Uses for glycerin

Updated July 19, 2017

Glycerine is a thick liquid that has a variety of uses. It's used both in industry and personal homes, and pure glycerine can be purchased in bottled form, while various household items containing glycerine are common. In particular, glycerine is well-known as a common soap ingredient.


Also known as glycerol, glycerine is a syrupy liquid that is neutral, nontoxic, sweet-tasting and colourless. It absorbs water from the air, which means that it's dehydrating unless diluted, in which case it's capable of softening skin.

Cosmetic Uses

One of the most common uses of glycerine is in soap. It's possible to make soap with glycerine in your own home. It's also used to make moisturisers, skin creams, lotion, deodorant and make-up such as mascara and lipstick.

Medical Uses

There are numerous pharmaceutical uses for glycerine, including anesthetics, cough medicine, capsules and medication for ear infections. Glycerine can be applied topically to help recover from conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

Household Uses

Glycerine is used to preserve various kinds of food, including meat, cheese, cakes, candies and dry food. Because glycerine is a natural solvent, it can also be used to clean up sticky spills.

Other Uses

Another common use for glycerine is to make nitroglycerine, which is in turn used to make dynamite. However, glycerine on its own is completely safe, both nontoxic and nonexplosive. Glycerine can be used for crafts, such as to make an air-drying clay called cold porcelain, and it's used in the textile industry to soften fibres.

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About the Author

Emily Willis is a university student who began writing in 2009, primarily with eHow. Currently, she is working on obtaining a B.A. in English from the University of Portland.