for 2 hours yet it is suggested here to keep infused oils away from heat regardless the source. Using heat to extract color or infuse oil to extract herbal properties absent heat. Are these 2 different concepts? If so, do the herbal properties survive the saponification process? I made my 1st calendula infused soap with the petals the other week and it's one that will be repeated for sure.
It's personal preference and different teachings, I think.
Depending on why you're infusing the herb...some herb's beneficial properties deteriorate under high heat. This may even be questionable if you gel your soaps as I do. Until someone does an awesome lab experiment on an herbal soap, we'll just have to hope for the best. If color is your main reason for the infusion, you may not care to worry about any of that and just want immediate satisfaction of using your infusion.
If you need to use that infusion ASAP, then you'll need to use heat. Soaking an herb for a few hours will not extract the color or beneficial constituents without heat. I still wouldn't heat it anymore than you have to. The heat will make it more likely to go rancid, so you should keep it under 150 degrees F. Try to use a crockpot on the lowest setting or a water bath method like for canning but at a lower temp.
 
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TeriDk

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It's personal preference and different teachings, I think.
Depending on why you're infusing the herb...some herb's beneficial properties deteriorate under high heat. This may even be questionable if you gel your soaps as I do. Until someone does an awesome lab experiment on an herbal soap, we'll just have to hope for the best. If color is your main reason for the infusion, you may not care to worry about any of that and just want immediate satisfaction of using your infusion.
If you need to use that infusion ASAP, then you'll need to use heat. Soaking an herb for a few hours will not extract the color or beneficial constituents without heat. I still wouldn't heat it anymore than you have to. The heat will make it more likely to go rancid, so you should keep it under 150 degrees F. Try to use a crockpot on the lowest setting or a water bath method like for canning but at a lower temp.
Thanks, I did use a water bath, in a crockpot on the low setting for 2 hours. I will say the color didn't turn out as I expected when I used the sandalwood. The infused oils continue to sit with the herbs. I infused the calendula petals in OO for 3 weeks with no heat...in fact some of the oil is still sitting. A good thing, yes?
 

paillo

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I've always infused my herbs in oil and put them immediately in a sunny window for weeks, sometimes months. Good to know they shouldn't have a lot of direct sun, Shawnee. Actually, I found that out the hard way, had a bunch of mason jars with infused herbs in the kitchen window, several rows deep. Missed checking and shaking a few in the back, in the most direct sun, and after a number of months they had faded from rich herb-y colors to clear, pale and wan :( They're probably safe to still use, but I doubt that the nice herbal properties survived my negligence :(
 

AlchemyandAshes

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I've always infused my herbs in oil and put them immediately in a sunny window for weeks, sometimes months. Good to know they shouldn't have a lot of direct sun, Shawnee. Actually, I found that out the hard way, had a bunch of mason jars with infused herbs in the kitchen window, several rows deep. Missed checking and shaking a few in the back, in the most direct sun, and after a number of months they had faded from rich herb-y colors to clear, pale and wan :( They're probably safe to still use, but I doubt that the nice herbal properties survived my negligence :(
Yeah, I think a lot of people are taught to put their infusions in a window so that they are gently heated and hence, the extraction is better. However, as you found out, sunlight fades herbs, especially green ones. Also, oils left in a hot window for long periods of time can go rancid. So I either store my infusions in a dark cabinet, or I'll put them on the kitchen counter out of direct sunlight where I'll see them every day and will remember to shake them. If I have a stubborn root or stem that is very fibery, I will use the low heat method for a while...but for leaves or flowers...no heat.
Do your infusions that faded smell rancid, or is it just the color that went wonky?
 

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