Glycerine is used as a polymer building block in the production of alkyd resins and polyurethanes for use in paints, inks and coatings. It is also a raw material for the manufacture of many different types of chemical intermediate, including solvents, liquid detergents, plasticizers and surfactants.
In foods and beverages, it functions variously as a solvent, preservative and sweetener. Due to its benign nature it can be safely ingested, and is used to sweeten and thicken cough syrups, elixirs and expectorants.
Glycerol is used in medical and pharmaceutical preparations as a means of improving smoothness, providing lubrication, and as a humectant. It is found in allergen immunotherapies, cough syrups, elixirs and expectorants, toothpaste, mouthwashes, skin care products, shaving cream, hair care products, glycerin soaps and water-based personal lubricants. Nitroglycerin prepared from Glycerine is the most commonplace treatment for chronic angina, the chest pain of heart disease. It is an effective treatment for psoriasis, burns, bites, cuts, rashes, bedsores, and calluses. It can be used orally to eliminate halitosis, as it is a contact bacterial desiccant. The same property makes it very helpful with periodontal disease. It is also used as an alcohol-free alternative to ethanol as a solvent in preparing herbal extractions.
It is used to produce glyceryl tinitrate (GTN), which is used in various explosives such as dynamite, gelignite, and propellants like cordite.
It is used to reduce the coefficient of friction of polymer-coated surfaces by several orders of magnitude.