A neutral, colorless, odourless and sweet-flavoured viscous substance, glycerine (also spelled as glycerin) turns into a gummy paste when frozen. Glycerine is extremely "hygroscopic". In other words, this substance can absorb water from the atmosphere. For instance, when a bottle of unadulterated glycerine allowed coming in contact with air in your kitchen, this substance will absorb moisture from the atmosphere and in the end, become much diluted solution containing 80 percent of glycerine and 20 percent of water.
Since glycerine possesses hygroscopic property, placing 100 percent pure glycerine on your tongue may cause blister formation. This is primarily because this substance is dehydrating - it will take up water from the tongue. However, when it is diluted by adding water and applied to the skin, glycerine makes the skin softer.
It is important to note that though most people are of the view that glycerine softens the skin by drawing moisture from the air to the skin, currently there is a raging debate on whether or not glycerine actually has some other individual attributes that are beneficial for the skin.
The most common use of glycerine is in the manufacture of soaps and various beauty products such as lotions. However, it is also used as nitro-glycerine to make the explosive dynamite.
The humectant property (ability to take up water from the surroundings) has made glycerine a popular ingredient in beauty products. In other words, glycerine possesses the aptitude to prevent moisture loss. Apart from being used as an ingredient in soaps, glycerine is also used in soap by-products as well. In fact, several soap manufacturers take out glycerine during the process of soap making and store it for use in other more costly products. Although some amount of glycerine still remains in all bar soaps, manufacturers often add more of it with a view to give their product a clear finish as well as additional moisturizing qualities. The addition glycerine in soaps also increases their cleaning ability.
Over the years, the sources from which glycerine is obtained have changed. For instance, commercial candle-making was the only source of glycerine in 1889. During those days, candles were made using animal fat, which were also a source for obtaining glycerine. Extraction of glycerine is a very complex process and it can be done in two different ways. The easiest way of obtaining glycerine is to blend fat with lye. When these two substances are combined, it results in soap production and glycerine can be removed from the blend during the process.
It is worth mentioning here that glycerine has a number of uses and it can also be employed in various ways. For instance, you can mix glycerine with other natural substances and apply the blend to your skin for utmost benefit. In fact, when mixed with rosewater, glycerine makes a wonderful toner. A cleanser made by blending lemon with glycerine will help to get rid of all dirt from your skin. Alternatively, you can also apply glycerine directly to your skin.
Glycerine is widely used in ointments and lotions in the form of a softening agent or preservative. In addition, it also forms a vital ingredient in several skin care products like soaps, body scrubs, and lotions. This is because glycerine can retain moisture. Glycerine perfectly suits all types of skin.
Glycerine is not a toxic substance and, hence, it is safe for use in skin care products that are especially meant for infants and children. It has been proved to be among the most resourceful ingredients that are used in beauty products, as glycerine does not lose its chemical composition even when it is combined with other substances. At the same time, it helps to prolong the viability of products in which it is used. Different from many other skin care products, especially those that may be coarse or may result in allergic reactions or irritations, glycerine does not cause any allergic reactions. Even people with very sensitive skin can use products containing glycerine without any risk.
Glycerine helps to enhance as well as protect dehydrated skin by means of filling the intercellular matrix. At the same time, it assists in developing a smooth and consistent skin structure. Since glycerine possesses hygroscopic and humectant (ability to retain water) properties, it is the best remedy for dry skin. Even beauty products containing glycerine are just perfect for dry skin. Glycerine draws the appropriate amount of moisture that is needed to keep dry skin hydrated. Moreover, glycerine produces a barrier on the skin's surface and, by this means it helps to prevent moisture loss from the skin.