What Is Vegetable Glycerin?



Vegetable glycerin, (also called glycerol or glycerin) is a simple polyol compound. It is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid that is typically produced from plant, palm, soy, or coconut oil. Glycerol is sweet-tasting, has fewer calories than sugar, and is of low toxicity.

What Is Vegetable Glycerin (VG) Used For?

Besides its usage in the electronic cigarette industry, VG has been used for decades in pharmaceuticals, foods, cosmetic products, and as a replacement for alcohol in herbal and botanical tinctures. Vegetable glycerin serves as a preservative, humectant, solvent and sweetener. It is also used in cough medicine because of its soothing properties. In e-liquid, it is mainly best known to create a cloud-like look in exhaled vapor, a slight sweetness, and act as a preservative. To give you an indication of the wide variety of products glycerin is used in, take a look at the following list:

  • Chocolate milk
  • Yogurt drinks
  • Sport drinks
  • Beer, wine and distilled spirits
  • Condensed milk
  • Cheeses
  • Marshmallows
  • Candy
  • Condiments, like mustard and vinegar, but also mixed spices and seasonings
  • Processed foods, like dried fruit, meats, poultry, cereals and pastas
  • Medicine, like cough mixtures and skin care products

Is VG Bad For Me?

Unlike sucrose (a type of sugar most commonly found in candy and processed foods), VG is metabolized more slowly in humans and it therefore does not have a severe impact on your blood sugar levels. Because of this, it does not contribute to bacterial tooth decay either. Due to its hygroscopic properties, it is also frequently used in the cosmetic industry by absorbing moisture from the air and helping to keep dry skin moist.

How is Vegetable Glycerin Made?

Vegetable glycerin is produced by an extraction process called hydrolysis. During the hydrolysis process, oils are placed under the combined force of air pressure, controlled temperature, and distilled water. The ester bond breaks and causes the glycerin to split from fatty acids and be absorbed by water. The fatty acids and resultants are distilled out to ensure purity.

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