Difference Between Glycerol and Glycerin

There are numerous Chemicals available on Earth most of them are discovered but there are several others which are not yet discovered. Chemicals are directly related to the Pharmaceutical industry.


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The pharmaceutical industry is an industry which deals with chemicals, drugs for use in medication, etc., they produce, discover, or develop Different Chemicals and drugs for or medication use which is readily available in the market.

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most important industries and without their affiliation, no medicines can be manufactured by the manufacturers.

The pharmaceutical companies may deal in generic or brand medications along with medical devices. 

There are numerous Chemicals which are considered harmful for human consumption and these Chemicals are distinguished from drugs this distinction is created by the pharmaceutical industry.

For example, chemicals like glycerin are used in skincare products and it is prescribed by the Pharmaceutical Industry that it is not harmful to the skin.

Key Takeaways

  1. Glycerol and glycerin are two names for the same compound, a clear, odorless, sweet-tasting liquid used in various industries.
  2. Glycerol/glycerin is a key component of various products, including cosmetics, food, and pharmaceuticals, due to its moisturizing properties and ability to act as a solvent.
  3. Glycerol/glycerin can be derived from animal fats and vegetable oils or synthesized chemically.

Glycerol vs Glycerin

The difference between glycerol and glycerin is glycerol is a pure form on the other hand glycerin contains 95% glycerol. Although that chemical formula is the same they cannot be used interchangeably especially when purity is preferred. 

Glycerol vs Glycerin

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonGlycerolGlycerin
DefinitionIt is a simple polyol compound, which is pure form.It is a solution which contains 95% of glycerol in it.
AvailabilityIt is not available in its pure form.It is available in its pure form.
PurposeInternal useExternal use
UsesUsed in medicationUsed in cosmetics
Side effectsNausea, headache, dizziness, etc.Skin redness, rashes, blisters, etc. 

What is Glycerol?

Glycerol is a simple polyol compound, which does not have any colour or smell. Glycerol is a non-toxic liquid that tastes sweet.

The backbone of glycerol is found in lipids known as glyceride. Glycerol has antimicrobial and antiviral properties which make it fit for the treatment of burns and wounds.

Glycerol is widely accepted for several skin treatments, constipation, obesity, meningitis stroke, improving hydration, etc., although there are no specifications of proper use of glycerol. Glycerol is also present in human tissues in the form of trivalent alcohol.

Glycerol is a volatile liquid and if it is left outside in contact with the environment it will vaporize even at room temperature.

Glycerol is biodegradable and when it is exposed to the environment it distributes among air, soil, or sediment. 

There are other improvisations done in glycerol for several treatments, for example, Intravenous glycerol is used for cerebral oedema and hence reduce intracranial pressure, iodinated glycerol is used in the treatment of respiratory disorders, it is also added to cough syrup to reduce the irritation in the throat, etc.

Glycerol can be consumed through mouth, or by applying on skin directly, for example for skin treatment it is applied on second directly, and in case of internal diseases like diarrhoea, or constipation it is consumed in form of an enema.

Along with advantages, there are several disadvantages of glycerol, those are; it can cause headache, dizziness, nausea when taken through the mouth. It can cause a skin rash, redness or burns the skin if applied directly on the skin.

It can cause damage to red blood cells if injected. Therefore, the use of glycerol should be done under medical supervision.

What is Glycerin?

Glycerin is the commercial name of glycerol which contains 95% of glycerol in it. Glycerin cannot be used interchangeably with glycerol.

Glycerin is a less pure form of glycerol. The chemical formula of glycerol and glycerin is the same but the nomenclature is different.

Glycerin is widely used in cosmetics, other than fragrances and water it is the most used product in the cosmetic industry. There are numerous products which include glycerin in it, especially in moisturizers and lotions.

The pure form of glycerin is also readily available in the market and people tend to buy it for direct use.

There are numerous advantages of using glycerin on the skin, those are; glycerin provides hydration to the skin, helps to improve barrier function and skin mechanical properties,  provides protection against skin irritation, also accelerates the healing process, etc. 

Glycerin is a humectant type of moisturizing agent which pulls water from the deeper layers of skin to the uppermost layer of skin which provides the hydration to the upper layer of skin. Glycerin is safe for consumption to certain limits and as it is used for sweetening, for thickening or as a preservative in numerous recipes.

It is always advisable to dilute the glycerin because it derives water from the lowest into the upper layer of the skin which might dehydrate the skin in future and it can dehydrate to a level of causing blisters.

 Glycerin has few disadvantages too, for example, it can cause rashes, redness, itching, burns, blisters, etc., it might not suit every skin type, therefore, it is advisable to get it prescribed by doctors before use.


Main Differences Between Glycerol and Glycerin

  1. Glycerol is a simple polyol compound which is in pure form on the other hand glycerin is 95% of glycerol in addition to other ingredients. 
  2. Glycerol is used more for internal cure purposes on the other hand glycerin is used more for the external purpose.
  3. Glycerol can cause nausea, dizziness, headache, etc., on the contrary glycerin can cause skin redness, rashes, blisters, etc.
  4. Glycerol is not available in the market in its pure form but glycerin is readily available in the market in a pure form. 
  5. Glycerol is used more in medications on the other hand glycerin is used in cosmetic products which are in use of daily life. 
Difference Between Glycerol and Glycerin
  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-199826030-00002
  2. https://aip.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1063/1.1747496
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