Where does glycerine come from?

Reader Mark writes:

i am a vegetarian, i bought a nutri grain bars, after i had one i looked at the ingredients and found that is contains glycerin. i have heard that glycerin comes from the fat of pigs. is that true, or not

Hey Mark! Good question. It’s gelatin that comes from pigs and bovines (skins mostly). Glycerine is completely vegetarian. It comes from a couple of sources. It is the main by-product of biofuel (ethanol) production, which means that assuming ethanol continues to be mandated in auto fuel blends we’ll be seeing a lot more of it. But biofuel glycerine isn’t the type we typically eat, since in its raw state it contains a fair amount of water plus a few residual whatsits.

Refined and purified, biofuel glycerine is used in cosmetics and for “personal lubricants”. However given how much glycerine the biofuels industry is making, there’s no way even the global sexual lubricant industry will be able to use it all. Thus many governments around world are currently offering cash prizes to people who can think of practical uses for the stuff.

Food-grade (also known as “vegetable”) glycerine is made via a very similar process, but done on a smaller scale using palm and/or coconut oils. You can typically find it at candy-making supply houses or via online confectioner’s sites.

This entry was posted in Pastry. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Where does glycerine come from?

  1. Susan says:

    Well…that makes me want to run out buy a jar for my holiday candy making. Not! Too funny, Joe!

  2. Bronwyn says:

    We always had a bottle of it in the bathroom cabinet when I was a child. I remember what it tastes like, but damned if I can remember why I got dosed with it.

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Bronwyn!

      Some people used to use it to help them rehydrate after a stomach bug. Perhaps that was the purpose?

      - Joe

      • Bronwyn says:

        Don’t think so. I’m vaguely associating it with sore throats. But that might be because I have one.

        • joepastry says:

          Sore throats might be right…it’s used as a lubricant, obviously. That would probably alleviate some discomfort for kids.

          Interesting.

          - Joe

      • Kitty says:

        I HATE Coca Cola because I was …administered pure cola syrup mixed with a scant bit of water when I had any sort of stomach issues as a kid. SO . . . I associate Cola with barfing. Yay….

        • joepastry says:

          They’d love to hear that down in Atlanta at Coke HQ. Talk about a negative brand association…that’s pretty much textbook.

          Better days!

          - Joe

          • Kitty says:

            The Crap started out as medicine, so I guess my grandparents just kept up with it. (Nevermind I was an 80s child)
            They can blame the start :)
            Of course, I don’t think it would have been such a bad association if it hadn’t been mostly pure syrup with a bit of water and obviously no bubbles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>