Does glycerin go bad?

In this article, we will answer the question “Does glycerin go bad?”, what is vegetable glycerin, what are the uses, benefits, and side effects of vegetable glycerin, can you use expired glycerin, and how to store glycerin.

Does glycerin go bad?

Yes, glycerin goes bad but not that easy. Pure, vegetable glycerin won’t go bad under normal storage conditions. Prolonged or frequent exposure to heat, light, and moisture, affects the medicinal properties of glycerin. 

Expired glycerin should not be used for skin care or medical purposes as it is highly likely to be bad even when it does not look like it. More on this in the article below.

What is vegetable glycerin? 

Glycerin is a sweet and colorless sugar alcohol that comes from plants, animals, or petroleum. Vegetable glycerin is obtained by heating vegetable fats with a strong base like lye or under pressure.

What are the uses of vegetable glycerin? 

Vegetable glycerin has widespread applications in the food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industry. In the pharmaceutical industry, glycerin is used in heart and cough medication, suppositories, and anesthetics.

Moreover, glycerin prevents the setting of the toothpaste and the formation of the ice crystals in frozen foods like ice cream and yogurt. Moreover, it keeps the water and oil from separating and lends a sweet and moistening effect to the product. 

What are the potential health benefits of glycerin?

May moisturize skin 

Glycerin does a great job of moisturizing skin. That is why glycerin is a common ingredient in moisturizing creams and lotions. Studies have shown that glycerin is a better moisturizer than silicone oil or hyaluronic acid. Adding glycerin to a warm water bath prevents the skin from drying out and feeling itchy/irritated. 

May promote skin health 

Apart from moisturizing, glycerin has excellent wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties, both of which are great for good skin.

Applying glycerin or products containing glycerin to your face shields it against irritants and microbial attacks. Glycerin can be healing for people with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

May relieve constipation 

Glycerin adds water into your poop making it soft, improves bowel movements that help relieve constipation. The great laxative effect of glycerin is what makes it an excellent suppository.

May improve hydration and athletic performance 

Hydrated athletes perform better. Sweating makes you lose a lot of water during exercise which ultimately affects your performance. Taking a glycerin drink before physical activity is more efficient at retaining water in your body during exercise. 

Because you cannot practically chug down jugs of water before exercising to compensate for the water loss in advance. 

What are the potential side effects of glycerin? 

You may not know but you may be allergic to vegetable glycerin. Therefore, do a patch test before using glycerin on your face or other sensitive areas. Similarly, some people cannot digest glycerin when consumed in large quantities. As a result of which, they experience headaches, gas, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and excessive thirst. 

How to store vegetable glycerin? 

Moisture, light, and heat are the worst enemy of glycerin. Although glycerin is shelf-stable, it will go bad if not kept properly. Ideally, glycerin should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place away from direct or indirect sources of heat from the stovetop or sunlight. 

Use a colored or tinted glass or plastic container to store glycerin. This will protect the glycerin against the havoc of sunlight. Make sure the container is air-tight. This will block the air and the entry of microbes and any other contaminant. 

If the glycerin starts to feel a bit dry, let it sit on the counter unopened, or stir in a few drops of water. Glycerin is hygroscopic so leaving it unopened will allow it to absorb moisture from its surroundings. 

Glycerin, in a concentration greater than 50, is best stored at room temperature, ideally between 65 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Can you use expired glycerin? 

No, you cannot use expired glycerin.  If the glycerin is discolored, becomes too watery, or fails to rehydrate, it is done for.

It may not be visible but glycerin undergoes chemical changes over time. These changes accelerate once the glycerin is past its expiry. 

What usually happens is that glycerin absorbs too much moisture which increases its water activity. An increase in the water activity of glycerin results in a greater incidence of microbial attack and growth.

Expired glycerin can irritate your skin and cause allergies, infections, or breakouts. Never use expired glycerin as a preservative.


In this article, we answered the question “Does glycerin go bad?”, what is vegetable glycerin, what are the uses, benefits, and side effects of vegetable glycerin, can you use expired glycerin, and how to store glycerin.


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