What is vegetable glycerin?


Quick Answer

Vegetable glycerin, also known as glycerol, is a plant-based oil produced from soybeans, palm kernels and coconuts, according to Global Healing Center. PubChem explains that cottonseed and olive oil also yield glycerol. These aforementioned vegetable oils yield more glycerol than animal fats found in lard and tallow. Glycerol is found naturally in all animal and vegetable cells as lipids.

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Full Answer

Products that contain vegetable glycerin include cosmetics and foods, and it replaces alcohol in various herbal tinctures. In low-carbohydrate foods, vegetable glycerin is used to enhance sweetness and moisture. The oil is part of lotions, shampoos, toothpaste and soaps. Global Healing Center reveals that vegetable glycerin hydrates the skin, and the product more easily delivers active ingredients of cosmetics into the skin.

PubChem notes that glycerol is clear, colorless and odorless. Below 64 degrees Fahrenheit, glycerol is a syrupy liquid or a solid. Global Healing Center states that vegetable glycerin is extracted by hydrolysis, a process that splits glycerol from other fatty acids under intense pressure and temperature with water.

Medicinally, doctors use glycerol to relieve pressure in the brain during trauma caused by stroke, meningitis and brain tumors, according to WebMD. Eye doctors use glycerol to reduce fluid in the cornea before an eye exam. This substance is a rectal laxative.

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