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Glycerol Formula

Last updated date: 27th Feb 2024
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What is the Glycerol Formula?

Glycerol is also referred to as glycerin, which is a basic polyol compound. Glycerol is a colourless, odourless, and viscous liquid that is non-toxic and sweet-tasting. In certain lipids, the glycerol backbone is found which is referred to as triglycerides.

The chemical formula for Glycerol is: \[C_{3}H_{8}O_{3}\]

Glycerol is a polyol, a compound that contains more than one group of hydroxyls. There are three hydroxyl groups in its chemical structure, which are -OH groups bound to the carbon atoms. Glycerol has 3 Carbon atoms, 3 Oxygen atoms, and 8 Hydrogen atoms. Glycerol formula is given with its structural and extended chemical formula. Glycerine or glycerine is also known as glycerol is a viscous, colourless, non-toxic and simple triol compound. Glycerol is used in dermatological treatments and glycerin or glycerol has several benefits and is also used in the food industry as a preservative and sweetener.  Glycerol has the role as an osmolyte, a solvent, a detergent, a human metabolite, a saccharomyces cerevisiae metabolite, an escherichia coli metabolite, a mouse metabolite, an algal metabolite and a geroprotector. Glycerol is a trigol and alditol.

Glycerin, the name of glycerol, is a triol compound that is an essential part of lipids from plants and animals. It is a dermatologist for dermatological treatments. Glycerol, in recent times we largely use as a biofuel. Also, glycerol is a simple polyol compound. And scientists find its backbone in those lipids that we know as glycerides. Glycerol has antiviral and antimicrobial properties that's why industries widely used them in FDA approved wound and burn treatments

Glycerin is localised with osmotic diuretic and laxative effects and it is trihydroxy alcohol. By extracting water from tissues into interstitial fluid and plasma, glycerin elevates the blood plasma osmolality. The compound made by glycerol by some reaction Glycerin, this agent also prevents water reabsorption in the proximal tubule in the kidney leading to an increase in water and sodium excretion and a reduction in blood volume. By attracting water into the rectum, glycerin exerts a hyperosmotic laxative effect, thereby relieving constipation. 

Glycerol's Occurrence

Glycerol is a triglyceride that is present in many plants such as soybean, palm and animals. Also, we can produce glycerol with the help of industrial methods to produce it from saponification or hydrolysis of triglycerides.

Glycerol Structural Formula:  

Glycerol, with three carbon atoms and three hydroxyl groups, is a trihydroxy sugar alcohol. It is an organic polyol compound with the IUPAC name of 1, 2, 3-Propanetriol because of the inclusion of various hydroxyl groups and carbon atoms. Because of the hydroxyl (-OH) groups bound to the carbon atoms, glycerol is soluble in water. The hygroscopic aspect of glycerol is also responsible for these hydroxyl groups, which ensures that it quickly retains or takes up water.

The structure of glycerol can be represented as:

The simplest structure of glycerol is depicted above, showing three carbon atoms, each covalently bonded to a hydroxyl group, as the basic backbone. Alternatively, as seen below, the molecule can be depicted as a Fischer projection, based on the second carbon atom.

(Image will be Updated soon)

Moreover, without the explicit description of the hydrogen atoms, the molecule can be seen with a more precise depiction of bond angles.

(Image will be Updated soon)

In the glycerol molecule, we have 3 carbon chains with 3 hydroxyl groups(OH) attached to each of them. In the molecule, carbon atoms have an sp3 configuration and so, the molecule has free rotation.

Also, the glycerol is soluble in water and is hygroscopic. This compound is important and its backbone is found in all lipids known as triglycerides. Glycerol's use ranges from pharmaceuticals to the food industry and in cosmetics(like soaps).

Glycerol's production

To produce glycerol,  the triglycerides undergo hydrolysis, saponification, transesterification, also the fatty acid derivative.

Glycerol Molecular Formula:

The Molecular formula of Glycerol is referred to as \[C_{3}H_{8}O_{3}\] OR \[CH_{2}OH-CHOH-CH_{2}OH\].

The molecular weight of glycerol is 92.09 g/mol. Glycerol is a triol with a propane structure placed by hydroxy groups at positions 1, 2, and 3. The glycerol density is 1.261 g/ml. Its boiling point is 290 degrees Celsius and 17.8 degrees Celsius is its melting point. These values mean that glycerol is denser than water (because the density of water is 1 g/mL), its boiling point is higher than water (the boiling point of water is 100 degrees Celsius) and its melting point is higher than water (water has a melting point of 0 degrees Celsius). Due to the capacity of the polyol groups to form hydrogen bonds with water molecules, glycerol is easily soluble in water. With a specific gravity of 1.26, glycerol is significantly denser than water. That implies that it will fall to the bottom when glycerol is poured into a container of water. Owing to its solubility, however, glycerol can form an aqueous solution over time and with moderate agitation.

Glycerol's Preparation

Preparation of glycerol, industries and laboratories extract the from animals and plant tissues. Production of glycerol is greater than before in recent years because of its capacity to be used as a biofuel(combustible alternative of fossil fuel). Also, we have some other organic synthetic procedures to produce glycerol.

As an example, the production of glycerol from acrolein involves the first oxidation of propene to acrolein, which is followed by a reduction to yield allyl alcohol. In the last second step, this alcohol reacts in the presence of hydrogen peroxide to form glycidol through epoxidation. In the final step, we do hydrolysis of glycidol to glycerol.

 Chemical Formula of Glycerol

In the chemical formula of glycerol, we have 3 carbon atoms, 8 hydrogens, and 3 oxygen atoms. The molecular weight of glycerol is 92.09g/mol and the IUPAC name is 1,2,3-Propanetriol or 1,2,3-Trihydroxypropane.  Due to the presence of 3 hydroxyl groups, it has a high solubility in water and other polar protic solvents because of its capacity to form hydrogen bonds. And for its hygroscopic character, the hydroxyl group is responsible. As a precursor for the biosynthesis of triglycerides mediated by various enzymes such as glycerol kinase, glycerol present in lipids is a precursor.

Glycerol's Uses

  1. We use glycerol to power diesel generators supplying electricity.

  2. In the film industry, when filming scenes involving water to stop areas from drying out too quickly.

  3. In ultrasonic testing, we use glycerol as a replacement for water.

  4. To produce hydrogen gas, we have used glycerol.

  5. Glycerin is used as a solvent, humectant and vehicle in various pharmaceutical preparations.

  6. Glycerol is used in pharmaceutical and personal care formulations as emollient and hydrant, such as in glycerin soaps and laxatives.

  7. They widely use it in the preparation of polyacrylamide electrophoresis gel for proteins in molecular biology laboratories.

  8. Also for storing biosamples, we use themes preservation crio-agents.

  9. Glycerol is also used as a sweetener and preserver in foods, particularly, industries use it as an alternative to sugar as it comprises lesser calories in industry.

  10. Also, glycerol has a very important use as antifreeze for cars and to produce explosive components such as trinitroglycerin.

Physical Properties of Glycerine

This compound appears as a colourless to brown coloured liquid. Also, this compound is combustible but may require some effort to ignite.

Physical properties of glycerol

Glycerol is very similar to syrup, it is clear, colourless and a very viscous liquid. And its melting point is about -20 degrees celsius the sublimation point is -290 degrees celsius, and 1.250g/m/l is its density and it is highly hygroscopic. And glycerol is familiar to water, easily soluble and is combustible but does not ignite easily.

Safety hazards and glycerol health

Eye damage can be caused by glycerol. Glycerol is extremely combustible and can explode if heated. Also, it is incombustible with potassium permanganate, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen peroxide and nitrobenzene.


The glycerol which is also referred to as glycerine has a formula C3H8O3. In the food industry and personal care products, glycerol is mainly found. It is also used to create explosives as antifreeze and also as one of the ingredients. We will address the different uses of glycerol in this segment. Glycerol is also used as a raw material for Hydrogen Production.

FAQs on Glycerol Formula

1.Can We Use Glycerol on Our Skin?

Yes, we can use glycerol on our skin. Glycerol is a moisturising agent, a type of moisturising agent that draws water from deeper layers of your skin and air into the outer layer of your skin. Glycerol is widely used with occlusives, another form of the moisturising agent, in skincare products, to capture the moisture that it draws into the skin.

2. Which Foods Contain Glycerol?

Pre-cooked pasta, rolled oats, breakfast cereals, rice or tapioca, breading or batters, pre-cooked rice products, and baked goods are all possible sources of glycerin. Processed fruits and vegetables(dried or canned vegetables or fruits, pre-cooked vegetables) also consist of glycerol.

3. Can We Make Glycerol at Home? Explain.

YES, we can make glycerol at home. Add one cup of coconut oil and olive oil to a saucepan. Keep it low and gradually add 1 teaspoon of lye and 1 cup of water. For 15 minutes, heat the mixture and keep stirring until the mixture is thick. Add 1/2 cup salt as tracing reflects in the pan and allow the mixture to cool.

4. Give a method to prepare glycerol.

You can prepare glycerol by the saponification of triglyceride under a smooth temperature with a reagent of sodium hydroxide underwater.