Learn how to make a glycerite, AKA glycerin infusion or glycerin extract. Everything you need to know about their benefits, how to use them in your DIY skin care, plus an easy DIY glycerite tutorial to help you craft whatever glycerite you choose.
Can I admit something to you? I’ve been making handcrafted skin care products for over two decades, and I just learned how to make a glycerite this last summer (2021).
I love formulating with glycerites, also known as glycerin infusions or glycerin extracts. But up until just a few months ago, I had always purchased premade glycerites (AKA glycerin extracts) from cosmetic suppliers.
What took me so long to give DIY glycerite recipes a go?
I thought that they would be too complicated and time consuming to make. I’ve always had trouble with my herbal infused oils spoiling and molding, and I figured glycerites would be the same way.
When I had a countertop overrun with homegrown peaches, and had made my fill of cobblers and canning, I decided to experiment with the summer bounty and make my first glycerite.
DIY glycerites are easy to make, supremely flexible, and add a bushel-full of benefits to your handmade skin care products.
Now, I love making glycerites, especially because of the flexibility. You can safely use fresh herbs, flowers, and fresh fruits and vegetables to make glycerites, unlike infused oils which an only be made with dry ingredients.
What Are Glycerites?
So, to the uninitiated, what exactly are glycerites, or glycerin infusions?
Glycerites are extracts that use glycerin as the base, rather than alcohol. Almost any plant matter can be used to make a glycerite: herbs, flowers, fresh fruit, vegetables.
As the plant material steeps in the glycerin, water-soluble constituents of the plant are extracted into the glycerin. The glycerite takes on all the beneficial qualities, color, and sometimes scent, of the herb, fruit/vegetable, or flower used.
Some of my favorite (and most beneficial) herbs, fruits, and vegetables to use in DIY glycerite recipes are:
- Berries of all types (blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries make awesome glycerites)
- Lilac (this smells amazing)
Remember, when making glycerites you can use fresh fruits/vegetables, and either fresh or dried herbs. Because glycerin is water-based, the liquid constituents of fresh ingredients are readily infused.
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How To Use Glycerites in Handmade Skin Care
You can use glycerites wherever you would use glycerin. In fact, you can substitute glycerites for glycerin in any recipe.
My favorite way to use glycerites is in facial moisturizers and body lotions. I’ve made an awesome triple berry facial moisturizer with strawberry glycerite. So. Good.
I also made a body lotion formulation using the glycerite made from the fresh peaches from our orchard, along with mango butter that is divine. So good, in fact, that I share the this peach mango body lotion recipe in my mini course Create a Handmade Skin Care Recipe Journal. (This is a special-access courses that’s available only to students within my online schoolhouse.)
You could also use glycerites in bath bombs, facial masks, and toners/splashes.
Although a tiny amount of glycerite may mix into oil-only products like body balm, glycerites are water-soluble so they mix best in products that are not oil-based.
Are you ready to try your hand at making glycerites yourself? Here’s the super simple process.
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How To Make a Glycerite Instructions
When making glycerites, ingredients are measured by weight, as a percent. This insures the correct ratio of glycerin-to-infusing-ingredient, allowing you to make a safe finished product without the use of preservatives. Although, to lengthen shelf life you can add a broad-spectrum preservative like Germall Plus or Optiphen Plus.
(If you are unsure how to measure in this way, check out my Measurements Made Easy online class to learn how to easily and effectively measure by weight, in parts, and how to calculate and measure in percent. You’ll also get free bonus access to the Create a Handmade Skin Care Recipe Journal Mini Course I mentioned earlier.)
- 70% vegetable glycerin
- 30% herbs, fruits, flowers, or vegetables
- Optional to extend shelf life: 0.5% liquid Germall Plus preservative*
*If using a preservative, reduce glycerin to 69.5%
You’ll also need:
- Digital scale
- 2 mason jars (or similar glass jars) with lid
- Spoon or silicone spatula for stirring
- Butter muslin, tightly woven cotton cloth, or a coffee filter*
*Coffee filters work in a pinch to strain your glycerite, but I’ve found the glycerite tends to creep up the filter and can be a bit more messy to strain.
Prep step: Sanitize your jar and lid by washing in hot, soapy water. You could also run it through a hot setting on your dishwasher, or disinfect by giving a rinse in a dilute bleach solution (3 cups water mixed with 4 teaspoons liquid bleach.)
Step 1: Weigh out whatever herb, fruit, or vegetable you’re infusing and give it a rough chop. Pour into a glass jar.
Step 2: Weigh out glycerin and pour into the jar. Stir well until everything is nicely incorporated.
Step 3: Put a lid on your jar and let the mixture set for 7 to 10 days. Shake the jar daily. You’ll notice the glycerin start to take on the color of your infusing ingredient. It’s so pretty! You’ll also notice the glycerin becoming thinner or more fluid. This is normal, as the water-soluble constituents are pulled into the glycerin.
Step 4: After 7 to 10 days, it’s time to strain. Place a funnel covered with butter muslin (cotton cloth, coffee filter) into the second sanitized glass jar. Pour the glycerite into the funnel to strain. This will take a looooong time, so be patient and let the glycerite do its thing. Although it’s tempting, don’t squeeze the straining bag or filter, otherwise your glycerite will turn out cloudy.
Step 5: After the glycerite is completely strained, discard the herbs/fruit. I like to compost mine.
Step 6: If you are using a preservative, add it to the glycerite now and stir well.
Label your glycerite with the type and date made.
To use: Use this glycerite in any recipe that calls for glycerin, like handmade lotions and facial creams.
Shelf life: Unpreserved glycerite should last 4 months, preserved for 12 months. But, of course, if it changes in color, consistency, or smell, toss it.