August 17, 2020

Glycerin 101

Glycerin is one of my favorite additives when I'm dyeing flowers (if I'm venturing outside of my normal water to paint mixture)! But – I often get questions about what glycerin does and how to use it properly. So I wanted to answer all of your questions and give you our favorite glycerin tips!

If you are a visual learner, check out the YouTube video I did on this topic! If you want an easy to follow guidelines blog on glycerin, keep reading below!

What is glycerin?

Glycerin is an ingredient that is widely used in both skincare products and cosmetics. In fact, there’s a good chance you have glycerin on you right now! It’s derived from vegetable oils and is used as a hydrating agent. 

There are a lot of glycerin options out there so here is a link to my preferred brand!

What glycerin can do for your wood flowers

If you paint your flowers without glycerin, you’ll notice that they tend to dry out. They can be a little brittle and tender and can even crack the flowers if you’re too rough with them.

Adding glycerin to your paint mixture will give your flowers more softness and pliability. You can even squish a flower with glycerin and it will be fine! Just be careful not to overdo your glycerin. Then, your flowers will feel like they’re never finished drying and may have an oily texture on the outside. 

The OYL preferred ratio

After extensive testing, I have found that my preferred water to glycerin ratio is 8 to 1. I have experimented with more glycerin, played with less glycerin and for the desired effect of soft and pliable, 8 to 1 water to glycerin is the way to go!

How Do I Use It?

Method 1: mixing it with your paint

Add ½ cup of glycerin to 4 cups of water in a resealable container. Remember: glycerin is thick and syrupy so you may need a popsicle stick to get everything out!

Mix it all around thoroughly. You’ll see the mixture start to get cloudy. That’s the glycerin mixing with the water. 

Once you’re done, use this in place of water when mixing your paint (I prefer acrylic but you can also use latex paint). Then, dip-dye as you normally would for soft, pliable flowers!

A few quick notes: 

  • I like to shake up the mixture before I’m about to use it to make sure everything is evenly distributed. 
  • You can use distilled water if you want, but tap water is fine. 
  • Room temperature water is a-ok. There’s no need to boil or heat the water before mixing.

Give the flowers 24 hours to dry before use.

Method 2: a post-mix spray

Suppose you dip-dyed your flowers without using a glycerin mixture. Later, you realized that your flowers were a little brittle and tender. What do you do?

You can make a glycerin mix using the same ratio as we’ve posted above (8:1) and put it in a spray bottle! Take your flower and spray it liberally. Don’t worry about over-spraying: we haven’t found the glycerin spray mixture to make the paint run or transfer.

And don’t worry if you get some on your hands! It will actually make your hands feel nice and soft (crafty bonus right there!)

Around 24 hours later, your flowers should be dry and ready for crafting!

Things to remember

Don't be afraid to experiment! While I found that the 8:1 ratio was perfect for me, feel free to experiment with your own ratios! Just remember that adding more glycerin could increase your drying time, and adding too much could make it feel like the flowers are never quite dry.

We have only ever used vegetable based glycerin. Another alternative some sola artists like is using dawn dish soap as a softener. We didn't have the best results with that so prefer to use glycerin as our softener.

A super-important note: your airbrush is not made for glycerin so please don't use them together! Airbrushing doesn’t saturate your flowers in the same way dip-dyeing does so airbrushing should already make your flowers softer and closer to the texture of a raw flower. If you do want to use glycerin with airbrushed flowers, simply use the spray method detailed above after the paint has dried.

And that’s it! Here’s hoping all your flowers are soft, pliable, and squishy in the future. Happy crafting!

**If the listing is for an amazon link this is an affiliate link.  It costs you nothing but OYL will get a small percentage from the sale if you decide to purchase.  Thank you!