Working with Glycerin and Allergies

Photo credit TJ Cosgrove @ Flickr |

[Image courtesy of TJ Cosgrove @ Flickr.]

Glycerin is one of the ingredients I use when making bubble bath. Being an allergy-conscious maker of bath products, I know that glycerin can come from both animal and vegetable sources. Even when it is “vegetable glycerin”, it can be made from coconut, palm, soy, or any number of vegetable oils.  I won’t use palm-derived or coconut-derived glycerin; if you are allergic to coconut or palm, products derived from them can also cause an allergic reaction.  All the kosher glycerin I can find on the Internet is soy-derived.

Absent any better alternatives, I chose to use soy-derived glycerin, because at least I know what goes into it, and most people with soy allergies are all right with soy glycerin.  I am allergic to soy myself, but it is a mild enough allergy that I don’t seem to have any problems with soy glycerin (at the very low concentrations resulting from me using my bubble bath, anyway).  While I avoid soybean oil and soy protein isolates (no soy milk for me) and I can no longer snack on edamame (sadness!), I am okay when consuming small amounts of miso or soy sauce.  (The way my allergist explained it, fermentation changes the structure of some proteins.  I guess the soy proteins I’m allergic to get altered in the process of making miso and soy sauce.)

However, there are people whose sensitivity to soy is so high that consuming soy-derived glycerin can cause severe allergic reactions.  For folks like that, life is hard enough.  I want them to be able to use my products and take away one source of stress and frustration for them, so I am trying to look for a replacement for soy-derived glycerin.  With the exception of soy glycerin, however, it is surprisingly difficult to find glycerin where you can be certain what oil it comes from.

Someone on a soap forum suggested corn glycerin.  I already use corn starch, and the citric acid I use in my bath bombs comes from corn (confirmed with my supplier), so I won’t be introducing any new allergens if I used corn-derived glycerin, but… trying to find corn glycerin is also very hard.  It doesn’t solve the problem when it comes to people who are sensitive to corn products, either!

So… I am now investigating making glycerin.  With a bit of work, I should be able to make glycerin that is olive-derived and safe for folks who have coconut, palm, soy, or corn allergies.

(I may need to also make glycerin from corn oil, the above notwithstanding.  Some of my products don’t use olive oil.  Those same products either contain corn starch or citric acid, both corn-based.  Using an olive-derived glycerin in those products would introduce a new allergen, but using a corn-derived glycerin would not.)

I have to test this, but I am hoping it works out well.  As a bonus, I’ll be able to offer 100% olive-oil laundry soap as well.  This seems like a win-win!

[Follow-up post: Update on Glycerin]

1 Comment

  1. […] is an update to Working with Glycerin and Allergies.  After doing more research, I’ve learned a few […]


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