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  #1  
Old 05-08-2007, 09:16 AM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Is Glycerin really bad for you? I doubt it's Vegan friendly...

In my ever increasing pursuit to be green and live organically [ don't read vegan(ly) ] my wife and I have been doing some research on Glycerin. Originally derrived from animal fat, now it can be synthesized from palm oils et al, I was wondering: If glycerin is found in just about all lotions, soaps, cosmetics, some foods, is it in fact bad for you. To define bad: Harmful in large quantities, not good for optimum health, pore clogging.... But won't kill you.

Anyone have the dope on glycerin?
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  #2  
Old 05-08-2007, 09:59 AM
DanBlather DanBlather is offline
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Glycerin contains carbon and is thus organic. I think it's clear and colorless however, not green. Maybe you can add some dye to it.
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  #3  
Old 05-08-2007, 10:00 AM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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FWIW, I have never, ever heard anybody say that glycerin was "bad" for you.

In cosmetics, it's not a chemical that your body's skin is going to absorb and process the way it would process, say, hydrocortisone cream; the fanatic all-natural soapmakers are fine with it, and put it in their soaps; it even occurs naturally in old-fashioned handmade lye soap.

Chemically it's an alcohol, so it is not harmful in food. It is digested like any other carbohydrate. And actually, the process of digestion itself breaks down fats into fatty acids and glycerol, said smaller molecules being then utilized by the cells. (The Wiki article has more of the abstruse metabolism details of this.) I therefore infer that the human system does not find the presence of glycerol to be "bad".

If you're visualizing it in its natural state as something like paraffin or the various non-toxic waxes that are found in cosmetics and food, and thus you are assuming that it must be indigestible and/or non-utilizable and thus vaguely "bad", this is not correct. It's a clear, sweet, syrupy substance.

Unless you have vegan issues, don't worry about it.
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Old 05-08-2007, 10:06 AM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
FWIW, I have never, ever heard anybody say that glycerin was "bad" for you.

In cosmetics, it's not a chemical that your body's skin is going to absorb and process the way it would process, say, hydrocortisone cream; the fanatic all-natural soapmakers are fine with it, and put it in their soaps; it even occurs naturally in old-fashioned handmade lye soap.

Chemically it's an alcohol, so it is not harmful in food. It is digested like any other carbohydrate. And actually, the process of digestion itself breaks down fats into fatty acids and glycerol, said smaller molecules being then utilized by the cells. (The Wiki article has more of the abstruse metabolism details of this.) I therefore infer that the human system does not find the presence of glycerol to be "bad".

If you're visualizing it in its natural state as something like paraffin or the various non-toxic waxes that are found in cosmetics and food, and thus you are assuming that it must be indigestible and/or non-utilizable and thus vaguely "bad", this is not correct. It's a clear, sweet, syrupy substance.

Unless you have vegan issues, don't worry about it.
There's the answer I was looking for. Thanx!!
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  #5  
Old 05-08-2007, 10:07 AM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanBlather
Glycerin contains carbon and is thus organic.
Um...prussic acid (a.k.a. cyanide) also contains carbon and is thus organic.

And, er, so does strychnine.
And LSD.
And thalidomide.

As a matter of fact, just about every food and medicine you can name on Planet Earth, except for mineral supplements, has carbon in it.

So saying that a chemical substance "has carbon" in it and is thus "organic" is meaningless.

Just sayin'.

****************

ETA:

Quote:
Thanx!!
You're welcome.

Last edited by Duck Duck Goose; 05-08-2007 at 10:09 AM..
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  #6  
Old 05-08-2007, 10:21 AM
Squink Squink is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
I therefore infer that the human system does not find the presence of glycerol to be "bad".
I suspect that your intestinal flora would have themselves quite a party if you were to chug a pint of the stuff. It is possible to OD on glycerol, find out how for $34.95, but I don't think that's much concern in the context of this thread.
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  #7  
Old 05-08-2007, 11:06 AM
Kyrie Eleison Kyrie Eleison is offline
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While glycerin is safe, the use of diethylene glycol as a glycerin counterfeit remains a problem in some parts of the world. NYT article on the subject (free registration required).
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  #8  
Old 05-08-2007, 01:07 PM
DanBlather DanBlather is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
Um...prussic acid (a.k.a. cyanide) also contains carbon and is thus organic.

And, er, so does strychnine.
And LSD.
And thalidomide.

As a matter of fact, just about every food and medicine you can name on Planet Earth, except for mineral supplements, has carbon in it.

So saying that a chemical substance "has carbon" in it and is thus "organic" is meaningless.
That giant whooshing noise you hear has CO2 in it and is organic as well.

The point is that "organic" as used in the hippy/new age/green community has virtually no meaning. That is especially true when you apply it to something like glycerin which is just a freekin chemical compound. It's as though there were some homeopathic-like "magic" that went along with it to remember if it came from a "natural" (another word I hate) source.
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  #9  
Old 05-08-2007, 05:26 PM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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Whooshes can be hard to distinguish from cluelessness in the context and ambience of General Questions.
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  #10  
Old 05-08-2007, 05:38 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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I undertand that the nitro version is best avoided.
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  #11  
Old 03-14-2013, 06:34 PM
biochem_nerdy_chic biochem_nerdy_chic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanBlather View Post
That giant whooshing noise you hear has CO2 in it and is organic as well.

The point is that "organic" as used in the hippy/new age/green community has virtually no meaning. That is especially true when you apply it to something like glycerin which is just a freekin chemical compound. It's as though there were some homeopathic-like "magic" that went along with it to remember if it came from a "natural" (another word I hate) source.
CO2 is not an organic compound. Just because something contains carbon and heteroatoms does not mean it's organic. You can look it up.
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  #12  
Old 03-14-2013, 06:54 PM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanBlather View Post
That giant whooshing noise you hear has CO2 in it and is organic as well.

The point is that "organic" as used in the hippy/new age/green community has virtually no meaning. That is especially true when you apply it to something like glycerin which is just a freekin chemical compound. It's as though there were some homeopathic-like "magic" that went along with it to remember if it came from a "natural" (another word I hate) source.
To be chemically defined as organic a molecule needs to have Carbon bonded to hydrogen.


CO2 is not organic, but CH4 is.
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  #13  
Old 03-14-2013, 06:56 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
To be chemically defined as organic a molecule needs to have Carbon bonded to hydrogen.


CO2 is not organic, but CH4 is.
methane... do zombies fart?
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  #14  
Old 03-14-2013, 07:00 PM
the_diego the_diego is offline
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This should take up more than 50% of your fear of glycerin: is inhaling lots of vaporized glycerin safe?
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  #15  
Old 03-14-2013, 07:06 PM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
To be chemically defined as organic a molecule needs to have Carbon bonded to hydrogen.


CO2 is not organic, but CH4 is.
Ugh. Not enough BANNED users to clue me in!
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  #16  
Old 03-14-2013, 07:13 PM
the_diego the_diego is offline
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Let's define organic to be a product of biological activity. That's the more telling part. Carbon content is not an absolute requirement. Aspirated oxygen and carbon dioxide gas are both organic, so is hydrogen sulphide. Carbon dioxide from volcanoes and hydrothermal vents is inorganic in origin. Ethyl alcohol is organic. Isopropyl alcohol, errrmmm... I guess it's organic.
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  #17  
Old 03-14-2013, 08:34 PM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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I've always thought of Glycerin as a sweetener. A sugar alcohol that is not metabolized by the body, so the calories aren't absorbed during digestion. Too much and you'll get diarrhea; just like any other sugar alcohol. Am I wrong here?
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  #18  
Old 03-15-2013, 02:02 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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Of course it is metabolized, and is calorific. It is a component of triglycerides, i.e., regular fats. When you digest fat you are digesting glycerin (glycerol) too. Incidentally, vegetable fats are also mostly triglycerides, so vegan glycerin is certainly a possibility (though whether the stuff that is actually available is for vegetable or animal sources, or both, I don't know).

By the same token, of course it is harmless (in sensible quantities) because it is a normal human metabolite. If your body ever burns fat (and it does, no matter what your diet is, and no matter how skinny you are), it has glycerol in it.

Other sugar alcohols are digested and calorific too. Have you never noticed that sugarless gum, sweetened with sorbitol, or whatever, carries a disclaimer such as "Not non-caloric" on the package? It still makes you fat. It just doesn't rot your teeth as much as sucrose does.

Last edited by njtt; 03-15-2013 at 02:05 AM..
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  #19  
Old 03-15-2013, 02:08 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_diego View Post
Let's define organic to be a product of biological activity. That's the more telling part. Carbon content is not an absolute requirement. Aspirated oxygen and carbon dioxide gas are both organic, so is hydrogen sulphide. Carbon dioxide from volcanoes and hydrothermal vents is inorganic in origin. Ethyl alcohol is organic. Isopropyl alcohol, errrmmm... I guess it's organic.
Well you can make up your own definitions if you like, if you don't care whether people understand you. However, that is not what organic means to chemists.
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  #20  
Old 03-15-2013, 02:22 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
To be chemically defined as organic a molecule needs to have Carbon bonded to hydrogen.


CO2 is not organic, but CH4 is.
What about CCl4? Isn't that normally considered organic. I thought the usual definition was just "carbon compounds except for CO2 and the carbonate ion (and perhaps the cyanide ion too)". (Ruling those out is sort of arbitrary, but makes sense in terms of what carbonate chemistry, and cyanide chemistry, is like. They behave like normal inorganic anions.)

Another suggestion is that to be organic a compound must contain C-C bonds. This is neat, and makes good chemical sense except that it rules out methane (and related compounds like methanol and formic acid), which most people intuitively feel ought to be organic.

The truth is, "organic" is not a very precise term, even within chemistry, and it does not need to be.
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  #21  
Old 03-15-2013, 02:44 AM
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Slight tangent...

Re: the "living green" aspect, palm oil can be a contributor in tropical deforestation and is sometimes avoided by the greenies.

And veganism may or may not be "green"er depending on the specifics.
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  #22  
Old 03-15-2013, 04:24 AM
the_diego the_diego is offline
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Quote:
To be chemically defined as organic a molecule needs to have Carbon bonded to hydrogen.
CaCo3[OH]

Chemists think this is organic? Smartest forum in the internet....
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  #23  
Old 03-15-2013, 05:03 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Originally Posted by the_diego View Post
CaCo3[OH]

Chemists think this is organic? Smartest forum in the internet....
What is that supposed to be? Calcium tricobaltate?

Assuming you mean calcium carbonate, what is your point? Calcium carbonate is an inorganic ionic compound, and it doesn't have C-H bonds, which was the point you were replying to. Not sure why you are including the hydroxyl ion in the formula there, but it certainly isn't bonded to the carbon atom!

There's no simple definition of an organic compound, but chemists know one when they see one. You could say "it must have C-H bonds", but this excludes things like CCl4 and benzenehexol. You could say it must have C-C bonds, but that excludes methane, urea etc.
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Old 03-15-2013, 05:08 AM
the_diego the_diego is offline
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Ok, so a hydrate is not an ionic bond. Now let's look at your C-H bond. Aren't people confusing "organic compounds" with "hydrocarbon compounds?" You see high-grade coal is almost pure carbon and it certainly was of biological origin. Not organic?
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:13 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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Originally Posted by the_diego View Post
Ok, so a hydrate is not an ionic bond. Now let's look at your C-H bond. Aren't people confusing "organic compounds" with "hydrocarbon compounds?" You see high-grade coal is almost pure carbon and it certainly was of biological origin. Not organic?
No. It is not even a compound. In chemistry, "organic" is a word used to describe compounds.

Although many organic compounds are derived from living things, they do not have to be, and that really is not relevant to the what the word means to chemists.
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  #26  
Old 03-15-2013, 11:39 AM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_diego View Post
Ok, so a hydrate is not an ionic bond. Now let's look at your C-H bond. Aren't people confusing "organic compounds" with "hydrocarbon compounds?" You see high-grade coal is almost pure carbon and it certainly was of biological origin. Not organic?
Organic= grown without pesticides etc (as defined by agriculturalists)

Organic= comprised of a hydrocarbon chain (chemists, biologists and biochemists)

Organic= synthesized by a living creature (?, but I'm sure someone uses it that way)


Something can be chemically defined as organic without having been synthesized by a living creature. My understanding is the definition came first from analyzing the major compounds prevalent in living creatures (proteins, fats, carbs, nucleic acids) and determining what those compounds have in common, forming the basis of a chemical definition.
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Old 03-15-2013, 11:43 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is online now
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Anybody heard from Phlosphr lately? He's been away a while....
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  #28  
Old 03-15-2013, 12:08 PM
MikeS MikeS is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
Organic= grown without pesticides etc (as defined by agriculturalists)

Organic= comprised of a hydrocarbon chain (chemists, biologists and biochemists)

Organic= synthesized by a living creature (?, but I'm sure someone uses it that way)


Something can be chemically defined as organic without having been synthesized by a living creature. My understanding is the definition came first from analyzing the major compounds prevalent in living creatures (proteins, fats, carbs, nucleic acids) and determining what those compounds have in common, forming the basis of a chemical definition.
The OED has a couple of apposite citations. From 1831:
Quote:
By the mutual combination of these principles are formed the organic elements, which exist only in living beings, and are the exclusive product of organization... These organic elements are, gelatine, albumen, fibrin, fat, mucus, and certain other substances less generally distributed.
And from 1869, almost 40 years later:
Quote:
The term organic has long ceased to imply a substance that is formed only by organized living tissues, and now signifies only matter with a certain degree of complexity of composition.
Finally, from 1894:
Quote:
We define, therefore, that part of our science which is commonly called organic chemistry as the Chemistry of the Hydrocarbons and their derivatives.
The original meaning of the word in the sense we're talking about, by the way, literally meant "related to the organs."

Last edited by MikeS; 03-15-2013 at 12:10 PM.. Reason: got the year wrong
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