Glycerin is a sugary, colorless or insipid, viscous liquid that is widely used in pharmaceutical as well as industrial formulations. For human consumption, glycerin, which has very low toxicity, is classified by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) among the sugar alcohols as a caloric macronutrient. Glycerin boils at a very high temperature and freezes to form a paste. Glycerin easily dissolves in water and alcohol, but is not soluble in oils. It is considered to be a very good solvent as many substances easily dissolve into glycerin, often better than they do in water or alcohol.

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Soap manufacturers using the cold process make use of glycerin as a humectant - a substance that absorbs or helps another substance retain moisture. In other words, this denotes that glycerin, often spelt as glycerine, draws humidity towards your skin. It may be mentioned here that glycerin is a natural spin-off or derivative in the soap manufacturing procedure. In fact, commercial soap manufacturers take away glycerin and use it in the manufacture of more costly and luxurious lotions and creams; nevertheless, some amount of it stays behind in all soap bars.

As mentioned earlier, glycerin is a chemical compound, extremely 'hygroscopic' in nature. Glycerin possesses three hydrophilic hydroxyl groups that are responsible for its solubility in water as well as its hygroscopic nature. This denotes that it is able to absorb water from the atmosphere. For instance, if one leaves a bottle of unadulterated glycerin open to air in his or her kitchen, it would absorb moisture or humidity from the air and ultimately the solution will comprise 80% glycerin and 20% water. Owing to its hygroscopic nature, when 100% pure glycerin is placed on the tongue, it may cause a blister or eruption. This is primarily owing to the fact that glycerin is basically dehydrating. However, when glycerin is diluted with water and applied on the skin, it will make the membrane softer.

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Glycerin is primarily a type of a sports supplement that on the whole replaces the body fluid lost during any physical hard work. However, glycerin is not any ordinary sports supplement that is basically manufactured with a view to enhance endurance and athletic feats. On the other hand, glycerin helps avoid exhaustion by replacing the fluids lost in the course of tough workouts. Researches have demonstrated that a person may lose as much as three to four pounds of body fluids during any exertion such as a tough exercise session. The loss of body fluid may be even more if one undertakes workouts in a warm and wet type of weather. If the lost body fluid is not restored immediately, the individual may face the peril of slowing down as well as collapse owing to the dehydration that may eventually lead to a heat stroke.

It may be mentioned here that a deficiency of body fluids often leads to a drop in the blood plasma level that results to a lesser amount of blood to transport the essential nourishments and oxygen to the muscle cells in the body. Consequently, an individual will wear out more rapidly and take a longer time to recuperate for his or her exercises. Moreover, there is also less amount of blood in the circulatory system to simmer down the skin. Although consumption of additional water may help to control the situation to some extent, it may not be adequate to overcome the loss of fluids.

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Basically, glycerin is a hydroscopic amalgam (a compound that naturally absorbs moisture from the atmosphere) and is found as a natural component in all cells of the body. As mentioned, glycerin helps in retaining water in the cells and has the capability to move in and out of the cells to deliver water wherever it is required. Several researches have established that when athletes or sportspersons drink an infusion containing glycerin, they not only lose a smaller amount of body fluid and sustain a lesser body temperature, but also have a lower heart beat rate compared to only drinking plain water. It has been proved that consuming any beverage containing glycerin following a workout aids in restoring the body fluids faster.

Glycerin is used in different forms and for a number of purposes. It is used in therapeutic, pharmaceutical as well as personal care products and used primarily to help perk up softness, endow with slipperiness and also as a humectant or absorbent substance. Normally, glycerin may be found in elixirs or tinctures, cough syrups, expectorants, mouthwashes, toothpaste, skin care items, hair care merchandise, soaps as well as all lubricants that have a water base.

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A solution containing 10 per cent glycerin puts off tannins from settling down in tinctures prepared with ethanol extracted from plants. In addition, glycerin may also be used as an alternate for ethanol in solvent form while preparing herbal tinctures. It is virtually difficult to extract glycerin and around 30 per cent less absorbable by the body.

Glycerin is often applied as a purgative and lead into the rectum in the form of small capsules or liquid (cathartic) state to aggravate the bowel movement. In this process, glycerin brings on a hyperosmotic or an increased osmosis outcome.

Glycerin is a constituent of glycerin soap that is manufactured with denatured (molecules with modified structure) alcohol, sodium cocoate, sodium castorate (prepared from castor), sodium tallowate, sucrose (pant starch), water and fragrance. Occasionally, some manufactures add a quantity of sodium laureth sulfate to the combination. This special soap is ideal for people having receptive skin that is easily aggravated as glycerin soaps having plenty of moisturizing properties, prevents the skin from becoming dehydrated. What is encouraging is the fact that it is simple to make glycerin soaps and they can be prepared at home too.

In addition to soaps for dry skin, glycerin is used in a number of items, including de-icing fluids and in the vitrification of blood cells before it is stored in liquid nitrogen. Incidentally, glycerin is also of great use in filmmaking as it is used as a non-evaporating replacement for sweating on actors. The substance also finds use in the preparation of different types of fake blood used during dramas on a stage.

Source of glycerin

Although it is common knowledge now that glycerin is a by-product of soap making, till 1889 people were unaware of how to get back glycerin from the soap manufacturing procedure. Hence, most of the glycerin produced commercially was obtained from the candle manufacturing industry. It may be mentioned here that in those days candles were manufactured from animal fats, especially fats from pigs. Eventually, a feasible way to take apart the glycerin out of the soap was executed in 1889. As the foremost utilization of glycerin was to formulate nitroglycerin that was used to make dynamite, all of a sudden soap manufacturing became a very profitable business.

Anyways, today glycerin comes from either one of two sources - first, it is the main by-product of biofuel (ethanol) production, and second, it is a derivative of soap making. However, the type of glycerin derived from ethanol production is not what is typically eaten. This type of glycerin is refined and purified and used in cosmetics and for "personal lubricants". The food-grade (also known as "vegetable") glycerin is made by means of a very analogous procedure, but done on a smaller scale using palm and/or coconut oils.

Reverting to the topic of removing glycerin from soap, it needs to be mentioned that the process is quite complex. Speaking in simple terms, soap is manufactured using fats and lye. As discussed earlier, fats enclose glycerin as a part of their chemical composition - fats obtained from both animals as well as vegetable encloses 7% to 13% glycerin. Soap is formed owing to the interaction of fats and lye, while glycerin remains as a derivative or by-product of the process. Although glycerin is detached chemically, it still continued to be combined together with the soap blend.

Cold process soap manufacturers and those making soap commercially adopt different approaches in their business. In fact, a soap manufacturer using the cold process would merely pour the liquid soap mixture into casts at this juncture, while the commercial soap manufacturer will include salt in the liquid soap blend. Adding salt to the mixture will result in the soap going off and be buoyant on the top. Once the soap is skimmed off the top, the residue is glycerin. The glycerin derived in this process is not initially pure and contains plenty of partly dissolved soap, additional soap and other substances. The commercial soap manufacturers then segregate the glycerin from the impure suspension by means of distillation. In the end, the commercial soap manufacturers bleach the glycerin by way of filtering it through charcoal or by means of some other blanching procedure.

Uses of glycerin

Glycerin has plenty of uses. In addition to being utilized as a substance to produce nitroglycerin, the most important use of the substance, it is used for industrial, pharmaceutical and cosmetic purposes. (It may be mentioned here that glycerin on its own is not a volatile substance. In fact, glycerin needs to be converted into nitroglycerin in order to transform the substance into an explosive. Hence, it is very safe to use glycerin in one's kitchen.). Among the various utilizes of glycerin, some are as follows: safeguarding preserved fruits, putting off freezing of hydraulic jacks, using it as a foundation for creams and greasing molds in cake and candy manufacture owing to its antiseptic properties. Occasionally glycerin is also used to conserve scientific samplings in jars in the school biology laboratories. In addition to these, glycerin is also used in printing as well as manufacturing ink.

All things apart, glycerin forms an important ingredient in the manufacture of clear soaps. Soaps that contain exceedingly high concentration of glycerin actually enclose 15% to 20% of the unadulterated substance. In fact, the hobbyists find it easier to work with such soaps that are commonly known as 'melt and pour' soaps. These soaps normally thaw out at approximately 160°F and harden quite quickly. Owing to the high concentration of glycerin content, these soaps are effective in moisturizing the skin. However, the fact remains that owing to their high glycerin content, these soaps will dissolve much faster in water in comparison to soaps enclosing lesser amount of glycerin provided that the soap is left open in the air. These soaps will draw more moisture or humidity from the atmosphere and sparkle with beads of atmospheric dampness.

Nevertheless, the shortcomings of high glycerin content in soaps are over and above balanced by the soothing, skin loving and calm temperament of these soaps that are particularly excellent for sensitive skin and also among children.

Glycerin and rose water cleansing cream

Glycerin and rose water cleansing cream too is effective for both dry and normal skin conditions. The ingredients needed to prepare this herbal product include:

First liquefy the lanolin in an open saucepan and heat the almond oil and glycerin in another pan over the same heat. Blend the two and keep stirring them gently constantly. Next, gradually add rose water to the blend and allow it to cool. When the mixture has cooled down, stir the essential oil of rose into it.

Rose water-glycerin lotion

It is very possible that this herbal skin conditioner will be much loved by your grandmother. In effect, this traditionally prepared herbal mix is not only a very effectual essential moisturizer, but it is also a preferred hand lotion. Although one variety of this herbal skin care product is available with the drugstores, if you wish to prepare one personally, you are able to change the ratio of the ingredients with a view to go well with your skin as well as the changing condition of your skin depending on the seasonal changes.

The basic ingredients of this preparation are very common, such as:

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) of rose water
  • 1/4 cup of glycerin

To prepare this herbal skin care product, you are free to use ready rose water or make it personally be adding one teaspoon of rose oil to half a cup of distilled water. Mix the rose water and glycerin till it turns into a soft and cream-like blend. Finally, pour the creamy mixture in a spotless bottle and seal it tightly.

A thinner rose water-glycerin cream is recommended for people with oily skin. To prepare this thinner lotion, blend two-third cup of rose water with two tablespoonful of glycerin. Conversely, a more dense lotion is apt for people having dry skin. To prepare this thick rose water-glycerin lotion blend 1/3 cup of rose water with one-third or extra glycerin.

Rose water-glycerin gel: To prepare a gel using rose water and glycerin, you need to liquefy one teaspoon of ordinary gelatin in half a cup (125 ml) of hot water. Next, mix one teaspoon of rose oil and three tablespoons of glycerin thoroughly.


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