Foods & Ingredients

Is Glycerin Vegan? An inside look into Glycerin and Veganism

You may have heard of glycerin more often than you think. Most of you have probably heard of it as being one of the major components in soap making.

However, that is not its only use. Glycerin is used in so many industrial areas, ranging from cosmetics, body lotions, food processing, soap making and many others. Since food processing is indeed on this list, you may naturally want to know if glycerin is a vegan product or if it something derived from animal products. Fear not, today this question will be answered.

Known as Glycol, Glycerin or Glycerol, this is a thick odorless liquid which dissolves completely when added to water.

Even more, it is non-toxic. Glycerin is important in food processing since it is able to absorb water, making it the perfect ingredient to add to baked goods in order to keep them fresh and moist for longer periods of time.

It is also an important ingredient in most candies out there on the market.

There are two ways to get glycerin, one way involves getting it from the fat of animals and the other revolves around extracting it from vegetable oil.

Vegetable glycerin is obtained by pressing vegetable oil at a specific temperature and adding in some water.

This pressurized effect leads to the fatty acids in the oil getting absorbed by the water, leading to what we know as vegetable glycerin. Consistency wise, due to the fact that it is extracted from vegetable glycerin looks more like thick oil or a syrup.

This type of glycerin is suitable for vegans and can be consumed without thinking twice.

When it comes to glycerin that is extracted from animal fats, the process is more difficult. Beef or mutton fat, named tallow, is mixed with water and heated to a specific temperature is to create a thick paste.

The paste is then cooled, and if the excess water needs to be removed, it is boiled again. The resulting substance is the glycerin that comes from animal fat. This type is not suitable for vegans

In hindsight, when it comes to vegan food products, knowing which kind of glycerin was used can be difficult. Look for a “vegetable glycerin” label. If the food ingredient list only says glycerin, then you can either contact the manufacturer to find out which glycerin it is or look it up online and see if the answer is there.

However, you should know that vegetable glycerin is primarily used for food products whereas animal glycerin is used in lotions, soaps, and other things.

Nevertheless, there is no clear rule set in place which means that some lotion manufacturers may use vegetable glycerin and other animal glycerin. You can never be too sure or too safe, meaning that carefully looking at the label and the ingredients can save you more problems later on.

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