Glycerin Benefits, Home Remedies and Side Effects

Glycerine is a water-soluble, clear, colorless, odorless, viscous, hygroscopic and sweet tasting liquid. Chemically, it is a trihydric alcohol, a three carbon alcohol. It is the backbone of the triglyceride molecule. Its chemical formula is C3H8O3. It is produced from animal fats, plants, soap making, hydrolysis and as an important byproduct of biodiesel production.

Glycerin was accidentally discovered in 1779 by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, the German Swedish chemist, while he was heating a mixture of olive oil and litharge (lead monoxide). He called glycerine the 'sweet principle of fat'. Later, a French chemist, Michel Eugène Chevreul, named it glycerine in 1811 after the Greek word, glykys, meaning sweet.

Names of Glycerine/ Glycerin

  • Glycerol
  • Glycerine
  • 1, 2, 3 –propanetriol
  • Propane-1, 2, 3-triol
  • trihydroxy propane
  • glycyl alcoho

Glycerin Properties

  • Melting point -17.8 °C
  • Boiling point (1 atm) 290 °C
  • Density (25 °C) 1.262 g/ml
  • Flashpoint (open cup) 176 °C
  • Solubility water, ethanol
  • Toxicity 20 mL/kg (oral)

Glycerin Production

Glycerine is found abundantly in nature in the form of triglycerides. Triglycerides is the chemical combinations of glycerine and fatty acids which are the principal constituents of almost all vegetable and animal fats and oils. It is component of all living cells. Intake of 100 grams of fat per day, human body would absorb and metabolize 10 grams of glycerine as mglycerides.

Industrially, it is produced by saponification, hydrolysis, of fats and oil.

  1. Sourced from fats and oils processing
  2. Saponification (soap making)
  3. Hydrolysis (fat splitting)
  4. Transesterification (biodiesel)

Product categories

Crude:75-90% glycerol


Types of Refined Glycerin

  1. 99.5% Technical Grad
  2. 96% USP (Vegetable-based/from plant sourse)
  3. 99.5% USP (Tallow-based/made from animal fat)
  4. 99.5% USP (Vegetable-based)
  5. USP is an abbreviation of U.S. Pharmacopeia. USP GLYCERINe is a clear, almost colorless product for uses requiring
  6. Glycerin of high purity with taste and odor characteristics desirable for pharmaceutical and food purposes.

Glycerine Medicinal Properties

  1. It is colorless, odorless, water soluble thick liquid.
  2. It is humectant or hygroscopic agent (ability of a substance to attract and hold water molecules from the surrounding environment) and used for moisturization.
  3. It is a demulcent. Demulcent is an agent that forms a soothing film over a mucous membrane and gives relief in minor pain and inflammation of the membrane.
  4. It is emollient and keeps the skin smooth and soft.
  5. It has excellent lubricating properties and imparts a desirable smoothness.
  6. It is antiseptic and analgesic.
  7. It is highly stable and water soluble.
  8. It is preserving agent.
  9. It is solvent, antifreeze and lubricant.
  10. It is biocompatible.
  11. It is nontoxic.

Glycerin Home Remedies

Glycerine, is used as a home remedy in variety of skin condition due to its nontoxic, non-irritating, demulcent, emollient, moisturizing and humectant properties. It is hygroscopic and also draws moisture from air.

Benefits for skin

  1. It provides a soothing effect and makes the skin soft and supple.
  2. It protects the skin.
  3. It prevents and treats skin dryness.
  4. It moisturizes the skin and hold the moisture.

For hardness, dryness and scaling just apply glycerin twice a day. The results will be visible in two days. The skin will become soft and smooth.

To clean facial skin, mix glycerin in rose water and apply on face. It can also be added to fuller's earth to make face mask. For facial skin, it is better to apply diluted glycerin.

In case of hard, cracked heels, apply glycerin and wear socks. This will soften the heels and prevents further drying.

For calluses (thickened and hardened part of the skin or soft tissue, especially in an area that has been subjected to friction), rub glycerin and cover it overnight.

For chapped lips, apply glycerin layer.

For improving the lip color, apply layer of glycerin and then rub lemon or lemon juice. Leave for 10-15 minutes and then wash off.

To exfoliate lips, combine some fresh lemon juice with a drop of glycerin. Apply to lips and leave on overnight. The lemon helps exfoliate skin and the glycerin moisturizes the lips.

Glycerin can be used as lip gloss. Just mix almond oil and glycerine in 1:2 ration and apply.

Application of glycerin in eyes causes tears.

Other Uses of Glycerine

Nitration of glycerine yield nitroglycerine which is an oily liquid that may explode when subjected to heat, shock or flame. The main use of nitroglycerin is in explosives such as dynamite and in propellants.

It is used as solvent, sweetener, and preservative in foods and beverages.

It is used as a solvent, moisturizers, and bodying agent in tinctures, ointments, and syrups. It is used for lubrication.

In some toothpaste glycerin is added.

It is used in manufacturing of skin creams and lotions, shaving creams deodorants, cosmetics, lipstick, mascara and soap.

Glycerine is used as solvent, fermentation substrate, sweetener, plasticizer, antifreeze, cosmetics, explosives, and preservative in industries.

A solution of alcohol and glycerine can be used as a wet dressing to keep a wound soft, maintain drainage and prevent infection.

It is used in preparations for the hair and scalp. In shampoos, glycerine helps retain moisture and delay evaporation. It tends to keep the hair softer and retains moisture. It is often included in the formula to prevent hair dryness.

It is ingredient of acne lotions, expectorants, eyewashes, nose sprays, gelatin capsules, contraceptive jellies and creams, ear drops and poison ivy solutions.


  1. Glycerine is nontoxic in the digestive system and sensitive membranes, except in very high concentrations when a dehydrating effect is noted.
  2. It is sticky and attracts dirt.
  3. For facial skin, it is better to first dilute it in rose water or water.
  4. Skin contact may cause mild irritation and eye contact may cause mild eye irritation and tears.
  5. In the event of eye contact, the eye should immediately be rinsed gently with tepid (body temperature) water.
  6. It is safe in topical formulations.
blog comments powered by Disqus