What is Glycerin?
Glycerin (Glycerol) is a clear, odorless, viscous liquid with a naturally sweet taste. It is derived from both natural and petrochemical feedstocks. Glycerin occurs in combined form (triglycerides) in animal fats and vegetable oils and is obtained from these fats and oils during transesterification, such as in biodiesel production.
Glycerin currently has over 1500 known uses in many different industries ranging from foods, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics (USP grade glycerin) to paints, coatings and other industrial types of applications (technical grade glycerin).
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There are many different types of glycerin grades ranging from crude glycerin to refined glycerin (pharmaceutical grade).
Other names for glycerin:
What are the differences between Crude Glycerin, Technical Grade Glycerin, and 99.7 - USP Grade Glycerin?
Crude Glycerin - Crude glycerin contains a significant amount of methanol, water, soaps, and salts and typically has a glycerol content of anywhere between 40 to 88%. Crude glycerol is a natural by-product produced during the biodiesel production process, specifically taking place during transesterification.
Technical Grade Glycerin - Technical grade glycerin is a refined, high-purity product that is water white with most of its contaminants completely removed. Technical grade glycerin contains no methanol, soaps, salts, and other foreign matter.
USP Grade Glycerin - USP Grade Glycerin is a pharmaceutical grade glycerin suitable for food, personal care, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and other specialty applications. All of these products have met the US Pharmacopeia specifications (USP 30).
PLEASE NOTE: Be leery of any company claiming to produce USP Grade glycerin as these companies MUST be registered and controlled by the FDA. Many companies make false claims of producing USP grade glycerin when in fact, they cannot and should not make such claims without being governed by the Federal Government.
What classifies glycerin as USP Grade?
To be called USP Grade Glycerin companies are closely regulated with regards to their manufacturing facility, testing methods, inspections, distribution, and warehousing. True USP Grade Glycerin follows strict rules and guidelines set forth by the FDA. The FDA requires that all domestic companies distributing USP Grade Glycerin must be registered and listed unless they qualify for exemption.
The same applies for USP Glycerin originating from a foreign manufacturing facility going to an importer in the states. In this instance, FDA compliance by both parties is still a requirement.
FDA regulations also require systematic and complete record keeping by all USP glycerin manufacturers. They must have supporting documentation at all times for every shipment providing lot numbers and permits tracing back to the plant it was produced in.
USP Grade Glycerin assures buyers of the product's integrity which cannot be achieved through physical and chemical testing alone. On the flip side, Technical Grade Glycerin is not subject to such governmental regulatory control.
Although produced by similar processes, Technical Grade Glycerin does not need to comply with USP and FCC requirements or FDA regulations. This grade of glycerin only needs to conform to the specifications mutually agreed upon by the buyer and seller.