The new cycle of BIOPHILIA Mentorship began in November and one of the exercises mentee's received was an invitation to connect with Pine. After a lunar cycle of adventuring with their homework, this month we shared what we learned, and discussed Pine through indigenous folklore and history, our sensory experiences, observations, and more. I thought it would be nice to share this simple seasonal recipe here for those who feel drawn. This infused oil also makes a beautiful gift not just at Christmas, but any time of year.
Evergreens are an integral part of winter, from decorations for our home to incorporating it in our skincare creations. There’s something so calming and grounding about taking a walk in the forest. Conifer infused oil is like capturing the scent of the forest, so you can enjoy it every time you open the bottle. The focus of this post is to get you out connecting with the trees and into the practice of mindfulness, and less to do with '50 ways to plunder the woods next door' entitled attitude which is why I am not focusing on medical herbalism or healing properties here. Sustainability is key, and one should only ever gather exactly the amount they need, and only if they really need it. And finally, it goes without saying that you should only ever gather with the permission of the plant/tree, and be prepared to hear a 'no' too!
Generally, on a sensory level, Pine scented oil ground us and uplift our mood. After all, it’s hard to stay in a bad mood when out in the forest, surrounded by trees. Please note that the winter spices are optional.
Evergreen needles — most conifer trees that grow near you will work. White pine, spruce, fir, juniper, pinon pine are easy to identify, even for beginners, and are readily available. Cinnamon (optional)— cinnamon is warming and can improve circulation, and pairs wonderfully with the evergreens. Cloves (optional) — clove is a powerful anti-aging ingredient used in skincare. It can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also smells great added to this recipe, for that perfect winter oil blend. Sweet almond oil — sweet almond oil is an excellent oil for winter skin (dry, cold, windy climates) and or dry summer skin. It is easily and quickly absorbed by the skin, so it does not leaved behind an oily feeling. You can use a carrier oil of choice though, I simply choose to work with oils that are native to where we are.
How To Make Evergreen Infused Oil Ingredients:
2 Cinnamon sticks
2-3 Whole cloves
Carrier oil of choice
Pint or quart jar
Scissors for cutting needles
Fine mesh strainer
Jar for storing oil
Gather some evergreen branches. Pine, fir, spruce, and juniper are ideal. Be sure you can successfully identify these trees. If you need help identifying trees that live nearby, see if you can go foraging with an herbalist friend, or purchase some books about local plants to learn what grows near you.
Remove the needles from the branch, and place them in a pint jar. Fill the jar 1/3 of the way with evergreen needles. Small branches can also be added to the jar. Just cut them into small segments first. One tip is to make sure the needles are completely dry before adding the oil. If you picked the branches while it was damp or raining, it’s best to leave them out overnight so they can dry.
As you pour the oil in the jar, you will see tiny bubbles rising to the surface. Add cinnamon sticks and few cloves to enhance the scent. Fill the remainder of the jar with carrier oil of choice.
Infuse evergreen needles in the oil for 2 to 6 weeks before straining. Allow the needles to infuse in the oil for a minimum of two weeks, at room temperature. You can also let them infuse for longer, up to 6 weeks. This will make the infused oil stronger.
Shake the jar occasionally to keep the needles covered in oil. I like to set mine on the counter, and it makes a beautiful addition to my collection of pickles and infusions going on.
Strain the needles out after 2-6 weeks. Once the oil is finished infusing, it’s time to strain out the needles and spices. Use a mesh strainer to filter the oil. You can also add a cheesecloth to the strainer. This way, you can squeeze out as much of the oil as possible.
Voila! Evergreen infused oil, to use in all you winter skincare remedies.Now you have freshly infused evergreen oil, perfect to use in all you winter skincare remedies. The oil should be stored in a cool dark place.
If using sweet almond oil, be sure to use it up within 6 months. Sweet almond oil has a shelf life of only 6 months to 1 year. For this reason, I make the oil in smaller batches.
Be sure to use dry needles in this recipe, to avoid having mold grow in the jar. Any parts of plant material that are exposed to air can develop mold.
Shake the jar every couple days, and check that the needles are staying submerged. Push them down under the oil if necessary.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different conifers and spices to customize this oil to your liking!
Have fun! This is a good excuse to go for a walk, connect with the trees, ground yourself, gather a little, breathe in some forest medicine, and relax!