Glycerin or glycerol is a co-product of the transesterification process of a vegetable oil and an alcohol.
The main product of this reaction is a mixture of three molecules of ester (biodiesel), which comes out in a proportion of 90% by mass, and a molecule of glycerin that represents approximately 10% by mass.
The name glycerol only applies to the pure substance, but the term glycerin is used to name mixtures containing different amounts or degrees of purity with respect to glycerol.
The official chemical name of this pure substance is 1,2,3-propanetriol.
Depending on the degree of purity or glycerol content, glycerin can receive the following names:
The pure substance is a colorless, viscous, hygroscopic, sweet-tasting, biocompatible, polar, highly reactive poly-alcohol (reacts with organic and inorganic acids to form ethers, esters, aldehydes and many other derivatives), 100% soluble in water and alcohol. Glycerol is recognized as atoxic, allowed as an additive in foods, used in medicines and named as a “GRAS” substance (generally recognized as safe).
Its main function is to be a humectant, that is, it retains the moisture load of certain media, slowing the drying process by normal evaporation or by storage time.
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