Glycol vs. Glycerol

Difference Between Glycol And Glycerol


A glycol, also called a dihydric alcohol or diol, is a type of alcohol that has two hydroxyl groups (OH), each bonded to different carbon atoms of an aliphatic carbon chain. The most common glycol is ethylene glycol, (CH2 OH)2, used as an automotive antifreeze and in the production of polyester fibers, pharmaceuticals, and explosives.

Low-molecular-weight glycols are colorless, water-soluble liquids. As the molecular weight increases, the solubility in water decreases and the melting point, boiling point, and viscosity increase. Glycols undergo all of the reactions of alcohols. Simple glycols are usually synthesized from the corresponding unsaturated hydrocarbon.


Glycerol, or glycerin, a nontoxic liquid with a slightly sweet taste, is a commercially important alcohol. Its ability to absorb water makes it a valuable moisturizing agent for tobacco and foods, which it also sweetens, and a softening agent for skin conditioners. It is also used in the production of pharmaceuticals, plasticizers, alkyd resins, and the explosive nitroglycerin. Glycerin is derived from fats and vegetable oils as a by-product in soap manufacture and from propylene through chlorination and hydrolysis. It is soluble in water and other polar solvents but insoluble in nonpolar organic solvents. Glycerin is a trihydric alcohol, or triol. That is, it contains three hydroxyl groups (OH), each bonded to a different carbon atom of an aliphatic carbon chain.



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