Clear, colourless, viscous, sweet-tasting liquid organic compound of the alcohol family, chemical formula HOCHCHOHCHOH. With three hydroxyl (OH) groups, it can form three types of esters (monoglycerides, diglycerides, and triglycerides). Mono- and diglycerides are common food additives. Fats and oils are triglycerides; their processing into soap was the chief source of glycerol until the mid-20th century, when industrial synthesis took over. Glycerol has thousands of uses, including as an emulsifier, softening agent, plasticizer, and stabilizer in baked goods, ice cream, and tobacco; in skin lotions, mouthwashes, and cough medicines; as a protective medium for freezing red blood cells, sperm, corneas, and other tissues; in printing inks and in the gums and resins in paints and coatings; in antifreeze mixtures; as a nutrient in fermentation; and as a raw material for nitroglycerin.
Variants of GLYCEROL
glycerol or glycerin
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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