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What is Glycerine?

11/14/2013 3:14:11 PM


Glycerine, which is also known as glycerol, is an organic compound of hydrogen oxygen and carbon. Glycerol is usually produced for industrial purposes. Some of the industries that use glycerine are the soap and food industry where fats and oils are extracted and used to produce glycerine. Glycerine can be produced using vegetable oil or animal oils. If vegetable oil is used then the glycerine will be known as vegetable glycerine. The chemical structure of both glycerines remains the same. However, since glycerine is often used in foods, vegetable glycerine is manufactured for vegetarians to consume. Apart from being used in the food production industry as sweeteners or other ingredients, glycerine is also commonly used in cosmetic and beauty products.

The chemical compound structure of glycerine consists of three hydrogen atoms attached to three carbon atoms and hydroxyl atoms. The three hydroxyl atoms are the ones that from bonds of hydrogen, this gives glycerine a slightly thicker viscosity similar to syrup. Although the glycerine is quite viscous, it is still able to easily dissolve in water. In chemical terms, due to the presence of hydroxyl atoms, glycerine is technically an alcohol. But since glycerine provides calories, it is classified as a carbohydrate as alcohol provides protein and fats. Glycerine does not solidify easily and if it is in solid form, it will melt at a temperature of about 20 degrees Celsius. If glycerol is mixed with water, then the freezing point of water may be lowered even more depending on the amount of glycerine that is mixed. Thus, glycerine is often mixed with liquids to be stored in laboratory freezers.

Glycerine is known to be the basic structure of many oils, fats and lipids. There are a number of methods that can be used to extract glycerine from these oil and fats. Most of the times glycerine is extracted from animal fat, but there are also manufacturing methods that use vegetable oil as well. The extraction process begins with the fat being mixed with a strong alkali such as sodium hydroxide. Heat is then applied to the mixture to start the reaction. The products of the process are soap and glycerine. However, the glycerine is usually mixed with water. Evaporators are used to start the distillation process to separate the glycerine from the mixture.

Vegetable glycerine on the other hand can be extracted directly without adding other substances. Most of the times, either palm oil are coconut oil is used. The oil is mixed with water and strong heat is applied. The molecules will then separate and mix with the water. The same distillation process is then used to separate the vegetable glycerine from the water. However, vegetable glycerine is not 100% pure as it contains about 0.3 percent of water.


Glycerine is most commonly used in the food production industry. Firstly, glycerine is used as it naturally has a sweet taste and it has a lower amount of calories than other sweeteners such as sugars. Glycerine is also used when the food requires moisture as glycerine is able to absorb water from the air. Glycerine also does not decay teeth and lowers the effect of sugar when it enters the blood.

Vegetable glycerine is often used in the medical industry for medicine. For example, vegetable glycerine is usually added to cough syrups as it not only enhances the taste but also soothes the throat. Vegetable glycerine can also be used to treat many skin and gum diseases.

Thus, glycerine has many useful properties that may benefit many people. It is not only healthier than normal sweeteners, but they also have healing properties. However, due to all the advantages glycerine is quite expensive.


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