How to Dry Herbs for Crafts

Many herbs retain their beauty, color, fragrance, flavor, and beneficial properties even when they are dried. Not only are they used for food recipes, but they are also widely used for beauty recipes. They make wonderful additions to soap, bath salts, body scrubs, face masks, potpourri, sachets, and much more. They can be combined with dried flowers and dried fruit slices and peels to make truly beautiful and fragrant crafty creations.

Since most dried herbs retain their strong fragrances, they are used in aromatherapy as well. They also retain their vibrant color and they make great additions to potpourri blends, dried flower arrangements, wreaths, etc,

Herbs that dry well are Lavender, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Rosemary, Mint, Sage, Chamomile, Basil, Oregano, Thyme, and Bay Leaves. These herbs also retain their strong flavors so they are very good choices to dry not only for crafts but also for cooking.

You can buy dried herbs but the good news is that you can save money and dry them yourself if you have an herb garden. Just like drying flowers, there are several easy ways to dry herbs.

Visit these helpful links about drying your own herbs:

Carrier Oils

For this post let’s look at carrier oils. As we saw in the post about essential oils, since they are so strong it is not a good idea to apply them directly onto the skin (neat). They should be diluted in soap, body butters, oils, etc., When they are used in oils, these oils are known as ‘carrier oils’ because they ‘carry’ the essential oils to your skin. They are also known as base oils.

Carrier oils are mainly vegetable and nut oils…these oils are also the kinds you cook with, and since they contain beneficial qualities and nutrients for the skin, they are also used as the base oils for massage and bath oil blends. It is important to remember though that you shouldn’t go to the supermarket and buy any vegetable oil and use it for your skin because some oils are manufactured differently. The kinds of oils you should use on your skin should be ‘cold pressed’ or ‘cold expeller pressed’ – which means that the oils have been extracted without the use of additional heat. Although there is some heat involved in the cold pressed method because of the friction produced during the extraction, it is not enough to destroy the vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids that are beneficial to the skin. Some oils, however, are manufactured using extra heat in order to increase the amount of oil during the extraction but this heat is so strong that it destroys much of the oil’s beneficial skin properties. Make sure your oils have been cold pressed, your best bet is to shop from health food stores or aromatherapy supply stores.

There are many different carrier oils available and the kind you choose should depend on what you want to use it for – some oils are beneficial for dry skin, others are beneficial for oily skin, others for sensitive or aging skin, etc., Most carrier oils are clear and odorless, although you may be able to detect a slight aroma. The cool thing is that the aroma is not strong enough to interfere with the fragrance of essential oils that are added to it. There are some oils though that have a very very strong aroma, like olive oil but most people really don’t mind the strong distinctive smell.

Examples of carrier oils that are generally good for all skin types are Sweet Almond oil, Apricot Kernel oil, Sunflower oil, Avocado oil, Safflower oil, Grapeseed oil, Coconut oil, and Jojoba oil*.

Avocado oil, Olive oil, Sweet Almond oil, and Rosehip Seed oil are good choices for dry skin types; Jojoba Oil, Sesame seed, Sweet Almond, Apricot Kernel oil, Avocado oil, and Grapeseed oil are good choices for sensitive skin; Jojoba oil, Safflower oil, and Grapeseed oil are good choices for acne prone skin.

Carrier oils and essential oils can be used to make awesome bath oils and massage oils. So how much should you use? The general rule is a 2% dilution, which would be 10 to 12 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.

You can get really crafty and creative with bath and massage oil blends and package them in pretty bottles and add dried fruit slices or dried flower petals and herbs inside the bottle to enhance the look and smell. A dried orange slice looks fantastic in a bottle of orange bath oil, as do dried rose petals in rose oil, etc., But make sure that your fruit, herbs, and petals are completely dry before adding them to the bottle otherwise they will go rancid. Also, keep in mind that carrier oils themselves will go rancid after a certain amount of time.

Luxurious bath and massage oils make great gift ideas especially when dried flowers, herbs, and fruit are added inside the bottles. You can decorate the outside of the bottles with raffia or bows or dried flowers and herbs. Another great gift idea is to make add the bottles to gift baskets that contain other fragrant products like candles, potpourri, bath salts, etc., Below is an example of a Rose themed gift basket that I had made.

* Jojoba oil is technically not an oil but a liquid wax. It is very similar to the natural oil on human skin and it works as a great moisturizer.

* If you have nut allergies, please use caution and do not use oils that are derived from nuts. Use the seed based oils instead.

Essential Oils/Fragrance Oils…What’s the Difference?

For this post I want to discuss essential oils and fragrance oils which are important whether you’re making fragrant products (soap, candles, potpourri, etc.,) for sale, or buying them for your own use. First of all, what are they and is there a difference between an essential oil and a fragrance oil?

While many people use the words essential oil and fragrance oil interchangeably there is actually a difference between them. Essential oils are natural essences derived from plants, flowers, and fruits. Many parts are used to extract essential oils – leaves, petals, leaves, rinds, etc., The most common way to extract them is by distillation, in which the plant/fruit parts are crushed and steam-heated and the essential oils are condensed from the steam. The amount of plant material needed to extract the essential oils varies, which is why you will find a great difference in prices of various essential oils. Some of them are quite expensive for a small amount, for example over 60,000 roses are required to make just one ounce of essential oil. Since essential oils are natural essences of plants they are used in aromatherapy for their medicinal properties and mood enhancing qualities.

Fragrance oils, on the other hand, are synthetically produced aromatic oils. Since they are commercially produced they are much less expensive than the natural essential oils. Also, because they are synthetic, fragrance oils do not contain the natural aromatherapy properties of essential oils, although some fragrance oil do contain certain amounts of essential oils in them. But since they are not derived from nature but are manufactured, you will find a great many interesting varieties of fragrances like cinnamon buns, pecan pie, sweet candy corn, and buttercream. Fragrance oils are used to make fun, fantastic bakery scented candles and soap/bath products. Keep in mind though that not all fragrance oils are safe to use on the skin and if you’re a crafter, be sure to check with fragrance oil companies to check which ones are safe to be used in bath products.

So does this mean that since essential oils are natural they are better than the synthetically produced fragrance oils? Well, no actually, and in the cases of some essential oils, make that hell no. Just because something is natural it doesn’t mean that it is good for you. All essential oils are highly concentrated and very strong and they should never be used directly on the skin (called “neat”) without being diluted first, either in carrier oils, bath salts, body scrubs, etc., Some essential oils are actually milder than others but even these can cause a bad allergic reaction if used neat and if it happens to you, you’ll definitely be thinking this is so not neat. Some essential oils shouldn’t be used at all because they can be toxic and some shouldn’t be used by pregnant women.

But all this doesn’t mean that you should be looking at all essential oils with a nasty side-eye and avoiding them like the plague, they are safe when used correctly and make wonderful additions to fragrance and aromatherapy crafts. It’s just always better to err on the side of caution.