Old School Beauty Basics: How to Make Glycerin


When we began road-testing top DIY toothpaste recipes here at Old School, we found that almost all calledhow to make glycerin for beauty products for glycerin, an ingredient that demanded immediate Googling to discover if we could make it from scratch. What’s with glycerin? It’s a soap-making byproduct with antibacterial properties, but it’s often made with animal fat derivatives, which isn’t really our thing. So, we figured out how to make our own veggie version with coconut oil, opening up a whole world of kitchen pantry beauty concoctions (and gave us a bonus bar of soap).

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lye
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • large saucepan
  • large bowl
  • safety goggles
  • rubber gloves
  • candy thermometer
  • spoon
  • airtight glass bottle
  • mold for soap

Here’s how to make glycerin:

  1. Put on safety goggles and rubber gloves. Pour one cup of coconut oil and one cup olive oil into largeMaking glycerin for natural beauty saucepan and place on stovetop on high heat. Carefully add two tbsp lye and one cup cold water.
  2. Using a cooking thermometer to maintain temperature, heat mixture in saucepan to 125 degrees F, stirring regularly until the mixture is thoroughly blended. Reduce the heat to 100 degrees F.
  3. Stir the mixture with a spoon for up to 15 minutes, watching for "tracing," i.e., when the mixture thickens enough to maintain the outline of the spoon’s path for several seconds.
  4. Once tracing occurs, add a 1/2 cup salt and allow mixture to cool. Once cooled, soap will be curdled on top and glycerin will be left under it. Skim off the soap and pour it into a soap mold (win!).
  5. Pour the glycerin into a glass bottle and seal tightly. Store in the refrigerator, where it will last for 3-4 weeks.

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5/22/2018 7:51:02 PM

I've seen questions but not answers. Is this food grade?

2/14/2016 1:40:42 PM

Do you know how to make food grade vegetable glycerin from coconut oil? Every place I look mentions lye. I cannot find out how to do it anywhere

8/22/2015 9:11:21 PM

I've tried this twice... and the time I tried it this time and have a lot of oils left over... and I don't think the temps are right... or stirring with a spoon! I used my stick blender and heated up even more. I put what was left over in the fridge and 80% was solid oils. I was left with about 1/4 cup of very thin maybe glycerin.

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