Glycerites are used a lot in herbalism, as they are considered alcohol-free tinctures. They are actually extracts of plant matter in glycerine. There is a dual benefit to glycerites. There is the benefit from the extracts of the plant matter that is soaked in the glycerine and from the glycerine itself which is an excellent humectant. Glycerine, is a viscous, colourless, mostly clear, non-toxic, and sweet-tasting liquid produced from vegetable or animal fats.
Glycerine health benefits for skin
Glycerine has therapeutic properties of its own such as being a soothing and conditioning agent for the skin. It is a humectant which attracts water. It helps prevent water evaporation from the skin. It also prevents water evaporation from the cosmetic product we make. Glycerine also helps to reduce skin irritations caused by surfactants.
When glycerine is used in higher concentrations it tends to be unpleasant and sticky on the skin, and that is why we use glycerine in small amounts in skincare products. The concentrations are always around 5-10 percent.
How to use glycerites in skincare
You can add Glycerites to any of your water-containing formulations. Where ever the recipe calls for glycerine, you can use glycerites. This gives you the benefits of the glycerine plus the benefits of the herb extraction.
Pure glycerine extracts can be used to mix with gums to make gels such as aloe vera gel. Glycerites can also be added to emulsions at 2-5 percent in the cool down phase. At small percentages, the glycerites will not change the colour of the emulsion.
You can also add glycerites to shampoos, conditioners and soaps. These are all rinse off products and will be in contact with the skin for a very short time. Hence, the concentrations of the glycerite can be higher than 5-10 pecent.
Hibiscus, which is very good for the skin and hair is a great herb with which to make a glycerite.
How to make a hibiscus glycerite
- Dried hibiscus flowers
- Vegetable glycerine
- Distilled water
Place the dried hibiscus flower petals in the glass jar.
In a separate jar, mix 3 parts vegetable glycerine and 1 part distilled water. Shake well to combine.
Pour liquid mixture over the herb completely so that the liquid covers the herb material completely.
Store in a cool dry place for 4-6 weeks and agitate daily.
Strain with a cheesecloth and store in a glass bottle. This glycerite will stay for more than a year.
When making a glycerite with dried herbs, it is a common practice to use water to hydrate the herbs and loosen up the botanical matter. If you are making a glycerite with fresh herbs, you should use 100% glycerine for your extract – just be sure to shake it every day so that it does not spoil or mould does not form on top.
You can also make a glycerite with hibiscus powder the same way, only you will have to strain it at least twice with a very fine cloth so that no powder remains on your extract. The shelf life of this extract is between 1-2 years and it does not need a preservative.
You can make a glycerite out of any herb. It is really fun to experiment and find use for it. You can make a glycerite from hibiscus, rose, marigold, calendula, lavender, chamomile, dandelion and ginger.
Glycerine extracts are also a wonderful way of adding colour to your DIY lotions, soaps, and creams. You can use spices such as turmeric, saffron, and cinnamon from your kitchen to make these extracts.