Please do not write to me telling me that blogger X was able to infuse oils as you don't know if that person did this successfully or not. They might have never tested their product, ignored it after they made it and took pictures, didn't know that colour was a sign of contamination, and a million other things. If you want to make infused oils, find an experienced mentor and offer them money to learn their techniques and safety methods. Pay to get the infusions tested by a proper lab and use them only as directed by your mentor.
I will be writing more on this topic in the near future (it's summer 2017). I've only put this page up again as I was being asked about it a lot and thought it should be here for those who might consider making infusions as a way to implore you not to do it unless you find that mentor.
KEEPING THINGS IN THE FRIDGE
Keeping something in the fridge only gives it a slightly longer shelf life than something out of the fridge. If you really want to test this idea, make three cups of tea, doesn't matter what kind. Put one in your car, leave one on the counter top, and one in the fridge. How do they look after seven days? Do you want to drink either of them? Would you be willing to serve them to your friends, your family, your children? How is one of your products any different? If you won't put it in your body, why do you think it's okay to put it on your body? I'm honestly completely confused by this idea.
We know what can contaminate things that aren't refrigerated properly - the same things will get into your products. Using botanical ingredients will only increase the possibility of contamination.
Vinegar isn't a preservative you can use in bath & body products. In something like pickling, it needs to penetrate the food to replace the water and the liquid needs to be quite acidic. When you use vinegar in something like pickling, you're making it very acidic, you're adding a ton of salt, you're processing it in boiling water after creation, and you're sealing it very tightly in a suitable container. When the jar is opened, it needs to be put in the fridge and doesn't last forever. None of these things are close to what we do in making bath and body products, and you can't look at how we use vinegar in food products and extrapolate that to making a toner with 20% apple cider vinegar.
Seasoned Advice, Health Canada, Science of Pickles (Exploratorium), and North Carolina Cooperative Extension Services (to name a few)
I'm sorry, but I can't believe this is even an issue I have to bring up! Vinegar might have a small place in our products, but there are no similarities between the way we use it in cooking or preserving and the way we use it in our products. Please mention this wherever you see it that vinegar isn't an adequate preservative because it's spreading!
Weekend Wonderings: Why do we need to preservatives in products containing water?
(Many links on that post, as well as the preservatives section of the blog.)
INFUSIONS - TEA
I've addressed the issue of making teas many times, so click here for that post. Here are a few links to for your reading pleasure...
- Tetley Tea - Don't keep tea overnight or at room temperature overnight
- Safe Iced Tea brewing - "Tea leaves can become contaminated with bacteria during the growing, harvesting and drying process"
- On making "sun tea" - don't. Very relevant to this issue for bath and body products.
- Food safety news - lots of information here, but mainly don't make sun tea and dispose of tea after 8 hours.
INFUSIONS - OIL
Take a look at making our own garlic infused oil. Health Canada has an entire web page and tons of resources dedicated to encouraging you not to do this because botulism is a real possibility.
The trouble starts if you store homemade garlic-in-oil at room temperature, or if you keep it in the fridge for too long. These actions could allow growth of the spores that cause botulism, resulting in the production of toxin in the food. The bacteria spores that cause botulism – Clostridium botulinum – are widespread in nature, but they seldom cause problems, because they are not able to grow if they are exposed to oxygen. If the spores do not grow, then they cannot produce the toxins that cause illness. However, when garlic containing the bacteria is covered with oil, there is no oxygen present. This means that conditions are ripe for the spores to grow and produce toxins. You can slow down the growth of bacteria (and the production of toxins) by refrigerating the product, but this may not be enough to stop it from spoiling. What is worse is that there will not be any obvious signs that the garlic-in-oil is spoiled. You will not be able to tell if it is dangerous, because it will still look, smell, and taste the same.
How is this different from something you might infuse? It isn't. You could have the same problems, but you won't know about them until you apply that whipped butter or body oil to your skin! I've seen this infusion method recommended all over the 'net, and I was terrified to see that it was being encouraged for baby products. Please don't make your own infusions - there are so many lovely extracts, hydrosols, oil soluble things, oils, and butters we can buy from our suppliers that we know are safe. Buy those instead. Please.
I know I must seem like such a downer, telling you what you can't do all the time, but I do this because I worry. Read the comments from anonymous in this post. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do everything in my power to stop anyone else from suffering in such a way.
Please note, this discussion is closed. If you really want to make an infusion, make one. I'm offering this advice as it seems to be the best manufacturing practices not to make your own, but if you feel you can do it safely, have at it.