How to: Cucumber Glycerin Extract - 1

María gets full credit for being the inspiration for this post. Not long ago, she left a comment about having successfully made glycerine extract with both fresh cucumber and fresh strawberries.

That was enough to get me all excited about giving this a try.

Glycerine extracts are useful alternatives for folks who may not want to use tinctures (alcohol extracts) in their products. And even though a glycerine extract won't last as long (suggested 6 - 8 months) as an alcohol extract (4 - 5 years), it does offer other plusses.

With a glycerine extract, you have a dual-functional ingredient: a humectant with 'added botanical power'.

It's definitely a desirable alternative to formulating with fresh food.

Let's make a glycerine extract using fresh, organic cucumber!

Calculating the Water to Glycerine Percentage

Glycerine extracts are commonly made with dried plant materials that are reconstituted with water, then added to the glycerine.

The usual ratio of water to glycerine is 50/50.

Fresh cucumber is about 96% water, so it was easy to use Marías suggested method of using half cucumber to half glycerine.

For this batch I used
49.7 % Glycerine
49.7 % Cucumber
0,6 % Preservative (I used benzyl alcohol)

You: Preservative, Lise? Is that really necessary since we're using glycerine?

I had the same thought.

But, let's look at this for a second. Introducing plant material and water to glycerine and letting it sit around for a while.

Could this be a recipe for a bacteria rave party?

Yes, it could very well be.

Aroma Zone's glycerine extract how-to not only suggests adding 0,6% broad spectrum preservative, but storing the final extract cool and using within 6 months.

I think I agree with Aroma Zone on this one.


This is a pretty quick and easy process.
  1. Sterilize the jar and your equipment
  2. Peel and slice the cucumber
  3. Weigh cucumber
  4. Weigh and add glycerine
  5. Add preservative
  6. Place lid on jar
  7. Keep jar in a dark and not too warm area
  8. Agitate the jar daily for 1-2 weeks

Tip: Always always measure your ingredients by weight - this is the only accurate way to be sure of your amounts in any formula.

Coming Up

Straining and bottling the extract and testing it out in a product.

More How-to's on making your own ingredients for skin care products

Making a tincture (alcohol extract) - 1
Making a tincture - 2
Making an infused oil - 1
Making an infused oil - 2


María said…
A preservative in these kind of extracts is a good idea always, as minimises the risks of microorganisms growing.
I'm so looking forward to know about your experience...
I'm really happy with this method, but you're a big expert and that's different.
BTW, I've also used a 10% cucumber glycerine extract (I mean 10% glycerine and 90% water) as the only water phase in a summer cream and was fantastic!! I left the cucumber infusing 24h in the fridge, and after filtering thoroughly, I used the liquid extract as water phase.
LisaLise said…
María - Your summer cream sounds absolutely lovely! I really have to thank you. Imagine - I have made tinctures, infusions and decoctions for ages, but never ever made a glycerine extract. It's about time!
Tina CPH said…
I have to try this and I have too much glycering in my cupboard! Thanks Lise and María!
I really like the summer cucumber cream as well María, that sounds just wonderful.
María said…
Hi ladies,
I can tell you that this summer cream is one of the simplest I've made. I used the cucumber 10% extract, as above, as the only water phase, and used only jojoba and olive oil for the oli phase. No other additives or actives whatsoever. Just preservative. No fragrances or essential oils. It was super light and fresh, so summery!
I used a 20% oil phase, so, 15% jojoba and 5% olive oil.
This is my favourite for the hot Spanish summer and it goes very well for almost all skin types :)
LisaLise said…
HI Tina - I look forward to hear what you think of it! :)
LisaLise said…
Hi María - Cool! This sounds like a great combo. Which emulsifier did you use?
María said…
Hi Lise,

My favourte emulsifier are the Olivem 1000 and glyceryl stearate SE, as they are simple to use and I can modify texture just by adding thickeners or other texture enhancers, like stearic acid, cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, xantham gum, etc
CC Mirabella said…
So happy to see this!! I had seen Maria's comment couple weeks ago and just had to try even though I wasn't feeling 100% confident .. So I did it but went on family vacation right after so just got home I'm going to read this completely then check my experiment thank you to both of you girls!!
LisaLise said…
HI María - Oh yes, you and I both love Olivem 1000 and it sounds like we use the same emulsifiers - glyceryl stearate and cetearyl alcohol are staples in my stock.

Thanks for sharing!
LisaLise said…
Hi CC Mirabella - Sounds fabulous! I love it when people are inspired by the comments :)
KMY said…
why do we pee the cucumber? I thought the peel contained "good stuff".
LisaLise said…
Hi KMY - If you check back a few posts, I did an AB test using fresh cucumber juice - one with and one without peel. The peel of cucumber brings unwanted elements to the mix.
Anonymous said…

Can I put this in the fridge for the 1-2 weeks?
LisaLise said…
Hey there Anon - yes you can. :)
Anonymous said…
Thanks! I tried the cucumber glycerite and just wondering is the resulting solution suppose to be 'liquidy'? Thanks
LisaLise said…
Hi Anon - it should be liquid but exactly the same viscosity as the glycerine is to begin with - no noticeable difference.
Anonymous said…

Thanks for the response. Not sure where I went wrong cos mine has a runnier consistency, nothing like the glycerin I began with...
LisaLise said…
Hi Anon - This doesn't sound right-- do check that the glycerine you used is within date. Also, did you measure the ratio of cucumber to glycerine? Does your extract smell ok?
Marina said…
did anyone tried to make this with strawberries?
LisaLise said…
Hi Marina - stay tuned for a post on making a strawberry glycerine extract! :)
Unknown said…
Thank u lise. Have really learnt from you
LisaLise said…
Thank you kindly Jemila - I hope you have fun with it!
Ifexki said…
Hello Lise i love your blog a lot. I have been trying to make a skin product containing unrefined shea butter, any chance the cucumber glycerin would mix with the butter and if it doesn't, what do i do?
LisaLise said…
Hi Ifexki - Thanks for your kind words! If you want to mix an aqueous ingredient (the glycerine extract has water content) with anhydrous, you will need an emulsifier. Any time you add water to a product, you will also need to add a preservative. :)
Unknown said…
Hi Lisa, thanx for the answer to Ifexki's question above, follow up question, how much must be the ratio of water phase (aquaous) to anhydrous phase?
LisaLise said…
Hi Sthembile - this will depend on whether you want a cream or lotion or something in between. :)
Jyoti said…
Hello Lisa! Thank you for your wonderful experiments and tutorials! I want to make a hibiscus glycerite with dried flowers. Please guide to the ratio. Also do I need to rehydrate the flowers or can I use them in their dried form? Please help.
LisaLise said…
HI Jyoti - I think you would find my book about making glycerites very useful as it goes into details with calculation charts for all kinds of materials - both for self-preserving and glycerites with added preservative.
As for using dried materials, you will get best results by adding a bit of water and this information is also included in the calculation charts in the book :)
sannjana said…
Hi Lisa , I have started my journey in formulating natural skincare. Love your blogs and u inspire me so much. I have started making Glycerites and loving the process. Thank you so much .
LisaLise said…
Thank you kindly Sannjana - Enjoy your journey!
Anonymous said…
Why on earth would you ever use Steric acid in anything it's a pesticide made from cotton seed oil. That's just crazy because your defeating everything your trying to accomplish.
LisaLise said…
Hey there Anon - Not exactly sure who you are replying to? Stearic acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid.
Unknown said…
Hi Lisa

I started researching into making glycerites. I see you have chosen to use benzyl alcohol. Can other preservatives be used as well? And what would be your advice or recommendation when looking for the right preservative for food based glycerites?
LisaLise said…
HI Unknown - yes other preservatives can be used -- you'll be wanting broad spectrum and it doesn't hurt to look to preservation systems commonly used for foods. :)