Vegetable glycerin is also known as vegetable glycerol. It is a carbohydrate that is usually derived from plant oils. It is used as a sweetener and as an ingredient in a number of cosmetic products. Vegetable glycerin is also used in place of alcohol to extract botanicals.
Glycerin is an organic compound composed of three carbon atoms, hydrogen atoms, and three OH groups. These OH groups form hydrogen bonds with water, slowing down its movement and giving liquid glycerin the property of a syrup. It is also resistant to freezing, a property used in storing sensitive liquids, such as enzymes, in laboratory freezers.
Food-grade vegetable glycerin is 99.7% pure, with the remaining 0.3% being water. It has a sweet taste, but is metabolized differently than sugar and does not raise blood sugar levels.
Glycerin is used in foods marketed as being low in carbohydrates to keep them sweet and moist. It also does not contribute to bacterial tooth decay.
Vegetable glycerin is also used as a substitute for alcohol, in making botanical extracts. The advantage of this is that people who do not want to be exposed to alcohol can still have access to the botanical products. The disadvantage is that the resulting products have a much shorter shelf life.
Its solubility in alcohol and water had led to great utility in the manufacturing of products. Glycerin is used in a large number of cosmetic and household products, such as toothpastes and shampoo. It is also a component of glycerin soap, which is often used by people with sensitive skin. This soap acts as moisturizer to prevent the skin from drying out. For this reason, glycerin lotion is also popular.
There are also medical uses for vegetable glycerin. Glycerin suppositories are used as laxatives. It can also be used as a topical remedy for a number of skin problems, including psoriasis, rashes, burns, bedsores, and cuts. Glycerin is also employed to treat gum disease, as it kills associated bacterial colonies.
While glycerin can be made as a by-product of soap that is made from animal fats, it can also be made from plants. The glycerol backbone is part of the basic structure of many lipids. Vegetable glycerin is made from the oils and fats of a plant-based ingredient, generally coconut or palm oil. The oil is heated to a high temperature under pressure with water. The glycerin backbone splits off from the fatty acids, and is absorbed by the water, from which it is then isolated and distilled.