Q&A: Is Glycerin Vegan?

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Ever wonder how TV soap actors cry on command? Well, the magic lies in a small bottle – filled with sweet-tasting, colourless, thick liquid. A drop of which, when applied to the eyes produces tears. That liquid is none other than Glycerin, the instant tear jerker!

Apart from ruling the TV soap industry since forever, glycerin also has many utilities. It is used as an active ingredient in food processing, cosmetics, body lotions, and many other products. However, you might want to know the composition of the Glycerin and whether it's vegan.

What is Glycerin?

Often referred to as Glycol or Glycerol, Glycerin is a thick gelatinous, odourless liquid, which dissolves in water completely and is low on toxic levels. Glycerin is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs water from the air and makes it an important ingredient when added to foods, especially baked items and cosmetics, to preserve the moistness. And because of this, it is used for various purposes like storing of fruits, a base for lotions, some printing inks, making cakes and candies etc.

There are two ways by which glycerine can be extracted – vegetable oil from plants and the fat from animals.

Plant-based (Vegetable Oil)

The oils are placed under the combined force of pressure, temperature, and water. The pressure causes it o split from a fatty acid and be absorbed by water. Vegetable glycerine has a texture similar to an oil or syrup due to its organic makeup. The same is used in food applications and household products which include lotions, shampoo, toothpaste, and is sweet in taste. Coming from plants makes it Vegan and suitable for consumption.

Animal bases (Fat)

The tallow (Which comes from beef or mutton fat) is mixed with water and is heated over medium to low temperature till it is thick. Then, the mixture is cooled overnight in the refrigerator. The hardened mixture then can be either boiled to remove excess water or strained to remove impurities and can even be used as it is in soaps, lotions, or hair products. Which is why it's so important to pay attention to the labels and make sure your glycerin is plant-based.


Generally, when used in food and related items, it is the vegetable glycerin that is used. But, there is no fool-proof way to be sure about the same because there are many instances of it being made from animal fat. Hence, always check the label and look at the list of ingredient to find “Vegetable glycerin” or contact the manufacturer.


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