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Is Glycerin Safe to Eat?

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: June 10, 2022

Glycerin is a popular food additive that can be found in everything from candy to salad dressing. But what is glycerin, and is it safe to eat?

In this blog post, we will teach you everything you need to know about glycerin. We will discuss what glycerin is, how it interacts with our bodies, and whether or not it is safe to eat.

What Exactly Is Glycerin?

if you've seen glycerin before, you might have noticed that it is a clear, odorless, and relatively tasteless substance. Glycerin is a sugar alcohol that is made from fats and oils. It is commonly used as a food additive because it can help to keep food moist and prevent spoiling.

You can make glycerin from a number of different sources like animal products, petroleum, or plants. It was first used commercially in the 1800s as an ingredient in dynamite.

Glycerin is also used in many cosmetics and skin care products because it can help to keep skin hydrated. You might find glycerin in lotions, creams, soaps, and other beauty products.

The FDA, as well as the World Health Organization and European Union, have all approved the use of glycerin in foods and for human consumption.

What Is Glycerin Used For?

Glycerin is in just about everything. You'll find it in foods and in cosmetic products and it is used to sweeten food, maintain moisture, and extend the shelf life of products.

It's actually the third most used substance in cosmetic products but you can add it to food and it's perfectly safe to eat.

When glycerin is added to drinks, and even some foods, it can act as a sweetener and a preservative. It also has the ability to act as a humectant which means it helps foods to retain moisture.

Glycerin can also be used as a laxative or stool softener. It can help to treat constipation by drawing water into the intestines and softening the stool.

Because glycerin is perfectly safe to eat there have been studies that show the potential benefits for people who consume glycerin.

Are There Any Benefits to Consuming Glycerin?

Although glycerin still needs more studies done to prove its effectiveness, below are some ways that glycerin may benefit the body after consumption.

Skin Health

We mentioned above how glycerin acts as a humectant which means it helps foods and other products retain moisture. The same can be said for the effect glycerin has on the skin. When you consume glycerin, it can help to lock in moisture and keep your skin hydrated.

This is why you'll often find glycerin in lotions, creams, and other beauty products. Glycerin can also help to treat a number of different skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

Aids in Digestion

Glycerin can also help to keep your digestive system healthy. As we mentioned before, glycerin is often used as a laxative or stool softener because it can help to soften the stool and draw water into the intestines. This can help to treat constipation and make it easier to have a bowel movement.

In addition to helping with constipation, glycerin can also help to treat diarrhea. Glycerin works by drawing water into the intestines which can help to solidify loose stools.

Athletic Performance

It has been established that glycerin helps to retain moisture but this quality can actually be helpful in athletic performance.

Athletes expend an enormous amount of energy which can lead to dehydration. Glycerin can help to prevent dehydration by drawing water into the cells and keeping the body hydrated.

It has also been shown that glycerin can help to improve blood flow which can be beneficial for athletes. Improved blood flow means more oxygen is being delivered to the muscles which can lead to improved performance.

What Are the Risks of Glycerin?

There aren't many serious side effects that you need to watch out for with glycerin but some people may experience a negative experience after consumption.

There have been rare cases of people who are allergic to glycerin so it is always a good idea to seek medical attention if you feel you could be having an allergic reaction to glycerin.

Here are some of the potential side effects to watch out for with glycerin:

  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • mild headache
  • nausea
  • thirst
  • diarrhea

Although glycerin is known to actually help some of these symptoms if you have too much or your body doesn't agree with the compound, you may experience these side effects.

Before applying glycerin to the skin, make sure to do a patch test to determine if there is any allergic reaction in the area. If you do not see any reaction it is safe to move forward with the application.


Is glycerin vegan?

Not all glycerin will be vegan, you will have to get vegetable glycerin to ensure it meets the requirements of the vegan lifestyle.

Is glycerin the same as sugar?

No, glycerin is not the same as sugar. Sugar is a carbohydrate that provides energy for the body while glycerin is a compound that is used in foods and cosmetic products.

Is glycerin a natural ingredient?

Yes, glycerin is a natural ingredient. You can make glycerine from animal products, plants, or petroleum.

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