What Is Vegetable Glycerin?

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Published on , Last Updated on

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.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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 🙂

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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?

  • Palm is a common one, it’s what we use. If a product isn’t labeled, all you can do is try to research or contact the producer and ask.

  • Glycerin is a very benign substance and not toxic by itself. The other stuff that gets put into the ecig juice… couldn’t say.

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  • Christine

    I read somewhere that you shouldn’t take vegetable glycerin internally as it will dry you out. Is that correct?

  • Quite the opposite, it’s very hydrating. Where did you read that?

  • Christine

    Well, it wasn’t a very reliable source. It was in a review for vegetable glycerin I think, but I can’t remember where now.

  • cassidy

    How do you feel about the VG being used for vaping or in the smokeless cigarette.? good or bad.

  • Vegetable glycerin doesn’t really concern me, but all the other stuff that could potentially be in those mixtures might be something to look into.

  • Libusa Horvathova

    See Facebook page Glycerin Palm non-GMO.

  • Libusa Horvathova

    See Facebook page Glycerin Palm non-GMO

  • ColeB

    Don’t forget is great for chasing clouds. Plume it up!

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  • Mysti SoThen

    Are you aware of or know if Vegetable Glycerin ever be made
    from or contain corn?

  • chris

    isnt this stuff used in the processs of e liquids for electric cigartttes.
    Is it safe to inhail

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  • Conspiracy_Fax

    Can I drink 100 percent pure vegetable glycerin if constipated?

    Anything wrong with using it a s a pure base for vaping?

  • Personally, I’d rather use Oxy-Powder. The vaping… I’d be more concerned about what else might go into it.

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  • Dinakunnn

    i would like to know whether this vg usp involved in the making of detergent cleaner? Because some of my friends are arguing about it and i want a better explanation.

  • Colour Decor

    Great post thanks for sharing

  • What about making a homemade tincture with organic cannabis and organic vg and vaping that? Would you be concerned about what VG would do to the lungs?

  • Not really.

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  • Ryan M Andrée

    Do you know how to make food grade vegetable glycerin from coconut oil? Every place I look mentions lye. I cannot find out how to do it anywhere

  • Ryan M Andrée

    Do you know how to make food grade vegetable glycerin from coconut oil? Every place I look mentions lye. I cannot find out how to do it anywhere. First thing google has not solved for me

  • pr

    Is VG an Ok additive for my dogs treats? It seems to be listed on many ingredient bags

  • pr

    is vegetable glycerin ingredients in snacks and treats OK for my dog?

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  • Andari Voom

    im using VG im my e-juice 😛

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    because our use of Palm oil is killing the orangutans and shoving them right off the planet. I’m answering because the poster did not. I don’t know what her reason was.

  • Machino

    “The vegetable glycerine recommended is a plasma expander, meaning that it pulls water into it. When you consume this thick, sickly sweet liquid, it basically goes to the muscles and pulls water into it.
    Since you’re not drinking any water at the time, the water that’s attracted to the glycerol will come from beneath your skin. So, you’ll look dryer and fuller at the same time.” T-nation is recommending this glycerine to quickly dump fat, water, and bloat for a photo shoot or special event. You ever hear about anything like this? The only glycerine I’m finding is for skin car but it says its food-grade so can you take a couple of spoonfulls of this or is this just crazy talk? lol

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  • Asher

    What about Dr. Gerald Judd’s comments about Glycerin and its effects on the re-mineralization of teeth?

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  • Waqs

    I use 80% v.g 20 % water and food flavor in e-juice
    Can it harmful for my lungs and sore?

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  • Bobby Stange

    Glycerol is vegetable glycerin and ethanol.
    Not the same as straight VG. It ends up being closer to propylene glycol in viscosity however is not propylene glycol.

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  • shirtour

    There are companies selling fair trade Palm Oil that is from specially planted groves and not harming anything or anyone. It supplies all 8 parts of Vit E and is a marvelous health aid. I put some in my smoothie daily and put it on popcorn!

  • shirtour

    Coconut oil will prevent plaque. Salt & soda work well. Have you tried oil pulling?

  • shirtour

    Have you tried good old soaked prunes? 3 of them will usually send me running!

  • shirtour

    Perhaps start here, with Dr. David Perlmutter:
    “https://www.drperlmutter dot com/hidden-dangers-e-cigarettes/
    ” …the long-term health consequences of this new alternative are far from fully understood, and this preliminary information indicates that the effects could range from less than safe to extremely dangerous.”
    For me it would end here!
    http://www.cancer dot net/navigating-cancer-care/prevention-and-healthy-living/stopping-tobacco-use-after-cancer-diagnosis/health-risks-e-cigarettes-smokeless-tobacco-and-waterpipes
    “… alternative tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and waterpipes may cause serious potential health problems, including cancer, because of the chemicals and toxins they contain.”

  • shirtour

    I have heard that glycerine prevents tooth enamel from re-mineralising.

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  • Caco

    Someone told me that 4-L.D.O. (a kind of vegetal glycerin has been used in sunscreen but this use was prohibited ’cause of its potential risk of causing skin cancer. Is it true?

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