Your location: Home > Wiki > Health, Nutrients > Glycerin >


Veterinarian Reviewed on January 14, 2014 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized



Glycerin in room temperature appears as a colorless and sweet-tasting thick liquid. This substance is mostly used in personal care products and other similar industries. In the form of nitroglycerine, it is used to make dynamite.

The property of glycerin as a humectant, the ability to absorb water, makes it an indispensable ingredient in soaps and creams. It is also found to enhance the cleaning ability of soap. Glycerin is completely dissolved in water and in alcohol. However, it does not dissolve in oils.

History and Origin

In 1889, glycerin was only obtained through the process of commercial candle-making. Candles were made from animal fat way back then. The process was complicated and thus was simplified; glycerin nowadays is produced when fat is mixed with lye. As fat and lye are mixed, soap is formed and glycerin is extracted.

Ancient Uses

The use of glycerin was unheard of during ancient times but the earliest accounts of the production of soap dates back to around 2800 BC in the ancient city of Babylon. The recipe for making soaps includes mixing ashes, cypress oils, sesame seed oil and other perfume oils. In ancient Egypt, it was noted that in 1550 BC, bathers used animal fat and vegetable oils to make soap. Soap was also a part of wool preparation for weaving in ancient Egypt.

Modern Uses

Glycerin has many other applications aside from making soaps and other personal care products. It is also a main ingredient in preserving fruit, in cake and pastry making, in making candies and also in many other food stuffs.

Glycerin is a vital ingredient in making clear soaps; some soap may have up to 15 to 20% pure glycerin content; this is perfect to use for people with extra sensitive skin and infant’s skin as well. The main downside of soap with more glycerin content is that it dissolves in water more rapidly as compared to soap with a fair amount of glycerin. This chemical has the ability to lock in or seal in moisture which is perfect to use in many skin care products.
Glycerin is also found in lotions, personal care products, inks for printers and as a perfect chemical to preserve specimens in labs. It has antiseptic properties that can preserve scientific specimens for a very long time.

Glycerin is made into nitroglycerine which is used in making dynamite. It is not dangerous on its own.

Side Effects

There are no side effects from using products with glycerin. Soaps with high glycerin content are even considered for people with highly sensitive skin and for babies as well. It is important though to consult a dermatologist for the most appropriate skin care brand to use if you have sensitive skin. Using skin care products with glycerin must be contraindicated for irritated skin, inflamed skin and also for skin with cuts and burns.

Although considered safe to use and also safe in an industrial setting, people who work with pure glycerin must wear protective clothing. Always report any skin irritation when exposed to chemicals at work.

Read also: Juniper Berries

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

Related Posts