Glycerin, also known as glycerol, is a poly compound. It is colorless, odorless, non-toxic, and has a sweet taste. Besides, it is also found in lipids and is usually obtained from animal and plant sources. Glycerin contains hydroxyl groups in its structure, and therefore it is water-soluble and hygroscopic in nature.
Glycerin is produced through saponification and hydrolysis of triglycerides.
1. Uses of glycerin
Glycerol has propelled the growth of many industries. It is used for industrial applications, in the cosmetics industry, in the production of synthetic and detergents, in the pharmaceutical industry, food industry, and personal care preparation, among other industries. Therefore it is an important compound.
Some of the uses of glycerin are discussed below;
2. In a cosmetic industry
Glycerin’s sweet-smelling aroma, ability to retain moisture for a long period of time and its emollient properties make it one of the ingredients in many cosmetics products. It is used in making products like lotions, make-ups, creams, and moisture-control reagents. Glycerin also plays an important in the cosmetic product by preventing them from drying.
3. In the food industry
In the food industry, viscous glycerin liquid is used as humectants and as a food sweetener. Glycerin is added to food as a flavor so as to improve the taste of the food. Adding glycerin to food, it does not only improve the taste of the food but also its viscosity and texture.
Glycerin is also used as a preservative and as a sugar substitute. It is used together with water to preserve some plants leaves from getting bad easily. As a sugar substitute, its sweetness can be used to serve in place of sugar. One advantage of using glycerin as a sugar substitute is that it does not promote the growth of bacteria that attacks teeth.
Glycerol is an important ingredient in the making of pharmaceutical products. In the making of tablets drugs, glycerin is used to the coating layer. The coating layer of drugs made by glycerin always has a sweet taste and can be swallowed easily. Glycerin can also be used in making laxatives due to their sweet-smelling aroma.
5. Production of electronic cigarette liquid
Glycerin is used in making the e-liquid, a liquid that is used to make electronic cigarettes. Glycerin is used together with propylene glycol to make the e-liquid. When the mixture of glycerin and propylene glycol is heated with a coiler, usually an atomizer, it produces an aerosol that helps to deliver nicotine to the users.
6. In the film industry
Glycerin is in the film industry where wet filming scenes are involved. Glycerin has the ability to retain moisture for a long period of time, and therefore it can be combined with water to prevent it from drying out too quickly. Also, it can be used as fuel in the film scene as it is less smoky.
7. Wound treatment
Glycerin has antimicrobial and antiviral properties and hence can be used in treating wounds and cuts. Glycerin solution is to be used in washing wounds and making wound care materials. Its two vital properties (antimicrobial and antiviral) protect the wound from infections and inhibit the growth and reproduction of a virus. Glycerin-treated wounds also have reduced inflammation.
8. Used as an antifreeze
Glycerin is used as an antifreeze (a substance that lowers the freezing point of water). Glycerin is a water-soluble liquid form strong hydrogen bonds with water molecules; therefore, in the process of competing for hydrogen ions and the making of hydrogen bonds, the formation of ice is disrupted. This lowers the freezing point to below 0˚c.
Due to its ant freezing property, glycerin is used to store enzymes that require below 0˚c temperature.
9. Making chemicals
This is another industrial use of glycerin. Glycerin is used in making chemicals, which are raw materials in the making of glycerin-based products. Nitroglycerin is a good example of a glycerin-based chemical. Nitroglycerin is a thick pale yellow liquid made by adding nitric and sulfuric acid to glycerol solution. It is also used in making sub-lingual tablets and aerosol sprays.
10. Antiknock reagent
Triacetin, a solution obtained from the esterification reaction of glycerol with acetic acid, can be used as an antiknock reagent in fuels for internal combustion engines. The liquid is important in reducing the occurrence of engine knock.
11. As a skincare
Glycerin has numerous importances to human skin. Glycerin is a humectant substance, and therefore it plays a vital role in making the skin moist and smooth. It acts like a sponge and draws more moisture to itself. Also, it slows down the rate of evaporation of water from the skin hence ensuring the skin is hydrated. Applying glycerin oil to the skin may also act as a sunscreen hence protecting the skin against the strong ultraviolet rays of the sun.
12. Glycerin and pressure gauges
Glycerin is used as a fill for pressure gauges to damp vibration. When glycerin is used in gauges, it reduces the harmonic vibration produced by external vibration and therefore increasing the lifetime of the gauge.
13. Plant’s extractions (Botanical extraction)
Glycerin is used as an alcohol-free alternative of ethanol as a solvent in plant extractions. When used together with ethanol, glycerin helps in preventing tannins from precipitating in the tincture. Glycerin can be used to preserve these plant extracts.
14. Used to reduce acne
Inflammation, rashes, and irritation caused to the face or skin can be reduced by the use of glycerin oil and moisturizers. Glycerin’s antimicrobial property may protect the skin against infections, causing acne and rashes. Cracked skin can be rescued by the use of glycerin oil; this oil promotes the healing process.
15. as a fuel
Glycerin can be used as fuel on different occasions. For example, glycerol is used to power diesel generators supplying electricity. It is also used to make glycerin acetate, which is a potential fuel. Therefore it provides a less smoky and environmentally friendly source of fuel.
16. Health use
Glycerin is a good source of oil and another nutrient that are beneficial to human beings. It also protects the body against diseases like liver disease. It may also facilitate the formation of new cells and tissues, and this promotes the healing process when one is wounded or sick. When taken orally, glycerin can help in reducing the internal pressure of the eye.