Chemistry of Glycerine and its Role in Day to Day Life

Glycerol or Glycerine is a simple poly triol compound that was discovered in 1779. There would be a significantly fewer number of people who haven’t heard about glycerine and its uses in our daily lives. Many of them use glycerol as a beauty hack which works as an excellent moisturizer too. It is a non-toxic, viscous colourless liquid having a chemical formula of  C3H8O3.

Dermatologists mostly prefer glycerine for dermatological treatments. So mainly uses of glycerol are in the field of medicine as well as in the food industry. In this article, we will learn more about glycerine and its properties.

Structure and Formula of Glycerol

The chemical formula of glycerol is C3H8O3, and its extensive formula is  CH2OH-CHOH-CH2OH. It is a trihydroxy sugar alcohol with three carbon atoms and three hydroxyl groups. It is an organic polyol compound with the IUPAC name of 1, 2, 3 – Propanetriol due to the presence of multiple hydroxyl groups and carbon atoms.

Properties of Glycerol

  • It is a colourless viscous liquid
  • Glycerol has a molar mass of 92.09 g/mol−1.
  • Its melting point is −20°C, and its sublimation point is −290°C.
  • Glycerol is combustible and soluble in water.
  • Due to its ability to form hydrogen bonds, has higher solubility in water and other protic solvents.
  • It has a hygroscopic character due to the presence of hydroxyl group
  • Glycerol has a specific gravity of 1.26 and is slightly denser than water  

Preparation of Glycerol

One of the methods of preparing glycerol is the saponification of triglycerides.

In this above reaction, glycerol(an acid) and a soap(sodium palmitate is formed by the reaction of triglyceride with sodium hydroxide (a strong base).

Uses of Glycerol

Glycerine has many uses in the field of medicine and other industries. Here are some detailed explanations of its benefits.

Food and Cosmetic Industry

Glycerol is mainly used in the cosmetic industry to increase the texture of lotions and creams and acts as a moisture reagent. It has an excellent emollient and moisturizing property; therefore used as a key ingredient in the preparation of moisturizing lotions.

As glycerol is highly soluble in water and can form intermolecular hydrogen bonds, it is used in the food industry. It improves the viscosity and texture of foods and maintains the water content in the preserved food items.

Industrial Applications

Pure glycerine has an important role in the production of antifreeze, textile and waxes. It is also used in making paints, resins and purifying agents for soldering.

Pharmaceutical Applications

In order to improve the smoothness and taste, the pharmaceutical industry uses glycerol in a big way. Glycerol is one of the ingredients in the tablet so that it can be easily swallowed. glycerin uses are not limited to this; they have many other benefits such as.

  • Used in liqueurs as a thickening agent
  • Treatment of severely increased eye pressure
  • Used in explosives like dynamite
  • Used in the production of cough syrup


Glycerol or glycerine plays a pretty important role in our daily life. It has various applications in the field of pharma, food and cosmetics as well. Sometimes glycerine can cause mild irritation to the nose and eyes due to its hygroscopic nature. It is very common, and as it is soluble in water, it can be washed out easily.