Glycerin Uses, Sources and How it’s Made

Refined glycerin 99.7% is used in a wide range of applications over several industries.  In the personal care industry, glycerin is used as an emollient, a moisturizer, and as a humectant just to name a few.  The pharmaceutical industry uses glycerin as an excipient for it’s lubricity, sweetening, and thickening properties.  In food we see glycerin valued for its flavor enhancing ability, as a humectant, and as a preservative.

Here's a snapshot of the industries and uses that Univar services with its broad glycerin portfolio:

glycerin uses

Glycerin is a globally produced product with concentrations in Europe, Southeast Asia, South America, and the United States.  One important fact to keep in mind is that even though glycerin is produced globally and used in thousands of different applications, it is only produced as a byproduct of other manufacturing processes.  In other words, glycerin is not produced intentionally.

There are two primary manufacturing processes that produce glycerin as a byproduct.  The first, and smaller of the two, is the chemical manufacturing process that uses base oils such as palm oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil to produce fatty acids and fatty alcohols.  The second, and by far the larger, is bio-diesel production which uses these same oils as well as oils such as soy, rapeseed, and olive to produce methyl esters, which in turn can be blended into diesel fuel to produce a bio-diesel product.

Univar offers 12 grades or types of glycerin to cover a variety of applications. The most popular types are:

With approximately 900 sales professionals covering the United States and a dedicated oleochemicals team with 120+ years of experience standing behind them, Univar Solutions is well-positioned to assist our clients in the selection of the right glycerin products for their applications.

Contact Univar Solutions for all your oleochemical needs.