How to Make a Self-Preserving Glycerite with Lemongrass

When I posted this photo on my Instagram feed, a slew of questions and comments about 'why I was working with onion' followed.

(insert wry smile)

Even though I love experimenting with ingredients for cosmetics, onion has never (yet) been on my to-try list.

I can see how the ingredient above could easily be mistaken for onion, but it is lemongrass.

Fresh lemongrass has a wonderfully vibrant 'lemony-green' scent that is a beautiful addition to many cosmetics products. Happily, glycerine has a magical built-in ability to not only capture, but to retain the fragrance as well as the water-soluble components of the plant.

Comparing the scent of lemongrass glycerite to essential oil, I'd describe the glycerite as a 'rounder, more gentle' scent - not unlike lemongrass hydrosol.

Today, I'm going to show you how I made this lemongrass glycerine extract with only 2 ingredients.

Self Preserving

The previous glycerite how-to's on this blog all have the addition of preservative, but for this small batch, we're utilizing the inherent preservative power of glycerine and making a self-preserving glycerite.

For a successful result, it is important to be precise during every step of preparation, weighing of ingredients, and also being meticulous about choosing and using quality ingredients.

And here's what you need to make this extract:
  1. Fresh lemongrass (choose the best: quality ingredients make for quality results)
  2. Glycerine / glycerin / glycerol (be sure the grade is suitable for use in cosmetics)
The only water being added to this glycerite is the water that remains after rinsing the lemongrass.

Fresh lemongrass has an average water content of approximately 80%.

Necessary Items

  • Sanitized glass container with tight-fitting lid
  • Vegetable grinder or chopping knife
  • Distilled / demineralised water
  • Container for your glycerite
  • Latex gloves

The Batch

  • Glycerine: 195 grams / 6.88 ounces
  • Fresh lemongrass: 55 grams / 1.94 ounces


  1. Rinse lemongrass thoroughly in distilled / demineralised water and transfer to a clean tea towel to soak up any excess moisture. 
  2. Chop and lightly crush the lemongrass. Alternatively, pulse a few times in a (clean) grinder.
  3. Weigh and add lemongrass to container
  4. Weigh and add glycerine
  5. Place lid on container
  6. Place container away from direct light and heat and let steep for 6 - 14 days
  7. Agitate container gently daily until it is time to strain. Be sure the lemongrass is submerged after agitating. 

Work Tip: Good Manufacturing practice is important. Be sure your workspace and tools are sanitized and the area is clean and free of pets and children.

Straining and Yield

When the mixture is ready for straining, the lemongrass will start looking 'spent'. Some describe it as 'tired-looking'.

Strain through muslin or double layer of cheesecloth and check the liquid. If it doesn't look clear enough to your liking, strain an additional time. Remember to put on latex gloves before squeezing the cloth to extract the final liquid.

Transfer the glycerite to a clean bottle (clear is ideal) and store dark and cool (refrigerated) until use.

Yield after straining: 140 ml  /  4.73 fluid ounces

How Shall We Use It?

Glycerites are incredibly versatile. You can replace glycerine with a glycerite in most cosmetics formulas.

Lemongrass is a natural astringent and has an ideal scent for cleansers of all types. This glycerite would be a great addition to a gel-based face cleanser for oily or combination skin. 
If you want to try one of my formulas, you'll find a formula for Shower Gel with Lemongrass Glycerite (pictured here) in my latest book – The Art of Making Glycerites for Cosmetics.

The book also shows you how to calculate your own batches – either self-preserving or with the addition of a preservative – using all kinds of different materials.

Shelf Life of Glycerites

It is generally recommended to use a glycerite within 6 months of making it (counting from the day the infusion is started).

If you make and store a glycerite in optimal conditions, you may find it lasts quite a bit longer than the suggested 6 month limit.

That said, it doesn't take much 'side-stepping' for a glycerite to go wonky either. I have some quite old self-preserved glycerites that are still good but have also experienced glycerites with preservative that went wonky long before the suggested use by date.

Top Tip for Optimal Success: follow good manufacturing practice every step of the way.

Extra (very important) Tip: Enjoy yourself and have fun with it!

More Info

Production and Evaluation of nontraditional products from Lemongrass
Scientific Basis for Thearapeutic use of Lemongrass (NCBI)
Glycerine, Glycerites and Preservative Power (this blog)
Why Glycerites Need a Preservative (this blog)
FDA Good manufacturing practice draft
Good Manufacturing Practice by Ecomundo