I bought years ago a big bottle of glycerol from an online store. I was looking for natural ingredients to be used for my lotions. Luckily, I selected bigger package. After using a teaspoonful of glycerol, as stated in recipe, there was still 3 deciliters left. How could I ever use such an amount of glycerol? Why didn’t I select the size of a package more carefully?
After deeper investigation I found so many new ways to use glycerol. Nowadays I always store at least half a liter of glycerol in my closet. I am using it in several ways.
What do I do with such a big quantity of glycerol? I will tell you shortly!
What is glycerol?
Glycerol aka glycerin is together with fatty acids the most important component of all fats. Sounds like a very simple and natural product, don’t you think? Chemical composition of glycerol is sugar alcohol. It has some similar features like ethyl alcohol, a product we all know. It is sweet-tasting gel-like liquid. It dissolves into water and blends well with oil. You can use it both in water-based products and in completely water-free products.
What raw materials are used in glycerol production?
Glycerol is usually produced of organic material meaning plant- or animal fats. There is also synthetic glycerol available. Just producing the synthetic glycerol does not make sense, it would be very expensive.
Synthetic glycerol is a byproduct of biodiesel. This glycerol is a kind of a waste and there is plenty of it available with cheap price.
Good quality glycerol is usually made out of plants. Soy and palm oil are most common sources. These 2 plants are now under controversial discussion. Most of the soy is nowadays genetically manipulated, especially soy that is used as raw material for biodiesel. Soy farming is also claiming areas from rainforests in South America.
Palm oil an glycerol
The other source is palm oil. Palm oil production is destroying rainforests as well. Palm oil is produced in Malaysia and Indonesia. Diversified biotopes are being destroyed because of palm oil production. There are usually serious issues concerning land ownership in palm oil production. Native inhabitants are forced to leave their homes without any compensation, or in case something is offered it is very little. New settlement contains heavy machine owned by a multi-million-dollar company destroying the forest.
Should we stop using glycerol?
You can make up your mind and stop using glycerol. But wait! Responsible producers have decided to make correction in the production. There is now also ethically accepted glycerol available that is made of field mustard. You can find it from online stores. There is also glycerin fermented from organic corn available. Both glycerol is good quality, clean product. Also, certified natural cosmetic producers are using only ethically produced glycerol.
Do it yourself-cosmetics, use only ethically accepted components
Non-organic mass-produced cosmetic products contain only glycerol made of soy or palm oil. This is one of the most important reasons why I want to prepare my own cosmetics by myself. I want to select raw materials by myself. I want to decide myself all ethical values of cosmetics I am using. I also want to prepare exactly suitable amount of different ingredients for my skin. Easiest way to do it is to prepare lotion, washing water and toothpaste by myself.
How glycerol works
One of the most important features of glycerol is humectant. Glycerol can absorb water from air and hold water molecules. It can hold water equal to its own weight. Glycerol is very moisturizing, and is very gentle to skin and scalp. That is why it is so popular in cosmetics.
Glycerol keeps the skin moisture
If you pour water on your skin, it gets wet. Your skin looks very flourishing a while. But the water will dry off in minutes. You may be thinking how to keep your skin moisturized. You can use glycerol mixed with water. By doing this you can keep your skin moisturized and it looks flourishing for long time.
Glycerol act as a solvent in cosmetic products
As alcohol in general, glycerol act as a solvent. A herb extract dissolved by glycerol is called glycerite. Glycerite based extracts are not as long lasting as extracts based on alcohol and they do not have preservative features. Alcohol is not as gentle as glycerol. That is why I select more often glycerol for my herb extracts, especially when I want to use it for lotion or toner.
Glycerol dissolves completely with water
You can mix glycerol to your toner or any other water-based product without any problems.
Glycerol blends well with fats and oils
You can mix glycerol with water-free oils without problems.
Glycerol is very gentle
Because of glycerol’s natural substance it is well tolerated. I do not know if anyone is oversensitive to glycerol but everything is naturally possible. If you have any doubts, just test a glycerol/water mix on your skin: 50 % water and 50 % glycerol. This is easy way to find out if glycerol suits to you. Persons already sensitized are using glycerol/water mix as toner. Never use glycerol without blending it with water, it absorbs moisture also from skin. Using raw glycerol on your skin may cause serious drying. So always blend glycerol with water, a 50/50 mix is recommendable.
Where and how glycerol is used
- Glycerol is nontoxic so it is used in food industry. It preserves the moisture of products.
- Glycerol is widely used in toothpastes as thickener and sweetener. There has been a critical conversation about glycerol’s harmful influence on dental enamel. Critics say the glycerol attach itself to dental enamel and it requires at least 30 tooth washings until glycerol is gone. It is also said that glycerol prevents dental enamel to renew itself. Well, dental enamel do not renew itself anyhow.
- Almost all industrial lotions. cleansing liquids and toners contain glycerol. It is cheap, nurturant, well tolerated and usually makes the structure of the product better. Glycerol is colorless and has no odor.
- Extracting of herbs is well-known thing to many people who prepare home cosmetics by themselves. I haven’t got time to make a separate blog about that but it is coming. Most common base for extract is alcohol or oil. Glycerol is the 3rd option that is usually forgotten. Why don’t you try next a glycerol extract?
- As a incredient for various use
- Glycerol is a good additive to lotions and salves. Adding it to a moisturizing lotion makes a big difference. Use glycerol as it is or prepare an extract.
- Glycerol is at its best in toners because it is a humectant. It keeps the skin moisturized. Hyaluronic acid works the same way but it is much stronger and may cause some problems. You can get hooked in moisturizing ingredients and at the end they may make your skin much more dryer when absorbing moisture out of your skin. Maximum level of glycerol in toners should be no more than 10 %.
- Glycerites prepared from fresh plants make a great facial cleansing mask. Have a look on recipes-page.
- You can blend glycerol together with aloe vera and make a great lotion for irritated skin and sunburns. Glycerol is antibacterial so it treats also inflamed skin.
Glycerol is sugar alcohol. It is sweet and bit sticky as sugar. You can take advantage of this in many products.
- Easiest way to prepare a hairspray that increase volume is to blend glycerol and water. Glycerol gives better structure to your hair – when used reasonable.
- You can treat electricity in your hair by glycerol. When hair is drying, they will become electric. Glycerol spray will deduct electricity in hair because it starts to absorb moisture from the air. Do not spray too much glycerol on your hair, it makes your hair look greasy. You can blend glycerol to coconut oil as well. Rub a small quantity of the mixture to your hair to prevent electricity.
- Because glycerol is sticky it helps the make-up to stay on your skin. Prepare a primer by mixing glycerol with lotion. You can also try to rub gently few drops of glycerol on your clean face.
Glycerol has countless number of good features and there are many ways to use it in cosmetic products. Did you know that you can use glycerol also for erasing dirt, making soap bubbles, preparing a soap, and washing floors? Now you understand half a liter of glycerol is not much.
Did you find any new ideas how to use glycerol?