Also known as glycerine or glycerol, vegetable glycerine is a colourless liquid made from palm oil, soybeans or coconut. Vegetable glycerine is a sweet, mild tasting liquid with a syrup-like consistency.

While it is especially prevalent in the cosmetic industry, it still has a few more uses and is known to provide health benefits, ranging from a strengthened gut to skin health and better hydration. In this article, we will be looking at everything you need to know about vegetable glycerine, from its uses and benefits to its side effects.

Vegetable Glycerin: What is it?

Glycerine is an alcohol-derived sugar extracted from petroleum, animal products, or plants.

Vegetable glycerine is a variant of the same made primarily from plant oils. According to history, this variant was accidentally discovered over two centuries ago, when someone “accidentally” heated up a mixture of lead monoxide and olive oil.

However, it only became industrially and economically significant towards the end of the 1800s when it was used in the making of dynamite.

Vegetable glycerine is prepared by heating vegetable fats rich in triglyceride (like coconut, palm, and soy oils) together with strong alkalis like lye or under pressure.

This leads to the glycerine splitting from fatty acids and mixing with water to create a syrup-like, odourless, and sweet-tasting liquid.

Common Uses of Vegetable Glycerine

It is used widely in the pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetics industries. For example, vegetable glycerine can be added to foods to help water-based and oil ingredients mix, moistening, or sweetening the final product.

It is also used in the food industry to prevent the forming of ice crystals in frozen foods like ice cream, yogurt, and a variety of other desserts. Glycerol is also commonly used in the making of pharmaceutical drugs such as anaesthetics, suppositories, heart medication, and cough remedies.

At the same time, it is also used in the making of toothpaste since it helps keep the toothpaste from hardening or drying out in the tub. It is also worth noting that it is a commonly used ingredient in the making of candles, deodorant, makeup, soaps, and lotions.

Potential Benefits

Glycerol is hyped as a product with tons of health benefits.

However, the benefits supported by science aren’t that many. Furthermore, there are only a few related studies, and most of them tend to be very small. For us to fully understand the health benefits vegetable glycerine has to offer, more studies are necessary.

The following are the benefits that have been researched the most:

It is a Possible Skin Moisturiser

Vegetable glycerine is quite popular as a skincare treatment since it has moisturising qualities.

Research has shown that applying glycerol on your skin could improve its suppleness and smoothness over time. Using skin products that contain glycerine could improve skin hydration in less than ten days.

Thought to Promote Skin Health

Glycerine could lead to improved skin health by protecting against infections, soothing irritations, and promoting wound healing. According to study results, products that contain glycerine could help protect your skin against microbes and irritants, and to soothe wounded or inflamed skin.

Furthermore, glycerol is also known to serve as a barrier that safeguards your skin from different elements, and that includes cold and wind.

It is Known to Boost Athletic Performance and Hydration

Vegetable glycerine can improve hydration, something that could benefit your athletic performance.

One of the best ways to avoid getting dehydrated is drinking plenty of liquids before and while exercising. However, it can sometimes be impractical to drink up while performing some physical activities. In such instances, drinking plenty of water before heading out is vital.

In a different study, glycerine drinks were more effective than sports drinks or water at improving hydration in people who’d lost a lot of water through sweating while exercising (12).

Possible Side Effects

Glycerol is considered to be safe. It is stored in pumps provided by Flux Pumps and other companies, transported as safely as possible. That said, you might experience some allergic reaction when glycerine is applied directly on your skin. It is, therefore, advisable that you start by trying small amounts on your skin to see how it reacts.

When swallowed, glycerol might cause vomiting, nausea, excessive thirst, headaches, and dizziness in some people.

Since vegetable glycerine is a type of sugar alcohol that our bodies can’t fully absorb, ingesting too much of it – either through foods or alone – could lead to diarrhoea and gas.