Learn how to make herbal glycerites
What are glycerites? Glycerites are liquid herbal extracts that use vegetable glycerin as the medium to extract the medicinal properties from medicinal and aromatic plant material. After the plant material has soaked in the vegetable glycerin for 4-6 weeks, the plant material is pressed out, and the remaining glycerin is called a glycerite.
What is glycerin?
Glycerin is a colorless, odorless, viscous, sweet tasting liquid. It is derived as a by-product of the soap making process when the fat molecules in fixed oils, like olive, almond or coconut, are split via the process of saponification.
Glycerin can be either derived from plants or animals, but in our work using botanicals we only use vegetable glycerin, solely derived from plant sources that are GMO-free and ethically sourced.
Glycerites and aromatherapy products
Vegetable glycerin can be found as an ingredient in a variety of skin and body care products. Its function in a formulation is primarily that of a humectant, which means it encourages moisture absorption. Glycerin actually attracts water from the air to help restore the moisture balance of the skin, It can also draw moisture up to the surface of the skin and make it more emollient. Glycerin has self-preserving properties as well as the ability to help solubilize essential oils during the water phase of the formulation procedure (e.g. cream making).
Glycerites can also capture the aromatic compounds of plant materials. The aromatic components could contribute to the medicinal and therapeutic properties of the formulation as well as be one of the harmonizing elements.
This weekend my son, Soren, and I made a German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) glycerite. The German chamomile flowers are from our garden and the aroma was divine!
Now, we can’t wait to press it out and use it internally (for sleep and calm) and externally (in a summer gel!).
The best plants for making herbal glycerites
Here are some of our favorite herbs for making glycerites:
- German chamomile flowers
- Echinacea sp.
- Hawthorn berry
- Elderberry flowers
- Mullein leaves
- Milky Oats (Avena sativa)
- Rose petals
Make your own fresh plant glycerite
Spring and early summer are great times to make fresh plant herbal glycerites. So get out in the garden and make your own aromatic and medicinal glycerites for your aromatherapy body care products.
To make a fresh plant glycerite, follow these steps:
- Harvest plant material (on a day when there has been no rain and the plants are dry).
- Fill chosen container to about 2/3 to 3/4 of jar with prepared plant material.
- Cover plant material with 100% glycerin.
- Now comes the tricky part, you will want to pour the mixture of plant material and glycerin into a blender.
- Allow blender to run until all ingredients are well combined. (We used a vitamix blender.)
- Pour mixture into appropriate sized clean and sterilized glass jar. Cap jar and label with contents. (see below for what to put on your label)
- Let the glycerites macerate for two to four weeks. Shake daily.
- Once glycerites is ready, press it out using 2 or 3 layers of cheesecloth and a potato ricer or herb press.
- Bottle in clean sterilized glass bottle.
- Your glycerite is now ready to use. Glycerites can be used internally or externally in body care products!
What’s on the label?
- Name of Plant: Common name and Binomial (Include where it was from: e.g. garden, farm, etc)
- Menstruum used: Vegetable Glycerin and/or Water
- Date glycerite was made: _________
- Date glycerite can be pressed: ________
How can a herbal glycerite be used?
Each glycerite offers a number of unique properties that can be used internally or in aromatherapy body care products, including in:
- Creams and lotions
- Facial or body exfoliants
What is the shelf life of a glycerite?
The average shelf life of herbal oils is 1-2 years when stored properly. Whether you are making glycerites or purchasing them, they should be stored in a cool and dark cabinet.
What is the best way to store glycerites?
Glycerites are best stored under the following conditions:
- Store in cool location away from direct sunlight.
- Store in dark, tightly closed bottles.