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Propylene Glycol vs. Glycerin

Propylene glycol and glycerin vegetable are two products that are often confused with one another, with good reason. The two alcoholic compounds seem practically identical at first glance, which might make those not familiar with them have a hard time understanding which product they want to purchase. They are both used in many different products ranging from the chemical, food, cosmetic, to pharmaceutical industries. This blog post will clear up any misunderstandings between the two chemicals and help you determine what is best for you.

Glycerin is a non-toxic fluid made from plant oils in its natural form. It can also be made synthetically through processing propylene. Chemically speaking, the alcoholic compound is made of three -OH groups. It is a clear, colorless, sweet tasting, syrupy liquid. Glycerin is commonly used as a humectant (meaning it preserves moisture), solvent, and preservative. Glycerin is also an emollient, which means that it has the quality to soothe and soften the skin, which makes this extremely popular for soap making.

Propylene glycol is a synthetic fluid that derives from propylene oxide. Chemically speaking, it is composed of two -OH groups. Like glycerin, it is a clear, colorless, and sweet tasting chemical. It is also most commonly used as a humectant, solvent, and a preservative. Due to its more toxic behavior than glycerin, the amount of propylene glycol in a product is typically a small amount. It is recognized as a generally safe chemical for human use, according to the FDA. Trace amounts can be found in many products, as it does not react on its own and does not affect other ingredients. It has a very low freezing point, so it makes a good component for antifreeze.

Glycerin and propylene glycol are used for many of the same types of products. When deciding which product would be best for you, there are a few factors to keep in mind. Glycerin is a natural product, which causes the price to be a little higher than the synthetic propylene glycol. Propylene glycol and glycerin have different consistencies. Glycerin is much thicker and is typically considered to be more sweet in taste.

Whether it be in products from the store, or something you make from home, both propylene glycol and glycerin vegetable are important versatile components in making products that we use in our day to day lives. Your preferences will determine which product would best fit you and your needs.