How to Preserve Leaves

Have you ever wondered how to preserve leaves? We tried out two different methods- one using glycerin and one using wax paper. Here are our results and how you can try it yourself!

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 How to Preserve Leaves (with glycerin and waxed paper)~ BuggyandBuddy.com

Once the first local trees started changing colors, I went out with my family to collect some beautiful autumn leaves that had fallen. We brought the leaves home and read up on different ways to preserve them. We settled on trying out one method using glycerin and another method using wax paper. Our goal was to try to preserve the color so we could use the preserved leaves in some fall crafts! (This post contains affiliate links.)

How to Preserve Leaves with Glycerin

Materials

  • Glycerin (We found ours in the first-aid section of our local drug store.)
  • Water
  • Two baking dishes, containers, or trays that can stack together
  • Fall leaves

Directions

1. Place your leaves in one of your containers. (We used a large plastic storage container.)

2. Mix 1 part glycerin and 2 parts water. (Since we used a fairly large container, we mixed 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of glycerin.)

3. Pour the mixture over the leaves.

4. Stack the second container on top of the first container so that it keeps the leaves submerged in the mixture.

how to preserve leaves glycerin

5. Let the leaves soak for at least 3 days.

6. Remove the leaves from the mixture and blot them dry with a paper towel. Then let them completely dry. 

 how preserve leaves with glycerin

 

How to Preserve Leaves with Wax Paper

Materials

  • Iron
  • Wax Paper
  • Two thin towels
  • Surface to iron on
  • Fall leaves

Directions

1. Turn your iron on a high setting that does not use steam.

2. Lay one towel down onto your ironing surface. Lay a piece of wax paper on the towel.

3. Place your fall leaves onto the wax paper in a single layer.

4. Lay another piece of wax paper on top of the leaves.

5. Place the second towel on top of the wax paper.

6. Iron the leaves for about 20-30 seconds. 

7. Flip everything over and iron the other side for another 20-30 seconds.

8. Let everything cool.

9. Remove the towel. Slowly and carefully peel off the top layer of wax paper. Then gently peel the leaves off the second piece of wax paper.

*We placed these leaves inside a heavy book while we waited for our other leaves to finish in the glycerin. 

 how to press leaves

 The Results

The kids and I decided we liked the feel of the leaves soaked in glycerin the most. They were soft and could be gently bent without breaking. And we liked the shininess of the leaves ironed in wax paper. 

We found that some leaves kept their color longer than others. Our deep red leaves have kept their color for over a month now! The pinkish leaves also seemed to keep their color fairly well. The yellow leaves we had found didn’t keep their color well with either method. They eventually turned a light brown. 

 We used our leaves to make a fall leaf mobile. We simply tied our leaves to an old embroidery hoop using beading thread.

Trying it Yourself

I would definitely recommend trying these methods at home or in the classroom with your kids. It’s such a fun activity and you can even turn it into a wonderful learning experience. Take a walk with the kids and collect some of your own fall leaves. You can then compare the texture and color of the leaves after trying out both methods. 

 

Fun Ways to Use Pressed Leaves

  •  Have you read the book, Leaf Man, by Lois Ehlert? It’s one of our favorite fall books! You can use your leaves to create some leaf creatures just like in the story!
  • Why not use your thread your leaves to make some beautiful fall decorations!
  • We used our leaves to make a fall leaf mobile. We simply tied our leaves to an old embroidery hoop using beading thread.

How to Preserve Leaves (with glycerin and waxed paper)

Be sure not to miss these other fall activities for kids on Buggy and Buddy:

Fizz, Pop, Bang! 40 Playful Science and Math Activities for Kids

Comments

  1. Love the colours of those leaves. And that mobile is perfection!

  2. The glycerin method is on my Fall bucket l list because we have not yet ever done it. Thanks for making it seem easy. 🙂

  3. This is so cool! Thanks for sharing! We’ll definitely try it out! Pinning

    -Michelle @TheGraciousWife.com

  4. What a charming idea. I’ll pin this for when it’s Autumn again in Australia. x

  5. I am pinning this and planning my trip into the mountains next weekend to get the leaves!! Thanks for the instructions 🙂

  6. Do you think dipping them in beeswax would work to preserve the color? I’ve not tried it and was wondering if you have?

    • I haven’t tried it either, Christina, but have it on my list of to-do’s! I know I’ve heard of it being done. Please let me know if you end up trying it. I’d love to hear all about the results!

  7. can the leaves be laminated once it is passed through glycerine or wax paper ?

  8. Geen leaves will not stay green because the Chlorophyll die. The leaves that go red and orange do so because of the absence of chlorophyll (they have died) the colours left over are different from plant to plant.

  9. This is so neat! We have beautiful leaves here in New Hampshire right now! Thanks for linking up at the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop! We hope you stop by again next week!

  10. Love the glycerin idea! I tried the waxed paper one but I don’t think it worked as the leaves are still brittle … not sure what went wrong really.
    Great site thanks for sharing!

    • Sorry the waxed paper method didn’t turn out for you. Did you start with fairly fresh fallen leaves? Our glycerin ones remained quite soft, the wax paper leaves are more brittle, but smooth because of the wax!

  11. Beautiful! I love the embroidery hoop idea so much! I have an avid little leaf collector on my hands, always fun to find new (and pretty) things to do with his growing stash of leaves! 🙂

  12. I love this post Chelsey! I didn’t know either of these methods and the pics are gorgeous. I love that mobile. I wonder what other things could be preserved in glycerin. Maybe our dead bug collection? Hmm….Thanks for the inspiration!

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