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Can anyone share what is the best way to extract herbs for homemade cream/lotion/gel base.?

I currently have some gotu-kola (fresh plant) + some dried fo-ti (he shou wu) bark, and I like to extract these herbs to make my own homemade cream/lotion/gel base.
What types of solvents should I use?
Normally it’s the alcoholic + water solvents, but I prefer not to use alcohol.
I was thinking to just use plain water as solvent by boiling the fo-ti bark + gotu-kola…but how do I preserve them as boiliing usually means using them up in 24hrs or 48hrs at best (if kept referigerated)…and how do I incorporate them into my cream/gel?
Any input will be much appreciated. Thanks!!


  1. A good preservative is Witch Hazel, it has some alcohol in it, and you can boil your herbs in that easily as you can in water.
    The biggest problem faced in making herbal products at home is shelf life. They do have to be made more often as they tend to spoil after a certain amount of time, but the quality of the product and the knowledge you are using only the best ingredients far outweighs the small inconvenience. The trick is to make them in small quantities, or just enough to last until you know you will need to replace them. Another simple point to remember is –
    Without the harsh chemical preservatives, you can easily introduce bacteria. Use a small spatula or plastic knife or similar sterile utensil to lift out a small amount at a time when using the product.
    By themselves, oils and waxes will remain stable. It is the introduction of the herbal infusion, or aloe gel, or unsterilized water that presents the problem of mold and bacteria. It is also possible to make or purchase extracts of the herbs you wish to include and use those in your products, rather than an infusion.
    ALWAYS BOIL THE WATER or WITCH HAZEL AND STERILIZE YOUR CONTAINERS (since boiling water will destroy/melt some plastic containers, use alcohol to sterilize these). There are two natural preservatives which can stabilize your product. Tincture of Benzoin is available through your local pharmacy and has been used for a long time commercially. Gum benzoin, from which the tincture is made, is a gum resin from Asia. It is applied at the rate of 1 drop per ouce of product. Becoming more popular each year is grapefruit seed extract, available through herb supply outlets, and is applied at the same rate. Also known for its preservative qualities is vitamin E. It won’t take the place of the benzoin tincture or grapefruit seed extract, but 200 to 400 I.U. per ounce of product will not only help out with longevity, it’s also good for the skin.
    When adding aloe to your product, be aware fresh aloe gel from a houseplant will develop mold quickly. It is better to purchase food grade aloe gel which has already been stabilized.
    When a recipe calls for glycerin – it always means vegetable glycerin. At no time should you use any other type. It is always to be food grade vegetable glycerin.
    Oils commonly used in cosmetic preparations are sweet almond, olive, safflower, peanut, corn, wheat germ, jojoba, and small amounts of vitamin E oil. Vitamin E can be purchased in gel caps which can then be pierced and the contents squeezed out. In the following recipes the ingredient lecithin refers to liquid lecithin. All lanolin used is anhydrous lanolin. Lanolin comes in liquid and anhydrous (water removed) forms.
    One other ingredient you will require is beeswax. It melts at 148ºF, but the process goes more quickly if you first grate it. A hand held rotary grater with the large holes for grating makes short work of this.
    Other tools which you will need are a blender, or mini food processor, or similar item which is capable of making mayonnaise, since the process of combining oils and water is similar. My personal favorite is a Black and Decker Handi-Mixer with a drink attachment. It’s a lightweight hand-held unit that does the job well and with little to clean up afterward. You will also need a stainless steel or enamel double boiler. It is absolutely essential to melt the waxes and oils in the top portion of the double boiler over hot water in the bottom pan.
    To incorporate them simply add the infused water-with hazel-oil or other into your lotion/gal/cream base. You want to add enough to get the herbs into the product, but you also want to be sure the product keeps the desired consistency.


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