Refined glycerine, or glycerol, has a wide range of applications in the food, pharmaceutical, medical and personal care industries, as well as a variety of industrial and scientific uses.
In foods and beverages, glycerol serves as a humectant, solvent, and artificial sweetener. It is also used as filler in commercially prepared low-fat foods, and as a thickening agent in liqueurs.
Glycerol is used in medical, pharmaceutical and personal care preparations mainly as a means of improving smoothness, providing lubrication, and as a humectant. It is found in allergen immunotherapies, cough syrups, elixirs and expectorants, toothpaste, mouthwashes, skin care products, shaving cream, hair care products, glycerin soaps and water-based personal lubricants. Nitroglycerin is the most commonplace treatment for chronic angina, the chest pain of heart disease.
Topical pure or nearly pure glycerol is an effective treatment for psoriasis, burns, bites, cuts, rashes, bedsores, and calluses. It can be used orally to eliminate halitosis, as it is a contact bacterial desiccant. The same property makes it very helpful with periodontal disease; it penetrates biofilm quickly and eliminates bacterial colonies.
In surface science, glycerol is shown to reduce the coefficient of friction of polymer-coated surfaces by several orders of magnitude. It is also used as an alcohol-free alternative to ethanol as a solvent in preparing herbal extractions.
Glycerol is used to produce nitroglycerin, or glyceryl tinitrate (GTN), which is an essential ingredient of smokeless gunpowder and various explosives such as dynamite, gelignite, and propellants like cordite.