Rolf Otzipka/Photodisc/Getty Images
Glycerin is an organic compound synthesized from animal fat. It was first manufactured in the 19th century by soap-makers who created their soap products from animal fat. Since then, it has developed widespread influence in many industries. Glycerin is a key ingredient in dynamite, soap and skincare products, suppository medications, eye drops, laboratory experiments, fruit and plant preservatives and more. This substance offers advantages for a variety of applications.
Glycerin is a hygroscopic substance, meaning it can easily absorb water from its surroundings, whether they are liquid or air. One advantage of glycerin is that it can de-humidify a room if left in the open. In eye drops, it reduces excess "corneal haze" as it removes water, according to Drugs.com. In the bowel, it relieves constipation by softening stool through water absorption. In skincare products, glycerin softens the skin, potentially because of its ability to attract moisture (though there is some debate as to the exact cause of glycerin's effect on skin).
Glycerin is highly viscous, which means that it is a very thick liquid. This is advantageous, as its extends the applications for this compound. Because of its thickness, it can be used as a main ingredient in certain pastes or glues, such as those used to create sawdust logs, which burn better than ordinary logs, according to an article about glycerin on the website, JourneyToForever. In the science laboratory, glycerin is a logical choice for physics experiments that require thick liquids. Researchers at the University of Virginia used glycerin to study the effects of viscosity on friction.
An important advantage of glycerin is that it is nontoxic. Medicines such as suppositories and eye drops involve absorption of glycerin into the body. Because glycerin is nontoxic, these medications are safe and often sold over the counter. Glycerin is also safely used as an effective preservative. You can preserve plants and flowers using glycerin. You can coat leaves and buds with a mixture of water and glycerin to create a permanent state for the plants for year-round decorative display. In the food industry, glycerin is added to food products to increase shelf life.
- Rolf Otzipka/Photodisc/Getty Images