What is Vegetable Glycerin?

hand soap - glycerin

Vegetable glycerin, or glycerol, is a clear, odorless liquid produced from plant oils, typically palm oil, soy, or coconut oil. Palm and coconut oils are natural triglyceride mixtures; each triglyceride is composed of three fatty acids esterified with glycerin. Vegetable glycerin has a number of valuable applications that include cosmetic products, foods, and as a replacement for alcohol in herbal and botanical tinctures.

How is Vegetable Glycerin Made?

Vegetable glycerin is produced using an extraction process called hydrolysis. During hydrolysis, oils are placed under the combined force of pressure, temperature, and water. The ester bond breaks and causes the glycerin to split from fatty acids and be absorbed by water; at which point the resultant is further isolated by distillation to increase purity. Purified vegetable glycerin has a texture similar to an oil or syrup due to its organic molecular makeup, specifically, three hydroxyl groups.

The Benefits of Vegetable Glycerin?

Vegetable glycerin used in food applications is USP grade or over 99% pure and has a sweet taste. Vegetable glycerin metabolizes differently than sugar and is used in low carbohydrate foods for sweetness and moisture. Unlike sugar, glycerin does not contribute to tooth decay.

Many household products, including lotions, shampoo, and toothpaste, contain vegetable glycerin. Glycerin is added to these products because it is a humectant; a substance that attracts moisture to the skin. In the cosmetic world, this has two practical applications. First, glycerin leaves your skin hydrated. Glycerin soap, for example, is popular for that very reason. Second, for cosmetic products that deliver an active ingredient, a humectant can increase the solubility of the active ingredient, making it more easily absorbed by the skin.

Vegetable glycerin may be used as a solvent and substitute for alcohol when producing botanical and herbal extracts. This is advantageous for people who wish to avoid alcohol exposure.

Other Uses for Vegetable Glycerin

The safety of vegetable glycerin coupled with its functional properties has made it invaluable for various medical applications. The hydrating effect of glycerin makes it ideal as a topical remedy for burns. Glycerin is also used in the production of suppositories. A good source to look for is a USP grade, non-GMO, allergen free, kosher certified vegetable glycerin.

– Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

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  • deanie

    Hello, the beauty of vegetable glycerin changes when it is used for electronic cigarette “juice”. Cancer LOVES sugar. When you vape vegetable glycerin you greatly help cancer thrive. sugar levels spike in the body and if you have lung cancer….. well what better way to feed the cancer in the lung than to give it sugar in an incredibly penetrating way through vapor. I am not a scientist but I do have personal experience with lung cancer and vegetable glycerin juice used for electronic cigarette juice. It all didn’t happen for naught though, because now I can pass on new knowledge. Perhaps now we can figure out how to put something devastating to cancer with the sugar vapor that will be greedily sucked up by the cancer therefore causing it to happily kill itself. Help me spread the word, Deanie

  • Adnen


    Thank you Dr for precious information’s i want to ask if is it possible to produce vg Glycerin from olive oil,in my country olive oil price is about 2 to 3 dollars per liter so how much Glycerin can i get from 1L

    Thank you and sorry for my bad English

  • ghc_health

    I don’t believe so. Vegetable glycerin is actually sometimes seen as an alternative to olive oil.

  • Adnen

    Thank you for reply :-)
    so no e-liquid from olive oil ?
    I want to start small (experimental) line production of e-liquid but i can’t find where to start :(

  • pj

    on another site, the dr, was saying that they were going to do lab tests on the nascent iodine in the glycerin because he says in a glycerin base, the nascent iodine would go back to an iodide……..that it was not a true “nascent” iodine product. I would love to see your independent lab results showing that the iodine is nascent in the glygerine base just to shut the guy up. Im certain you have that. You have been very conscientious and thorough in your research and process. I have purchase 10 bottles. My husband and I have taken 6 drops a day under the tongue. 3 in the morning and 3 at night. 1 mnth plus now. we are 48 yrs. old probably very deficient. may need more. not sick. cant tell yet if helping but I know we need it and we don’t want to wait to be sick.

  • ghc_health

    Yes, there is a bogus smear campaign against glycerin based nascent iodine that is being done by a company promoting and selling an alcohol based iodine product. Keep your eyes on the blog, I’m finishing an article now that will dispel the untruths being perpetuated.

  • territerri

    Thank you for posting this! I have been using glycerin in my products for years but always in the back of my mind, I worried.
    “what is glycerin, and will it hurt my clients?” Now I know! TY!

  • lc

    Im looking for a good safe toothpaste I found Thieves but it has vegetable glycerine in it, can you advise on this please.

  • Bev

    Hello Doctor Group,
    Thank you for the information! I would like to make vanilla extract using vegetable glycerin instead of alcohol. Would you be able to recommend a vegetable glycerin? Also, do you know if there is anything I need to know when ordering vanilla beans online?
    Thank you again!

  • ghc_health

    Thanks for asking, the vegetable glycerin we currently use is palm. Watch for certified organic or at least organically grown/produced ingredients, they will just provide the best and most desired quality.

  • sj

    There’s a lot of warnings about glycerine in toothpaste, is this warranted? It was started by a chemist called Dr. Gerald Judd.

  • sj

    Coral White has no glycerine and neither does Earth Paste. They are both sold on Amazon.

  • ghc_health

    Haven’t heard this. What’s Dr. Gerald Judd saying?

  • Maggie Zimmer-Neiman

    Can I mix coconut oil and vegetable glycerin to use as lotion on my body and face?

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    Sounds like it could be a good idea, let us know how it works out!

  • Elaine

    Thanks so much for this information. I was wondering if vegtable glycerine remains safe and nontoxic for the body when blended with pure organic essential oils (and distiller water for making body sprays)? Is there a shelf live for VG and can I store it at room temperature? I appreciate your time and answer.

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    It does remain stable, it acts as a preservative to hold a static “imprint” of whatever it’s combined with. It has terrific staying power and storing at room temperature is fine.

  • rose

    can the use of vegetable glycerin affect my blood sugar as in using it in juice for an e-cig?

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    That probably would not impact blood sugar but using an e-cig may impact other components of your health.

  • Astrid

    Hi, can you please recommend a formula using vegetable glycerine and water as a base for liquid homeopathic remedies? What proportion of glycerine is needed to preserve the mixture and how long would it be stable at room temp? Many thanks for your help :-)

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    It’d probably depend what you’re trying to make. Glycerin is stable at room temperature, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

  • googly

    I know that there are probably no studies on this but I would like to know the effects on your lungs by breathing the vapor of vg in ecig? I have been using ecig for almost a year and have almost got the nicotine to 0. Thanks!

  • Edward Group

    Good question. I’d like to do an article at some point about e-cigarettes. I’ve been doing some poking around and pubmed does have quite a few returns for ‘electronic cigarette’. Take a look and let us know what you find.

  • Natalie

    Hi. thank you for your article – it was really informative. Can you tell me the difference between food grade or cosmetic grade. I have read an article that uses VG with hemp oil and olive oil for wrinkles. thank you in advance for your help.

  • Lucy

    Could I substitute Clear glycerin (melt and pour) soap for the Veg glycerin asked for in making bubble bath

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    Possibly but it’d depend if that soap had other additives.

  • DUNG.HNA2896 2002896

    Hello Doctor Group,
    Thank you for your recipe. But I don’t have vegetable glycerin. Can I replace it with other carrier oil such as coconut oil, argan oil, ….? Thank you again.

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    Possibly, it depends what you’re doing. I like coconut oil.

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  • moonclanwoman

    Can you please tell me if the glycerin in the Detoxadine is coconut based? I have no desire to use corn, palm oil or soy based glycerin but would be interested in taking Detoxadine if it is coconut based glycerin.

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    It’s palm. Why don’t you like palm?

  • jaimi

    hi there, i am making a body cream for a friend for christmas, she suffers from nut alleriges and eczema, is it safe to use vegetable glycerin in the cream? as it could be from palm oil?
    i am totally new to diy creams but have suffered with dry skin and oily skin for years. any advice would be great.

    thank you. :)

  • Miamii Sammy

    is vegetable glycerin 100% natural? I am on the ‘no poo’ and looking at making my own shampoo to sell. I am going to buy 100% natural shampoo now which has veg gly in? Thanks

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    If she has sensitivities to palm based products, I would confirm that any glycerins you’re considering do not contain palm.

  • eva

    Where is a good place to get organic vegetable glycerin that is derived from coconuts. I’ve been searching online, with little luck.

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    It can be hard to find. What are you going to use it for?

  • Dorothy

    I found a recipe for homemade cough syrup that called for Food Grade glycerin. At WalMart I found a bottle of glycerin that says, :
    USP 99.5% (Anhydrous), an emollient & demulcent Pure Natural, Vegetable Based.
    Is this the same thing as Food Grade?

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    Hey Dorothy, I’m not familiar with that brand and couldn’t say for sure… did the manufacturer have a contact number on the label?

  • hannahlostsheep

    What are the effects of vaping vegetable glycerin? I. E. E-juice for electronic cigarette devices.

  • Alicia Brown

    How do i find out which product any vegetable glycerine is made out of? I cant bring soy home. There are people with allergies. Is there a way to get one specifically made with coconut? Maybe palm?





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