: a sweet syrupy hygroscopic trihydroxy alcohol C3H8O3 usually obtained by the saponification of fats and used especially as a solvent and plasticizer, as a moistening agent, emollient, and lubricant, and as an emulsifying agent—called also glycerin
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.