Vegetable glycerine comes to us through a very complex and sophisticated method of extraction known as Hydrolysis, and the end product that we refer to as “Vegetable Glycerine” is usually the by-product of another oils production. The basics of this system is that the fats and oils of a raw ingredient (usually vegetable oils) are split into crude glycerol fats, under the combined action of water, temperature and pressure. These temperatures can exceed 400° degrees and the material is usually kept under pressure for 20-30 minutes. What is actually occurring is a sort of “counter-flow” where the water absorbs glycerol from the fatty acid phase of the oil production. After this phase this glycerol is isolated and further distilled to give buyers a standard 99% Glycerine product.
Vegetable Glycerine is a clear, colorless, and odorless liquid with an incredibly sweet taste having the consistency of thick syrup. It is used as an agent in cosmetics, toothpaste, shampoos, soaps, herbal remedies, pharmaceuticals, and other household items. Because it is soluble in both, water and alcohol, its versatility is a major benefactor in its purported growth and popularity within the manufacturing sector. It is invaluable as a natural source ingredient with emollient like properties which can soften and soothe the skin and it assists the outer epidermis is retaining moisture. This helps to explain why it is one of the most popular cosmetic additives used today.
Other uses include its solvency action which aides herbalists in extracting botanical properties from plant materials without the use of alcohol. This is especially helpful for those with alcohol sensitivities as most liquid herbal extracts contain alcohol. But given its severely limited shelf life, extracts made from Vegetable Glycerine typically have a shelf life of 14-24 months whereas alcohol extracts can have an extended shelf life of 4-6 years.