How is Glycerin used? Uses of Glycerol

Foodcom Experts
6 min reading
How is Glycerin used? Uses of Glycerol
Table of contents
  • Glycerin, also known as glycerol, is an organic chemical compound
    extracted from plant and animal sources or obtained synthetically.
  • It is highly hygroscopic, depending on its concentration it has moisturizing and lubricating properties or
    disinfecting and drying.
  • Glycerin is mainly used in the cosmetics industry, but also in the production of
    food, medicines, paints and many other products. It also has many uses in

Glycerin – what is it?

Glycerin is an organic chemical compound that belongs to the group of sugars. It is an alcohol
polyhydroxy – the simplest stable trihydroxy alcohol (triol). Glycerin is also called
also glycerol or less commonly – propane-1,2,3-triol. All these names are correct and are
used interchangeably.

Glycerin is a substance obtained most often from plant and animal sources by the
saponification of fats. It can also be obtained synthetically through the oxidation reaction of
propylene or as a byproduct of biofuel production. Naturally, glycerol is contained
not only in vegetable and animal fats, but also in some fruits and vegetables. It plays
also a key role in the physiology of animals living in cold climates, as it increases their tolerance to

Glycerin is widely used in the production of cosmetics, as well as in many other industries
industries, in medicine and households. How is glycerin used? Below we present its most popular uses!

Physical properties and chemical properties of glycerin

The chemical formula of glycerol is C 3 H 8 O 3 . Glycerin occurs in the form of a viscous, syrupy liquid,
which is colorless, transparent and oily to the touch. It has a sweet taste and mixes very well with
water. In the world of chemistry, it is the benchmark for the highest hydrophilicity. Its density is about 1.26 g/cm 3 and its
molar mass – 92.09 g/mol. Glycerin’s boiling point is 290°C, and its melting point is 18-
20°C. Due to its good solubility, glycerin often serves as a solvent for other
substances, including non-polar substances such as fats.

The most important characteristic of glycerol is that it is highly hygroscopic, meaning that it
attracts and retains moisture from the environment. For this reason, it is often used as a humectant in
moisturizing creams and other skin care products that help keep the skin’s
moisture. However, it should be noted that glycerin has moisturizing and lubricating properties
only in low concentrations, while in high concentrations, i.e. above 25%, it acts as a disinfectant and

Production of glycerin

Glycerin can be obtained naturally or synthetically. The process of producing natural
glycerin begins with the hydrolysis of fats, resulting in a mixture of fatty acids
fatty acids and glycerin. The glycerin is then separated from the fatty acids by means of
distillation or other refining processes. Plant sources of glycerin are usually soybeans,
palm fat or coconut oil.

Synthetically, glycerol can be obtained from propene by chlorination, which produces
allyl chloride. This compound is then oxidized to dichlorohydrin, which reacts with a strong
base, forming epichlorohydrin. The product of its hydrolysis is precisely glycerol. It can also be
obtained as a by-product in the production of biofuels.

What is glycerol used for? Applications of glycerol

Glycerol is widely used in industry, mainly due to its strong hygroscopic properties. It is used primarily in the production of cosmetics, but also as a preservative – because it retains water, prevents cosmetics or food from drying out, and inhibits the growth of microorganisms. Glycerol is also used in industry
to increase the viscosity of products and as a solvent for other substances, as well as an intermediate.

Glycerin – functions in cosmetics

The cosmetics industry is the area of the most common industrial-scale use of glycerin.
This compound is mainly an ingredient in cosmetics that have moisturizing and
lubricating properties. Its purpose is to moisturize and regenerate dry skin, so it is used in face creams, as well as in hand and foot creams, lipsticks and body lotions. It is also present in cosmetics for mature skin, as it smooths wrinkles and tightens the skin. In addition, it makes the skin more elastic, soothes irritation and inflammation, as well as

Glycerin is an ingredient in glycerin soap, which is used by people with delicate and sensitive skin. Thanks to its moisturizing properties, this type of soap prevents the skin from drying out. It attracts moisture from the deeper layers of the skin, slowing or preventing excessive

Glycerol is also used in hair care. Glycerin is recommended for hair that is weak, brittle and tends to frizz. It is often added to conditioners to strengthen and smooth hair, hair masks and serums for ends.

Glycerin can also improve the texture of cosmetics. Adding it to skin and hair care products can make them less sticky and easier to spread. In addition, glycerin prevents products from drying out and fats from crystallizing, and helps fats mix with water.

Applications in food production

Glycerol is also used in the food industry. It is found in products as an ingredient labeled E422. It is used to adjust and maintain the right level of moisture in products, such as preventing bread from drying out. Due to
its ability to bind water, glycerol is also a preservative, as it leads to a reduction in the growth of harmful microorganisms. Because of its sweet taste, glycerol is also used as a sweetener, and as a thickening agent, such as in the production of liqueurs.

Use of glycerin in medicine and pharmacology

In the pharmaceutical industry, glycerin is mainly used to make laxatives. This is how the substance works when administered both orally and rectally.

Glycerin can also be found in eye drops and ear hygiene preparations, as well as in preparations for the treatment of skin diseases, wounds and burns. Adding glycerol to medicines improves their taste and smoothness. The compound is also one of the main components of nitroglycerin, a compound used as a vasodilator used in patients with coronary artery disease
coronary artery disease. In medicine, glycerol is also used to preserve sperm, as it protects sperm from freezing. As a dietary supplement, glycerol is also used by athletes to reduce water loss during intense workouts.

Industrial uses

Glycerol is often used in industry as an intermediate or solvent for other substances. It is used, for example, in the liquids (liquids) used in e-cigarettes. Glycerin is heated by an atomizer, which creates an aerosol that delivers nicotine to the user. Glycerin also plays an important role in the production of antifreeze for textiles and waxes. It is also used in the production of resins, paints, waxes, brake and cooling fluids, cleaning agents and various fabrics, as well as in
tanning industry for drying leather. Glycerol is also found in explosives and as an intermediate in industrial chemical syntheses.

Glycerin in cosmetics

Glycerin market

Glycerin available on the market can be a product of various types. Natural glycerin, most often produced from vegetable oils, is recommended for cosmetics. It is often a compound derived from soap production. High-purity synthetic glycerin, on the other hand, is often used in industry or, for example, in the production of explosives. Synthetic glycerin of
lower purity, such as that obtained as a byproduct of biodiesel production and then purified, is technical or distilled glycerin. The most common is drugstore glycerin, available in pharmacies. It contains about 85% pure glycerin and 15% water. Pharmaceutical glycerin used in the production of medicines, food grade used in food production or feed grade used in feed production have a minimum of 99% pure glycerol in their composition. Tested glycerin is available at the Foodcom store.

Home use of glycerin

Glycerin is a readily available product that has also found many uses in our households over the years. Glycerol is a substance that rarely causes allergies and has harmless side effects only in large doses. As a result, it is used not only as a household laxative, but also in the production of natural cosmetics. It is easy
using it to create a moisturizing scrub or skin tonic, or even a glycerin soap. It will also work well for manicures to soften the cuticles at the nails.

Another home use of glycerin is to keep our home clean. Adding glycerin when washing windows or mirrors will ensure that these areas do not fog up as easily. Glycerol also prevents dust from collecting and makes surfaces easier to polish. It gives a shine to
to slick objects and furniture, especially dark ones. It is also often used to refinish rubber or plastic items, allowing them to be visually refreshed. Glycerin is also used to protect clothes and keep them soft.

As we can see, glycerin has a wide variety of uses both in industry and in domestic use. In addition to the above uses, glycerin is also used to make more effective soap bubbles and as an additive to molasses when smoking shisha. Its affordable price and easy sourcing make it an extremely popular and versatile substance readily used in industry as well. We especially recommend the glycerin available in the Foodcom store.

Learn about “Glycerin”
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