Fresh lemongrass (citronella) on wooden background.

Extracting oils from plants can be done in several ways. Two popular methods, tincturing and hot infusion, result in a medicinal oil that can be taken orally or applied to the skin. Lemongrass is known to act as a fungicide when applied topically or aid in digestion when drank in tea. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and get cooking so that you can experience these awesome benefits.

Making a Tincture

Break fresh lemongrass stalks and fill a canning jar halfway. Breaking the stalks allows the natural oils to be released from the plant and strengthen the tincture.

Fill the jar half with alcohol and half with cold water. Vodka or brandy are the most common alcohols for making tinctures, but gin can be used as well. If you'd rather not use alcohol, a half-and-half solution of white or apple cider vinegar and water will also work.

Cover the lid and gently shake the jar. Allow the herbs to settle and check that all the plant material is covered by liquid. Even a small bit peeking out could mold during the tincturing process, ruining your solution. Add more liquid if need be.

Place the jar in a cool, dark room and wait three days. Then, pour the solution into a blender and blend. This will allow greater absorption between the herbs and the liquid, particularly because lemongrass is such a woody plant. Put the blended liquid back into the jar and store for at least three weeks.

Strain the liquid from the plant material. Put a colander over a pot and lay a cheesecloth over the colander. Dump the tincture in and squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the lemongrass.

Pour the tincture into a clean glass jar and store until you're ready to use. Tinctures are commonly taken directly on the tongue but adding it to a cup of warm tea or water may be a more palatable option.

Creating a Hot Oil Infusion

Pour 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil into the top of a double boiler. Don't cover the pot.

Crush half a stalk of lemongrass, chopping if necessary, and place it in the oil. Do not let any water get into the oil or it will ruin the infusion. Don't wash the lemongrass before you put it in the pot. If it's still wet from the market, let it dry before placing it in the oil.

Heat the double boiler until the water on the bottom begins to steam. Turn it down to a gentle simmer. Infuse the lemongrass in the oil for at least an hour, but the longer the better. Be sure to check on the water in the bottom pan to make sure it hasn't all evaporated.

Cool the oil down and strain the herbs through a mesh strainer. Use the oil as a topical ointment or as a soothing massage oil.


  • To sweeten the tincture and help mask some of the vinegar taste, add a teaspoon of honey directly into a vinegar-and-water tincture solution and allow it to steep along with the herbs. Honey will not affect the tincture in any way other than taste.