Difference Between Glycerin and Glycerol (With Table)

It has been discovered that there is numerous availability of chemicals on the Earth’s surface. Chemicals can be defined as a mixture of substances to get a product as a change in another substance. They are quite harmful for human consumption but have good productivity in the Pharmaceutical Industry. This industry creates its base dealing with these chemicals for different purposes.

In a developing nation, the pharmaceutical industry plays a huge role. Without the affiliation of this industry, medicines are difficult to be prepared by manufacturers. This industry may deal with generic or brand medications. The pharmaceutical industry prescribes chemicals like glycerin that are not harmful to the skin.

Glycerin vs Glycerol

The difference between glycerin and glycerol is due to few parameters. Glycerin is the commercial name of glycerol. There is no difference in their chemical formula but can be differentiated based on their purity. Glycerin is both a humectant and an emollient. On the other hand, glycerols are characterized only as a humectant.

Glycerin is an organic compound that is also known as triatomic alcohol. Glycerin contains around 95% glycerol. Glycerin is trihydroxy alcohol that is prepared by the process of saponification. It has a chemical formula C3H5(OH)3 existing as a natural fats and oils base. It is not a pure form of a compound. It becomes very thick and acts like gum when frozen properly under conditions.

Glycerol is a pure state of chemical. It has no odor or color. It is helpful during the treatment of injuries due to its antiviral properties. It is extracted from glycerin. Glycerol is also helpful in manufacturing products like mouthwash which we use daily.

Comparison table between Glycerin and Glycerol

Parameters of comparisonGlycerinGlycerol
DefinitionA polyol oil compound with no odor and color.A by-product was obtained during the formation of soap. 
AvailabilityIt is available in a great source. Glycerin is used in the extraction of glycerol.
PurposeIt is widely used in the cosmetic industry.It is widely in pharmaceutical applications.
UsesUsed as antiseptic and moisturizers.Day to day products like hair gel, mouthwash, toothpaste, etc.
Side effectsCan cause rashes, reddening of skin and blisters, etc. Can cause severe headaches and dizziness if used without being prescribed by the doctor.

What is Glycerin?

Glycerin is a polyol compound discovered by Carl Sheele in 1779. It is an oily viscose liquid with no color and odor. It has a sweet taste as it is obtained from natural fats. It is non-toxic by nature. Due to the property of antimicrobial and antiviral, it is widely used in wound and burn treatments. Glycerin plays an important role in the cosmetic industry of this developing nation. It is useful in combination with various acids like oleic, margaric, stearic, and palmitic for preservative purposes. Glycerin is often used in chocolate filling, cookies, and cakes.

Glycerin as a beauty product acts as skin toner and cleanser. Due to its moisturizing virtues, it can retain moisture over the skin for a longer time. It s why it also serves as an overnight mask in facial glow creams. Although it can lock moisture, it is helpful in the production of vaseline for chapped lips. It also helps in the production of hair growth products as it pretends dandruff and dry scalp.

Glycerin provides the best relief from the constipation problem, and it works like a hydrating agent. Due to such characteristics, it acts as a suppository. Glycerin can pretend substances from drying or hardening, and for this particular characteristic, it is helpful in the production of toothpaste or hair gel.
Glycerin acts as a moisturizing agent because of having a specific characteristic of humectant. It pulls water from the deeper layer of the skin to the uppermost layer of the skin. This process ultimately provides hydration to the upper layer of the skin.
It also has the disadvantage of dehydrating the skin in the future, which may cause blisters. Glycerin is advisable to be used if prescribed by a doctor. As it is not preferable to all skin types can cause rashes, itching, redness, etc.

What is Glycerol?

Glycerol is a by-product obtained during the manufacture of soap from animal or vegetable oils and fats. Inorganic chemistry, glycerols belong to the family of alcohol. Glycerol molecule is highly polar due to this specific characteristic, it is soluble in water. With the combination of three fatty acids, it forms a lipid. Glycerol acts as the backbone of triglycerides.

Glycerol finds its use as a lubricant because of its laxative character. It is beneficial for pharmaceutical purposes. Besides, it is effective for liver diseases like psoriasis. It is hygroscopic and forms an ingredient in our day-to-day used products like mouthwash, shaving cream, hair gel, etc.

Although it is prochiral concerning reactions, it finds its use as an explosive. It helps cure diseases like diarrhea and enema. Glycerol should only be used under medical supervision as it can cause a severe headache, dizziness, and nausea if taken through the mouth.

As glycerol is a natural sweetener, it is helpful in the preservation of low-fat frozen beverages like ice cream. Glycerol is obtained by heating triglyceride with a strong alkali, such as lye. As its consistency is similar to syrups, it also helps in strengthening the gut. As it is an antifreeze agent, it is helpful for car radiators.

Main Differences Between Glycerin and Glycerol

  1. Glycerin is known as the commercial name of glycerol. It is a triatomic chemical compound.
  2. Glycerin is not the pure form of chemical. It contains 95% of glycerol. But, glycerol occurs in its pure state obtained by the saponification of natural oils and fats.
  3. Glycerol is an ideal sugar substitute for glycerin as it has 27 calories per teaspoon. For this specific reason, it forms a constituent in alcohol.
  4. Glycerin plays a vital role in the cosmetic industry. But, glycerol plays a role in the pharmaceutical industry in the growing nation.
  5. Although glycerol can be used instead of glycerin in many medical cases, we cannot use glycerin instead of glycerol due to the differences in purity.


Although there is some differentiation between glycerin and glycerol, they both play a vital role in our day-to-day lives. They both cannot be put under the same set of chemical chains though there is a variation in their purity. Glycerin is the commercial name of glycerol. Both are used in different industries owing to their characteristics. Glycerol plays a vital role in the development of the pharmaceutical industry. And in the same time, glycerin has its role in the development of the cosmetic industry. They are harmless chemicals if used under medical supervision.


  1. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ef9015735
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0377840111001891
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