| IUPAC name
| Preferred IUPAC name
| Other names
|Molar mass||92.09 g/mol|
|Appearance||Colorless viscous liquid|
|Melting point||17.8 °C (64.0 °F; 290.9 K)|
|Boiling point||290 °C (554 °F; 563 K)|
|Solubility|| Miscible with ethanol, methanol, propylene glycol|
Insoluble in acetone, benzene, carbon disulfide, CCl4, chloroform, diethyl ether, petroleum ether, THF, vegetable oils
|Vapor pressure||0.003 mmHg (50°C)|
|Safety data sheet||Sigma-Aldrich|
|Flash point|| 160 °C (320 °F; 433 K) (closed cup)|
176 °C (349 °F; 449 K) (open cup)
| Ethylene glycol|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Glycerol, alternatively spelled glycerin, or glycerine, is a simple sugar alcohol sometimes used as a solvent. It is a polyol, consisting of a propane molecule with one hydrogen on each of the carbons being substituted by a hydroxyl group.
Glycerol is sometimes used as a laboratory solvent, though this is made difficult by its high viscosity. It is also used in the manufacture of the well-known explosive nitroglycerin.
When glycerin is heated to 280 °C, it decomposes into acrolein:
- (CH2OH)2CHOH → CH2=CHCHO + 2 H2O
It can also be used as an inert solvent for producing extracts from plants or carrying out organic reactions.
Glycerol is a colorless, viscous, and odorless liquid at room temperature with a mild sweet taste similar to artificial sweeteners. It is soluble in water, but has limited solubility in most organic solvents such as acetone, chloroform, and diethyl ether. It is hygroscopic.
Glycerol can be found in many pharmacies and grocery stores where it is used as "skin protectant". As with many medical and health products, it is sold at a very high markup, which means that buying glycerol online from certain wholesalers is actually much cheaper.
Glycerol is produced by the hydrolysis, or saponification, of plant and animal fats using a strong base, such as sodium hydroxide. It is usually simpler to purchase it rather than go through the process of purifying the product from this reaction, though.
- Make formic acid
- Make nitroglycerin
- Make allyl alcohol
- Make acrolein
- Make copper-polyol complex
Glycerol is more-or-less nontoxic, as it is an important biological chemical. Food-grade glycerol can be tasted for those that are curious, though external medicinal grades cannot be guaranteed safe for consumption (Sciencemadness user Ave369 used medical grade glycerol to soften homemade vodka, and nothing bad happened to her).
Glycerol should be stored in sealed bottles, as it is hygroscopic and it is extremely difficult to remove the water.
Glycerol poses little toxicity to the environment and can be safely poured down the drain.