Vegetable glycerin, also known as vegetable glycerol, is a carbohydrate product derived from vegetable oils, such as coconut or palm. Uses of vegetable glycerin include cosmetic products and food. It is also used as a component in medical products such as tinctures, as a substitute for alcohol.
The basic chemical structure of vegetable glycerin is made up of three hydrogen atoms, three carbon atoms and three hydroxyl groups, which form hydrogen bonds with water. Pure glycerin is distilled after a process of keeping vegetable oils under pressure at temperatures exceeding 400 degrees F. The final product has the consistency of a syrup and it has no color and odor. The composition of vegetable glycerin is resistant to freezing.
Cosmetic and Medical Benefits
Vegetable glycerin is associated with anti-aging benefits, as its moisturizing properties help skin remain young and healthy, according to the book "The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements and Herbs." It is an ingredient of a range of moisturizers and it helps draw oxygen into the skin, which slows the aging process. Glycerin has antibacterial and hypoallergenic properties that are helpful in the treatment of acne. It is a frequent component of cosmetics products including shampoo, soap and toothpastes. Medical uses of vegetable glycerin include topical remedies for skin problems, according to Medical News Today. Some of the conditions where glycerin proves helpful include cuts, rashes, psoriasis and burns.
Vegetable glycerin is used in the food industry as a sweetener and natural preservative. People using insulin can use it safely as a sweetener as it does not have effects on blood sugar. In herbal remedies, glycerin may replace alcohol and make herbal preparations easier to take due to its sweet taste.
Vegetable glycerin may cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to coconut and palm oil. It may irritate the gastrointestinal tract and the respiratory system, causing infections and wheezing. Glycerin may cause vomiting and nausea, the book "Roach's Introductory Clinical Pharmacology" reports.