While oregano essential oil can be purchased through specialty stores and online, it is fun and easy to make your own version at home. Making essential oils at home can turn into a fun hobby that is beneficial for the entire family. In the case of oregano oil, it can also be cost efficient as you can easily grow your own oregano. A fresh bottle of homemade oregano oil even makes a great gift.
Keep in mind that no homemade oil is as potent as a purchased oil. This is because it is near impossible to duplicate the complicated process with at home materials. Oregano oil is such a strong oil though that even the homemade version is still strong enough to be effective throughout the home and on the body. The same safety precautions need to be taken since the oregano itself is such a strong ingredient.
What You Will Need
The quality of your oregano will determine the final product. Look for the freshest oregano possible. The best option is to use oregano grown at home or to buy a plant and use the leaves the same day they are picked. You can use fresh leaves from a store, but your final oil will not be as strong. Look for healthy leaves without any brown or dry areas. Don’t use dried oregano leaves. There will not be enough oil left in them to make a strong essential oil.
The amount of oregano that you need will depend on how much oil you want to make. Keep in mind that the oil should be used within six months. You will be using an equal amount of oregano and oil. For example, a cup of oregano leaves would need a cup of olive oil (or other base oil) to create a homemade oregano essential oil.
- Mortar and Pestle
This will help to release the oil. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, there are ways to duplicate the process.
- Double Boiler
If you don’t have a double boiler, make your own by placing a pot inside of a larger pot filled with water.
- Large Glass Container
This is what you will make the oil in so make sure that it is big enough to hold all of the oregano and oil. It should also have a tight fitting lid. You can use an old food container as long as it has been cleaned thoroughly and is made of glass. A canning jar would be ideal.
- Base Oil
Olive oil is recommended for making oregano oil but any carrier oil will do. Make sure that its scent doesn’t mix strangely with the smell of the oregano, which is quite strong on its own. You will be using the same amount of oil as oregano.
- Cheesecloth or Coffee Filter
A cheesecloth will work best but a coffee filter can be used in a pinch.
- Dark Glass Bottle
This is what you will be storing your essential oil in. They store best in dark glass and will stay fresher longer this way. Try to use one with an eyedropper attached to the lid to make distribution easier. Be cautious if using a bottle that previously held a different essential oil. It can be difficult to completely clean the bottle and remove all the residue and fragrance from the previous oil, which can affect the new oil that will be placed in it.
Wash and dry your oregano. Place in the mortar bowl and gently crush the leaves to release the essential oils. If you do not have a mortar and pestle, cut the leaves and place into a plastic bag. Cover with a kitchen towel and pound on the leaves with a heavy kitchen tool, such as a meat mallet. Try not to tear the leaves. You only want to apply enough pressure to encourage the oil to release from the pockets in the leaves. Too much pressure will actually weaken your final essential oil potency.
Heat up your olive oil in the double boiler. The oil should never boil during the process. Add the oregano leaves to the oil and allow the leaves to simmer in the oil for several hours. If time allows, let the leaves sit for five hours but keep an eye that the oil never boils. If the oil boils, the chemical makeup of the final product will be off. If time is an issue, use a slow cooker to keep the oil warm all day while allowing the leaves to soak. The oil will not get as hot in a slow cooker so the soaking time should be extended by a couple of hours.
After simmering, pour the oil and oregano into a glass container. Shut tightly and store in a cool and dry place for about two weeks, giving the jar an occasional shake. After the two weeks have passed, strain the solution using a cheesecloth. Make sure to get the oil off of the oregano leaves as best as you can before discarding them.
The remaining oil is your essential oil. Place the oil in a dark, glass bottle and store in a dark, cool place. Use it as desired to help with reducing pain and inflammation, fighting off infections, relieving digestion problems or as a great flavor enhancer in the kitchen.
If you want to make a very strong oil, you have the option of doubling the amount of oregano (two cups of oregano for every cup of oil). Use this stronger oil with caution.
Oregano oil should be used within six months. Try adding a few drops of vitamin E oil to extend the life of your oil, if you are using cosmetically. If you are using the oil for cooking, feel free to store it in a decorative glass container to store on your kitchen counter. Just check the oil before each use to make sure that it has not spoiled.