Chemical namePropane-1,2,3-triol
Chemical formulaC3H8O3
Molecular mass92.09 g/mol
Melting point17.8 C
Boiling point290 C
Density1.261 g/cm3
CAS number56-81-5
Missing image
Chemical structure of glycerol

Glycerin, also known as glycerine and glycerol, and less commonly as 1,2,3-propanetriol, 1,2,3-trihydroxypropane, glyceritol, and glycyl alcohol is a colorless, odorless, hygroscopic, and sweet tasting viscous liquid. Glycerin has three hydrophilic alcoholic hydroxyl groups (-OH) that are responsible for its solubility in water. Glycerin is prochiral. Glycerin is used in glycerin soap, in cosmetics and creams, in foods, in chemistry, and in glycerin mist. Glycerin is produced from dihydroxyacetone phosphate (DHAP) by the enzyme glycerol 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (Gpd p) in the mitochondrion of the eucaryotic cell during glycolysis.[1] (


Glycerin and triglycerides

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Glycerol (3D model)

When referring to its function in living organism, the term glycerol is preferred. Glycerol is an important component of triglycerides (i.e. fats and oils) and of phospholipids. When the body uses stored fat as a source of energy, glycerol and fatty acids are released into the bloodstream. The glycerol component can be converted to glucose by the liver and provide energy for cellular metabolism.

A byproduct of saponification and transesterification to obtain biodiesel, this is produced by hydrolysis of three ester linkages and loss of three equivalents of fatty acid from fat or biological oil.

Fats and oils are insoluble in water, because the OH groups of glycerin are replaced by ester groups. They are hydrophobic.

Glycerin and biodiesel

As a byproduct of biodiesel production, each of the OH sites in HO-CH2-CH(-OH)-CH2-OH is one of the three places where an ester is broken off the triglyceride molecule.

See: transesterification.


Like biodiesel by-product, the purification of the lower glycerin phase involves: neutralisation, separation of unreacted methanol, dilution with wash liquid stream coming from methylester washing, splitting of soaps and final concentration up to 80%. Partially refined glycerin can be delivered as such to specialized distillers.

Feedstock pre-treatment and upgrading of glycerin to pharmaceutical grade (>99.7%) can be optionally implemented within the biodiesel factory itself.

Feedstock so treated receive the effect of fostering slow fat absorption and natural healthgiving effects.



Personal care

Glycerin is a component of glycerin soap, which is made from denatured alcohol, glycerin, sodium castorate (from castor), sodium cocoate, sodium tallowate, sucrose, water and parfum (fragrance). Sometimes one adds sodium laureth sulfate. This kind of soap is used by people with sensitive, easily irritated skin because it prevents skin dryness with its moisturizing properties.

Foods and beverages

Polyether polyols

  • One of the major raw materials for the manufacture of polyols for flexible foams, and to a lesser extent rigid polyurethane foams
  • Glycerin is the initiator to which propylene oxide/ethylene oxide is added

Alkyd resins (plastics) and cellophane

  • Used in surface coatings and paints
  • Used as a softener and plasticizer to impart flexibility, pliability and toughness
  • Uses include meat casings, collagen casings (medical applications)and nonmeat packaging
  • Plasticizer in cellophane.

Absolute alcohol

Other applications

  • Manufacture of paper as a plasticizer, Nitroglycerin, humectant and lubricant
  • Humectant for pet foods to retain moisture and enhance palatability
  • Used in lubricating, sizing and softening of yarn and fabric
  • Used in de-/anti-icing fluids, as in vitrification of blood cells for storage in liquid nitrogen
  • Patent applications have been filed for detergent softeners and surfactants based on glycerin (i.e., alkyl glyceryl ethers) instead of quaternary ammonium compounds.
  • A way to preserve leaves is to submerge them in a solution of glycerin and water.
Use a mixture of one part glycerin to two parts water. Place the mixture in a flat pan, and totally submerge the leaves in a single layer in the liquid. You'll have to weigh them down to keep them submerged. In two to six days, they should have absorbed the liquid and be soft and pliable. Remove them from the pan and wipe off all the liquid with a soft cloth. Done correctly, the leaves will remain soft and pliable indefinitely.
  • Can be added to solutions of water and soap to increase that solution's ability to generate soap bubbles that will last a long time.
  • Use as antifreeze in cryogenic process.
  • Used in fog machine fluids

See also: oleochemicals.

External links

Glycerine is also the title of a single from the album Sixteen Stone by the band eo:Glicerino fr:Glycrol lv:Glicerīns nl:Glycerine ja:グリセリン pl:Gliceryna zh:丙三醇


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