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56-81-5 Usage


Glycerol is used both in sample preparation and gel formation for polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Glycerol (5-10%) increases the density of a sample so that the sample will layer at the bottom of a gel’s sample well. Glycerol is also used to aid in casting gradient gels and as a protein stabilizer and storage buffer component.

Fire extinguishing agent

foam, dry powder, carbon dioxide, sand, mist water


As solvent, humectant, plasticizer, emollient, sweetener, in the manufacture of nitroglycerol (dynamite), cosmetics, liquid soaps, liqueurs, confectioneries, blacking, printing and copying inks, lubricants, elastic glues, lead oxide cements; to keep fabrics pliable; to preserve printing on cotton; for printing rollers, hectographs; to keep frost from windshields; as antifreeze in automobiles, gas meters and hydraulic jacks, in shock absorber fluids. In fermentation nutrients in the production of antibiotics. Pharmaceutic aid (humectant; solvent, vehicle). Leffingwell and Lesser (op. cit.) give 1583 different uses.

Acute toxicity

oral-rat LD50: 26000 mg/kg; oral-mouse LD50: 4090 mg/kg
Stimulate Data Skin-Rabbit 500 mg/24 Hour Mild; Eyes-Rabbit 126 mg Mild

Chemical Properties

Glycerol,CH20HCHOHCH20H, also known as glycerin and glycyl alcohol, is a clear, colorless, viscous liquid with a sweet taste.It is the simplest trihydroxy alcohol and a valuable chemical intermediary, It is soluble in water and alcohol, but only partially soluble in ether and ethyl acetate. Glycerol is used in perfume and medicine,as an antifreeze,and in manufacturing soaps and explosives.


ADI values are not subject to special provisions (FAO/WHO, 2001).
LD50:25g/kg (rat, oral).
It can be hydrolyzed, oxidized into nutrients inside the body. Even inhalation of 100 g dilute solution is also harmless. But a large amount of it can produce the ethanol-like anesthesia effect, and lead to high blood sugar.
GRAS (t} DA, § 182.1320, 2000);


Glycerol is used both in sample preparation and gel formation for polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Glycerol (5-10%) increases the density of a sample so that the sample will layer at the bottom of a gel’s sample well. Glycerol is also used to aid in casting gradient gels and as a protein stabilizer and storage buffer component.

General Description

A colorless to brown colored liquid. Combustible but may require some effort to ignite. Residual sodium hydroxide (lye) causes crude material to be corrosive to metals and/or tissue.

Adverse reactions

This product is non-toxic with large dose of oral administration being able to cause headaches, dizziness, thirst, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, but the symptoms are mostly mild and can disappears after bed rest.

Physical and chemical properties

Pure glycerol appears as colorless, odorless and sweet viscous liquid. Boiling point: 290 ° C, melting point: 17.9 ° C, the relative density: 1.2613. It can be miscible with water infinitely. It can be dissolved in 11 times ethyl acetate, about 500 times ether. It is insoluble in benzene, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, carbon disulfide, petroleum ether and oil. Anhydrous glycerol has a strong water absorption property.
Glycerol is weakly acidic, being able to react with alkaline hydroxide. For example, it reaction with copper hydroxide can produce bright blue cupric glycerinate (can be used to identify polyols). Glycerol can react with nitric acid to generate glyceryl trinitrate, also known as nitroglycerin, being a strong explosive.
Because glycerol has water absorption property, it is often used as the moisturizing agent of cosmetics, leather, tobacco, food and textile. Glycerol also has effect on lubricating the intestine, being able to be used for enema or suppository treatment of constipation. Nitroglycerides have the effect of dilating coronary arteries and can be used to treat angina. Nitroglycerin can be used as an explosive and propellant. Glycerol can react with binary acid to generate alkyd resin, widely being used in paints and coatings.
In nature, glycerol is widely presented in the form of esters. For example, a variety of animal and vegetable oils are glycerol carboxylate with hydrolyzing grease being capable to generate fatty acids and glycerol. At present, one of the major sources of glycerol is the byproduct of the soap industry (grease is hydrolyzed under alkaline conditions). The other major source is from petroleum pyrolysis gas, propylene.
glycerol structure
Figure 1 the glycerol structure.

Health Hazard

No hazard


ventilated, low temperature and dry


Diabetes patients should take with caution. High-concentration intravenous infusion (more than 30%) can cause hemolysis and hemoglobinuria. This product has hemolytic effect. During intravenous administration, avoid singly using this product, should instead combine with glucose or sodium chloride injection.

Explosive hazardous characteristics

It is explosive upon reaction with chromic anhydride, potassium chlorate and potassium permanganate.


Glycerol industrial production methods can be divided into two categories: method using natural oil as raw material with the resulting glycerol commonly known as natural glycerol; method using propylene as raw material with the resulting glycerol commonly known as synthetic glycerol. 1. Production of natural glycerol; before 1984, glycerol was all recovered from the by-products of soap manufacturing from grease of animals and plants. Until now, natural grease is still the main raw material for the production of glycerol with about 42% of the natural glycerol being made from by-products and 58% being made from fatty acids. Saponification of Oil in the soap Industry: The products in saponification reaction products are divided into two layers: the upper layer mainly contains fatty acid sodium salt (soap) and a small amount of glycerol, the lower layer is the waste lye, being the glycerol dilute solution containing salt and sodium hydroxide, generally containing 9-16% glycerol and 8-20% inorganic salt. Grease reaction: the glycerol water obtained from the grease hydrolysis (also known as sweet water) contains higher glycerol content than soap waste, being about 14-20% with 0-0.2% inorganic salt. In recent years, it has been widely applied of continuous high-pressure hydrolysis method. The reaction is free of catalyst and the obtained sweet water is generally free of inorganic acid, thus can be more easily purified than the waste lye. For both the soap waste liquid and the glycerol water obtained from oil hydrolysis, the glycerol is not high, and they contain all kinds of impurities. The production process of the natural glycerol includes purification, concentration to obtain crude glycerol, and refining process including crude glycerol distillation, decolorization and deodorization. This process is described in detail in some books. 2. The production of synthetic glycerol: those various pathways for glycerol synthesis from propylene can be summarized into two categories, namely chlorination and oxidation. Now the industry is still using propylene chlorination method and propylene non-periodic acetic acid oxidation method. (1) Propylene chlorination method: this is the most important production method of synthesizing glycerol, including a total of four steps, namely high-temperature propylene chlorination, chlorophenol hypochlorification, dichloropropanol saponification and epichlorohydrin hydrolysis. The production process of glycerol by epichlorohydrin hydrolysis is performed under 150 ° C and 1.37 MPa pressure of carbon dioxide in an aqueous solution of 10% hydroxide and 1% sodium carbonate. This can produce a glycerol aqueous solution containing 5-20% glycerol and sodium chloride, followed by concentration, desalting and distillation to obtain the glycerol with the purity of over 98%. (2) Method of propylene peracetic acid oxidation: propylene can interact with peracetic acid to generate propylene oxide with propylene oxide isomerization generating alkene to propanol. The latter reacts with peracetic acid to produce glycidyl alcohol (i.e. glycidyl), and finally hydrolyzed to glycerol. The production of peracetic acid does not require catalyst, acetaldehyde and oxygen gas phase oxidation. Under atmospheric pressure, 150-160 ℃ and the contact time of 24 s, the aldehyde has a conversion rate of 11% and the acetic acid has a selectivity of 83%. The latter two steps of the reaction can continuously proceeded in a special structure of the reaction distillation column. The raw material allyl alcohol and the ethyl acetate solution containing peracetic acid are sent to the column and the column is controlled at 60-70 ° C and 13-20 kPa. The top of the column can be evaporated of ethyl acetate solvent and water. At the tower kettle, we can obtain the glycerol aqueous solution. This method is selective and has high yield, taking peracetic acid as oxidant. It doesn’t need catalyst, and the reaction speed is high, simplifying the process. Production of 1t glycerol consumes 1.001 t allyl alcohol and 1.184 t peracetic acid with 0.947 t of acetic acid by-product. At present, both the production of natural glycerol and synthetic glycerol accounts of almost 50%. The propylene chlorination process accounts for about 80% of the total glycerol production. China's natural glycerol accounted for more than 90% of total output.

Occupational standard

TWA 15 mg/m3

Usage and Dosage

Oral: 0.5~1g/kg per time; 1 or 2 times per day; dubbed into the 50% saline solution. It can be used in combination during the intermittent periods of other dehydration drug. Intravenous injection or intravenous infusion: 1g/kg per time once a day, it can be dubbed into 10% glycerol or glycerol saline solution.

Reactivity Profile

GLYCERINE is incompatible with strong oxidizers. Glycerol is also incompatible with hydrogen peroxide, potassium permanganate, nitric acid + sulfuric acid, perchloric acid + lead oxide, acetic anhydride, aniline + nitrobenzene, Ca(OCl)2, CrO3, F2 + PbO, KMnO4, K2O2, AgClO4 and NaH. A mixture with chlorine explodes if heated to 158-176° F. Glycerol reacts with acetic acid, potassium peroxide, sodium peroxide, hydrochloric acid, (HClO4 + PbO) and Na2O2. Contact with potassium chlorate may be explosive. Glycerol also reacts with ethylene oxide, perchloric acid, nitric acid + hydrofluoric acid and phosphorus triiodide.


Flammable liquids

Pharmacological effects

This product can lubricate and stimulate the intestinal wall, soften the stool, making it easy to discharge. It also has dehydration effect. When formulated together with the sodium ascorbate as compound injection for intravenous administration, it can reduce the intraocular pressure. Its topical administration has moisture absorption property, and can soften the local tissue. It can dissolve borax, boric acid, phenol, nucleic acid, salicylic acid and so on. It is mainly used for the treatment of constipation of children, the elderly and weak, the rescue of general brain edema, treatment of glaucoma, chapped and stripped winter skin and so on.


ChEBI: A triol with a structure of propane substituted at positions 1, 2 and 3 by hydroxy groups.

Flammability and Hazardous characteristics

It is combustible in case of fire, high temperature and strong oxidant with combustion releasing stimulating smoke

Content analysis

Preparation of sodium periodate solution: 60 g of sodium periodate (NaIO4) was dissolved in an aqueous solution containing 120 mL of 0.1 mol/L sulfuric acid. The volume is adjusted to 1000 ml with water. If the solution is not clear, then filter it through a sintered glass funnel. The solution is stored in a shade container with a glass stopper. The suitability of the test solution was tested as follows.
Draw 10ml into a 250ml volumetric flask, and mix with water to set the volume. Take about 550 mg of glycerol to dissolve in 50ml of water. Use a pipette to add 50 mL of the above-mentioned dilute periodic acid solution 50 mL. Take another 50 ml of dilute periodic acid solution and add to a flask containing 50 ml of water as a control. Each solution was allowed to stand for 30 mins and 5 ml of hydrochloric acid and 10 ml of potassium iodide test solution (TS-192) were added and mixed. And then let stand for 5min, add water 100ml, use 0.1mol/L sodium thiosulfate liquid for titration, constantly shake and add a few drops of starch solution (TS-235) upon being close to the end, continue to titrate to the end.
The ratio of the volume of 0.1 mol/L sodium thiosulfate consumed in the glycerol/periodate mixture over the blank test solution is applicable at the range of 0.750 and 0.765.
Operation: accurately weigh about 400 mg of sample and place into a 600ml beaker, add 50 ml of water for dilution, adding a few drops of bromine thymol test solution (TS-56) and acidify the 0.2mol/L sulfuric acid to obviously green or greenish yellow. Use 0.05 mol/L sodium hydroxide to neutralize to the clear blue end point (no green). On the other hand, take 50 mL of water for neutralization according to the above operation as the blank test. 50 ml of the sodium periodate solution was aspirated with a pipette, added to each beaker, slowly shaken and mixed, and covered with a surface dish and placed in a dark place or at room temperature (no more than 35 ° C) for 30 min. Add 10% of the mixture of equal volume of ethylene glycol and water, and then let stand for 30min. The solutions were separately diluted with water to about 300 ml.
With the help of a pH meter pre-calibrated with a pH of 4.0 phthalate (salt) standard buffer solution, titrate the sample solution with 0.1 mol/L sodium hydroxide to pH8.1士0.1 and titrate the blank sample to pH 6.5 ± 0.1. Each mL of 0.1mol/L sodium hydroxide is equivalent to 9.210mg of glycerol (C3H8O3) corrected by the blank sample.

Preparation and specifications

Oral preparations: 50% glycerol; 0.9% sodium chloride solution; Injection: 9.263% glycerol 0.834% sodium chloride injection (glycerol sodium chloride injection). Medical glycerol suppository: obtained by absorbing glycerol using sodium stearate (soap) as a hardener. It contains about 90% glycerol with large type having a weight of 3 g and small type having a weight of about 1.5g. Glycerol solution: 10% glycerol sodium chloride solution, 10% glycerol glucose solution, 10% mannitol solution and 50% glycerol saline solution.

Glycerol esterification

Glycerol and fatty acids (saturated and unsaturated) are esterified to produce glycerides. The hydroxyl group can be subject to stepwise esterification during the reaction, forming (OH) 2 (OCOR), glycerol diester C3H5 (OH) (OCOR) 2 and triglyceride C3H5 (OCOR) 3.
the esterification of glycerol
Figure 2 shows the esterification of glycerol.
It is an important method to prepare glycerol monoester and diglyceride in industry by direct reaction with oleyl ester and glycerol to obtain a mixture of mono-, diglyceride and triglyceride, and then separate the glycerol monoester by distillation. The method can prepare a glycerol monoester having a purity of 90%. During the experiment, the fatty acid, through the acid chloride, can react with glycerol to produce glycerides.
Glycerol and inorganic acids can also have esterification reaction. The most important reaction is with nitric acid. Under the conditions of stringent cooling, glycerol is added drop wise to the mixed acid of concentrated nitric acid and concentrated sulfuric acid to form glyceryl trinitrate (see "Nitroglyceride").
This information is edited by Xiaonan from ChemicalBook.


It is a raw material for the production of nitroglycerin, acetic acid glycerol, surfactants, flavors, alkyds and ester gums. It can be directly used in antifreeze, cosmetics, inks, etc.
It can be used as water-retaining agent (used for bread and cake); carrier solvent (used in flavor, pigment and water-soluble preservative; thickener (used for drink and wine formulation); plasticizer (candy, desert and meat product); sweetener, gas chromatographic fixative.
EEC provides it can be used for alcoholic beverages, candy, cakes, coating glazing, meat and cheese coating, alcoholic beverages, bakery products, gelatin, gelatin and other sweets.
Glycerol is used both in sample preparation and gel formation for polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Glycerol (5-10%) increases the density of a sample so that the sample will layer at the bottom of a gel sample well. Glycerol is also used to aid in casting gradient gels and as a protein stabilizer and storage buffer component. Glycerol is an important basic organic raw material, being widely used in industrial, pharmaceutical and daily life. There are about 1700 kinds of applications, mainly for medicine, cosmetics, alkyd resin, tobacco, food, sour resin, explosives, textile printing and dyeing and so on. The demand of glycerol in alkyd resin, celluloid and explosives exhibits a downward trend. But its demand in medicine, cosmetics and food will continue to grow. In previous years, the compositions of glycerol consumption in China include: 35.7% in paint; 32.6% in toothpaste; 4.8% in cosmetics; 6% in cigarettes, 5.9% in medicine, 4.8% in polyether and 10.2% for the other. During the manufacture of drugs and cosmetics, glycerol is widely used to prepare a variety of preparations, solvents, moisture, antifreeze and sweeteners. The cyclization of glycerol and p-nitroaniline can generate 6-nitroquinoline. The monostearate obtained from the acidification between glycerol and stearic acid is a kind of excipient, used as the matrix of hydrophilic ointment. Glycerol can generate acrolein by elimination reaction, and has been used to produce methionine and glutaraldehyde. The potassium glycerol phosphate, sodium glycerophosphate, calcium glycerophosphate made from glycerol and phosphoric acid are all used as a nutritional medicine. Chlorination of glycerol can generate the intermediate monochloro-propylene glycol for the production of caffeine and guaiacol glycerol ether. Glycerol can participate in the cyclization and condensation of p-hydroxybenzaldehyde and, 4, 6-trihydroxy-3, 5-dimethyl benzophenone to obtain the expectorant cough medicine Rhododendron. Glycerol can be condensed with acetone to form 1, 2-isopropylidene glyceride. This can be used for the manufacture of shark liver alcohol used for increasing the count of white blood cell. Nitration of glycerol can generate glyceryl trinitrate, namely, vasodilator nitroglycerin. Glycerol can be reacted with 2, 5-diaminoanisole sulfate to give the intermediate 6-methoxy-4, 7-phenanthroline. Glycerol is also a raw material for the midrange marker 6-methoxy-7-nitroquinoline. Several quinoline derivatives were obtained from the reaction between glycerol and aromatic primary amines with such reactions being called skraup reactions. Another major application of glycerol is the preparation of alkyd resin. At present, the resin used in the paint around the world includes mainly alkyd resin, acrylic resin, vinyl resin and epoxy resin, among which, alkyd resin paint ranks first in both the United States and Japan. Glycerol accounts for 42% in the polyol used in the alkyd resin. Glycerol is easy to digest and non-toxic and can be used as a solvent, hygroscopic agent and vehicle for the food industry. For the seasoning and coloring food, because the glycerol is sticky, and can therefore contribute to food molding. During the rapid freezing of food, glycerol can be used as a direct medium of heat transfer for food. Glycerol is also a lubricant for food processing and packaging machinery. In addition, the application of polyglycerol and polyglycerol esters during the manufacture of crispy and margarine products is increasing year by year. Glycerol can be used in tobacco (mainly cigars) as a humectant to keep the moisture of the tobacco, to prevent embrittlement, and to increase the sweetness of tobacco. In the case of cigar paper and filter paper, it is used as a plasticizer in the form of triacetin. Glyceryl triacetate accounts for one third of the total consumption of glycerol in the tobacco industry. Between 1970 and 1986, the average annual growth rate of glycerol production in China was 5.3%, but the average annual growth rate of consumption in the same period was 7%. In 1983 – 1986, China imported a total of 52,400 tons of glycerol with the average annual import of 1.31 million tons, accounting for 1/4 of the annual consumption. Glycerol has been recognized as a non-toxic and safe substance with no harmful effect on human or animal upon oral administration of high-dose of natural glycerol. Intravenous injection of 5% glycerol solution to human also causes poisoning phenomenon. The national Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides that the glycerol content of water, when being higher than 1000mg/L, is harmless to the human body.

Air & Water Reactions

Hygroscopic. Water soluble.

Usage limit

FAO/WHO (1984, g/kg): Gotha cheese 5; edible ice and ice drinks 50.
FEMA (mg/kg): soft drink 570; cold drink 500; candy 980; baked goods 1300; pudding class 360; glue sugar 17~6000; meat 40; cake blooming 23000.

Fire Hazard

Glycerol is combustible.

56-81-5 Well-known Company Product Price

Brand (Code)Product description CAS number Packaging Price Detail
Supelco (CRM44892)  ASTM® D6584 Glycerin solution Green Alternative  certified reference material, 500 μg/mL in pyridine 56-81-5 CRM44892 367.38CNY Detail
USP (1295607)  Glycerin  United States Pharmacopeia (USP) Reference Standard 56-81-5 1295607-2ML 4,750.20CNY Detail
Sigma-Aldrich (49770)  Glycerol  puriss. p.a., ACS reagent, anhydrous, dist., ≥99.5% (GC) 56-81-5 49770-2.5L 2,617.29CNY Detail
Sigma-Aldrich (49770)  Glycerol  puriss. p.a., ACS reagent, anhydrous, dist., ≥99.5% (GC) 56-81-5 49770-1L 1,822.86CNY Detail
Sigma-Aldrich (49770)  Glycerol  puriss. p.a., ACS reagent, anhydrous, dist., ≥99.5% (GC) 56-81-5 49770-250ML 459.81CNY Detail
Sigma-Aldrich (77067)  Glycerol  analytical standard 56-81-5 77067-5ML 2,676.96CNY Detail
Sigma-Aldrich (77067)  Glycerol  analytical standard 56-81-5 77067-1ML 669.24CNY Detail
Sigma-Aldrich (PHR1020)  Glycerin  pharmaceutical secondary standard; traceable to USP and PhEur 56-81-5 PHR1020-5G 732.19CNY Detail
Vetec (V900122)  Glycerol  Vetec reagent grade, 99% 56-81-5 V900122-6X500ML 499.59CNY Detail
Vetec (V900122)  Glycerol  Vetec reagent grade, 99% 56-81-5 V900122-500ML 99.45CNY Detail
Sigma-Aldrich (G7757)  Glycerol  ReagentPlus®, ≥99.0% (GC) 56-81-5 G7757-20L 7,166.25CNY Detail
Sigma-Aldrich (G7757)  Glycerol  ReagentPlus®, ≥99.0% (GC) 56-81-5 G7757-5L 2,083.77CNY Detail



According to Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) - Sixth revised edition

Version: 1.0

Creation Date: Aug 12, 2017

Revision Date: Aug 12, 2017


1.1 GHS Product identifier

Product name glycerol

1.2 Other means of identification

Product number -
Other names Glycerin

1.3 Recommended use of the chemical and restrictions on use

Identified uses For industry use only. Solvents
Uses advised against no data available

1.4 Supplier's details

1.5 Emergency phone number

Emergency phone number -
Service hours Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm (Standard time zone: UTC/GMT +8 hours).

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