How to preserve moss.

I’d like to start us off today with a poem.

Moss is soft
Moss is green
Moss is where the wormies scream
when you on them step
by accident

by karen
copyright 2014

I’m not sure how much screaming they actually do when you step on them considering they don’t make a sound when you accidentally cut them in  half with a shovel, but poems are meant to evoke emotions more than truth.  Like political campaign commercials.

So moss. That’s what we’re dealing with here today on The Art of Doing Stuff.  I’ve been preserving moss for about 8 years now.

You’ve probably all either seen or bought Reindeer Moss (which is actually a lichen).  It’s a soft, fluffy moss used as filler in planters and flower arrangements.  It’s usually died a lime green colour.  Nice, but not completely natural.  Like my hair.

Preserved reindeer moss is also very expensive.  Like my hair.  So when we went up to the cottage a 8 or so years ago and I saw reindeer moss growing all over the cottage property I figured I’d grab some and figure out how to preserve it once I got home.

Turns out it wasn’t very hard, but finding reliable instructions to do it was.   Therefore, because I like to share all that is good, easy and crafty in this world I have for you today 2 easy ways to preserve any moss.

I’ve used this technique with both Reindeer moss (which we have established is indeed actually a lichen) and regular button moss.

 Title

The first method I’m going to show you is the one I can absolutely guarantee works. I used this particular technique 8 years ago to preserve some Reindeer moss and some button moss and both types are still as soft and pliable as the day I picked them.

You’ll need Glycerin and Methyl Hydrate (or Denatured Alcohol).

Glycerin is available on the shelf in drugstores ($5.99)

Methyl Hydrate (or Denatured Alcohol) is available in hardware stores (can’t remember how much … but it’s cheap)

How To Preserve Moss 1

Pick the twigs and leaves out of your moss and send the party goers home.
How To Preserve Moss

Mix together 2 parts Glycerin with one part Methyl Hydrate.

How To Preserve Moss 3

 

Stir it up with your tongue.  Just joking.  Please don’t do that.

 

How To Preserve Moss 4

 

Place your moss in the bowl and leave it for 10 minutes or so to absorb the mixture.  If only half of the moss is being covered just flip it after 5 minutes.

How To Preserve Moss 5

After the 10 minutes are up, remove the moss, squeeze out the excess mixture and then transfer the moss to another container to drain.  Once it’s drained, place on a paper towel for more drainage.

Repeat this process keeping new moss in the mixture and draining the already soaked moss.

 

How To Preserve Moss 6

The moss may feel like it’s going a little bit crunchy at first. That’s just the methyl hydrate removing the moisture from the moss. Don’t worry. It’ll turn soft again. Don’t fiddle with it and crunch it up. Just leave it.

Leave your moss on towels (paper or otherwise) to dry for the next couple of days. Once you can feel it’s soft and pliable but not wet, put it in bags or plastic containers until you want to use it. It will stay soft and pliable forever now.

The second technique which I tried and worked (but can’t guarantee it will keep moss soft for years) is slightly different.

For this method of preserving moss you need Glycerin and hot water.

One part glycerin, 2 parts HOT water.

How To Preserve Moss 7

Mix together the Glycerin and hot water. The point of using hot water is it will help the moss more easily absorb the glycerin.

Put a batch of moss into the mixture and leave it for an hour (or until the mixture has completely cooled)

How To Preserve Moss 8

You may need to weigh the moss down to ensure it’s completely covered by the hot water/glycerin solution. Just put another bowl over the moss and weigh it down with a brick.

How To Preserve Moss 9

If you don’t have a brick, just use whatever you have handy.

How To Preserve Moss 10

To repeat this process with another batch of moss you have to reheat your water and glycerin solution. I dumped mine into an old tupperware container and just heated it up in the microwave. You could also reheat it over the stove.

The second technique using only hot water and glycerin has kept the moss soft for a few days now, but I have no idea if it will hold up as well as the glycerin/methyl hydrate solution over time. For now, so far so good.

Like I said, this technique will work with any moss.

How To Preserve Moss 11

Mossy moss
You’re soft and squishy
With this solution
foreverishy.

by Karen
copyright 2014

 

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

 

169 Comments

  1. Amanda Hollenbach says:

    I recently tried the glycerin and hot water mixture to dye some moss and the smell was so bad it was making me literally gag. I was wondering if the methyl hydrate and glycerin mixture produces the same awful smell? I’ve had my dyed moss sitting in my shed for several days now hoping the smell would dissipate but so far I’ve had no luck. It still smells terrible. Any advice or guidance you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Amanda! The smell will go away but the moss does always have a tiny bit of that weird smell. I don’t know what it is, it’s the smell of the moss, not the glycerine and water (obviously because those things don’t have an odour). I’ve noticed it as well, but it doesn’t bother me that much. Especially if I’m not intentionally smelling it to see how awful it is, lol. Just leave it in your shed for now and keep checking on the smell. It will get better. ~ karen!

  2. Amanda Hollenbach says:

    I recently tried the glycerin and hot water mixture to dye some moss. It smelled so bad it was making me gag. The moss has been sitting in my shed and I’ve been patiently waiting to see if the smell dissipates. So far I’ve had no luck with that. I was wondering if the methyl hydrate mixture smells that way too? Or how you would combat the awful smell? Any help or guidance you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

  3. Michelle says:

    Can the glycerine, methyl hydrate, water mixture be used over and over again? Seems the hot water will no longer be hot so solution needs to be disposed of after each use. Also, is there a way to safely dispose of the mixture besides hauling it to a hazardous waste facility? Thanks!

  4. Sandy says:

    Jeeze! What have I done wrong? Tried glycerin and water yesterday and my moss smells so bad that I don’t want it in the house! Have you made that mistake? If so, what did I do wrong and how can I avoid doing that again?

  5. Patti says:

    Can this be used to plant live succulents in that need watered?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Patti. I don’t grow a lot of succulents so I couldn’t say. What I usually say in cases like this is – give it a shot. If it works, great, if not, then at least you know. :) ~ karen!

  6. Heather says:

    Now stir it with your tongue had me cracking up. Thank you so much. Perfect information!

  7. L R Belci says:

    Can you use this technique on wood mushrooms?

  8. Joe Wuts says:

    Can you dye the moss say with fabric dyes? How long does the colors hold?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joe! You *can* use fabric dye but the colours often come out unnatural or don’t absorb evenly. Using a flower dye that works through absorption is the best way to colour it. ~ karen!

  9. Saskia says:

    Ohmyword did this ever make me laugh out loud!!!!! Thanks so much!!!! I am a chemist and what got me was the line, ‘Stir with your tongue’ ha ha ha!

    This is a great post. Ingenious. And I never connect on these things. :-)

  10. Lisa says:

    The green moss growing here in Connecticut will regenerate if it becomes dried out and faded. Simply place it (dirt-covered, dried-out root side down) onto moist soil and the roots will soak up the rain or moisture and it will turn green and start to grow again! Pretty weird, huh?

  11. Ginny says:

    Has anyone saved the glycerin and denatured alcohol solution for future use?

  12. Steelko says:

    I would like to ask if you need to dry the moss first or you can preserve the live moss. And the second question is can I use Isopropyl alcohol instead of Denaturated alcohol?
    Thank you :)

  13. Mina Gourlay says:

    Ok so its 2021 and I’ve jist tead your post which is brilliant. Thanks. I was wondering though if you managed yo see a doctor to sort out your issues with your nether regions….i mean you had alot of meds in that photo!! 😂 great post. Thanks for sharing

  14. cas says:

    Now that it has been more than a few years, would you say the moss held up over time with the hot water mix?

    • Karen says:

      Yes it’s still a success Cas, but I will say that some of mine dried out, but anything I kept in an airtight bin while not in use is still perfect. ~ karen!

  15. Suz Quin says:

    Hi Karen,
    Loved how simple to makes this seems. I was looking for this for a while :)
    Just one practical question… Because indeed the intention is to keep as a decorative piece for years to come, considering it will be exposed to dust, for example, how do you clean it? I guess vacuuming would work but perhaps it would also damage the delicate foliage.
    Any tips?
    Thank you very much :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Suz! I’ve actually never even thought of cleaning it, lol. I don’t keep mine out year round, just when I want it for certain floral or other arrangements. When I’m done it goes back into an airtight box. If I *were* to clean it, I’m not sure what I’d do. I’d probably rinse it under water. Just take a small bit to test it first. ~ karen!

      • Suz Quin says:

        Haha! Great, thank you! My idea was to create a mural with the moss. So with that in mind, I think I will consider fixing the moss on a surface that can be wet if needed, in case a need to mist it even now and then to remove the dust :)
        Thank you for your quick reply! Keep up the great blog!

  16. Taya says:

    So excited to try this out! Buying preserved moss is so expensive.

    One question….if I use this moss as a base around mounted live plants, when I water them will the glycerine and methyl hydrate leech from the moss into the live plants and harm it? Or is it once the moss is dry it should be fine?

    Thank you for your time!

  17. Terra Lee says:

    Hello,
    I see this post is from a few years ago, but alas, your post keeps popping up as one of the only means for searching out the use of methyl hydrate and glycerin.
    Wondering if this method has worked for other foliage such as ferns and leaves? Wondering if this method helps to maintain colour more than just glycerin and water. I am obsessed with finding out more information on these techniques and its not easy to find! Hoping some like-minds can help answer some questions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Art of Doing Stuff