What Is Propylene Glycol

Propylene GlycolTalk about Propylene Glycol with anyone and you will probably get the answer that it is a toxin. We asked a lot of people about what PG and figured that there is a lot of misinformation circling around. So we decided to do some research and find out why people are against it.

Propylene Glycol

  • Propylene Glycol is a colorless and clear liquid at room temperature. It is a chemical that comes into being from the reaction of water with propylene oxide. While the component is usually in liquid form in room temperature, it can exist in vapor form too. However, in order to turn PG into vapor, heat is required.
  • A lot of people consider Propylene Glycol a toxin because it is used in a variety of applications existing edible and non edible industries. But since it has many different applications, the real question is how much application of PG is dangerous to human health?

Applications of Propylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol is something you will find in many different day to day products. You will find PG in hydraulic and brake fluid and as well as in many different food items. PG is used in a variety of different day to day items but what a lot of people don’t realize is that it comes in various grades. For example, there is a grade of PG that is considered Industrial grade PG. This grade of PG is used in applications like:

  • Engine coolants
  • Airplane de-icers
  • Anti freeze
  • Polyurethane cushions
  • Enamels
  • Varnishes
  • Paints

When someone learns that an active ingredient in these products is also used in daily food items like snacks and ready-made meals; they obviously get a bit alarmed. But what they are missing on is the fact that Propylene Glycol also comes in pharmaceutical grade which is safe for human consumption.

Applications of Pharmaceutical Grade Propylene Glycol

  • The controversy behind Propylene Glycol is not because it is being used in non-edible applications; it is in fact due to lack of research and awareness. The pharmaceutical grade PG has been used in many edible-applications for years without raising any eyebrows. This is because the PG used in food is so much less in quantity that it does not pose any threat. For example, the concentration of PG in a snack food today is extremely low and which is why most health authorities deemed responsible for studying the component have concluded that it is safe for consumption. The Food and Drug Administration of United States have included PG on their GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) list. As a result, you will see PG in a variety of edible products such as:
  • Snack foods
  • Prescription drugs
  • Supplements
  • Oral cleaning products
  • Chewing Gum
  • Ready-made meals
  • Canned meals

Use of Pharmaceutical Grade Propylene Glycol in Electronic Cigarettes

  • PG is actively used in Electronic cigarettes today. The liquid nicotine cartridges that come with an electronic cigarette contain Pharmaceutical Grade PG, Nicotine and flavorings. PG is added to e-cigs as a vaporizable base that is there to help dilute liquefied nicotine. Without PG, there would have been no vapor production from an electronic cigarette.
  • PG has natural water retaining properties. This is why it is the number one compound choice for adding in atomized medications such as nebulizers, asthma inhalers and of course, electronic cigarettes. In Ecigs, Propylene glycol makes atomization possible at lower temperatures than required for a regular cigarette to combust and delivers nicotine.

So Is Pharmaceutical Propylene Glycol Safe?

Yes! We already told you that PG is safe when it is used in very little quantity. The pharmaceutical grade PG is always used in extremely low quantities deemed safe by health organizations all over the world. And contrary to popular belief, it does not cause cancer.


Is Propylene Glycol dangerous if consumed in large quantities?

  • Propylene glycol is not available to the local consumer. It is only given and used by professional manufacturers and cannot be purchased separately. The amount of PG used in food items or other items that allows the consumption of PG is so low that it is nearly impossible to overdose.

Can you list down the specific food items Propylene Glycol is used in?

Propylene Glycol is very commonly used in day to day food items, cosmetics and prescription drugs. It is so commonly used that it would be impossible for us to list down the entire list. So we have come up with list of items it is most commonly found in:

  • Care products
  • Cosmetics
  • Toiletries
  • Snacks
  • Readymade meals
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Animal feed
  • Supplements

Is prolonged use of Propylene Glycol harmful?

  • You may not realize it but you have been consuming PG for as long as you remember. Propylene Glycol has been used in day to day food and other items since more than 50 years. The amount of PG in edible items is so less that there are absolutely no harmful effects even if you consume it for long periods.

Does Propylene Glycol have any immediate effects on the body?

  • No. PG is quickly metabolizes in the body and is eliminated. It is quickly turned into lactic acid just like sugar and is discarded through urine.

How can I be sure industry grade PG is not being used in edible products?

  • The industry grade and pharmaceutical grade PG are both very pure in nature. However, under strict guidelines from the FDA, manufacturers are required to carefully add PG to edible items. A strict set of rules made by the FDA clearly states different criteria for production and transportation of PG if it is to be used in day to day products.

Can I get allergic reactions from Propylene Glycol?

  • Propylene Glycol has been deemed safe to be used in day to day products such as snack foods, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. However, in extreme cases an individual may show signs of allergic reactions which are not limited to a single symptom. PG has been used in products for over 50 years and there have been no adverse effects recorded since then.

Can Propylene Glycol cause cancer?

  • No. Propylene Glycol does not cause cancer. This has been confirmed by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Several studies conducted by the IARC, EPA and FDA has also proven that PG is not a carcinogen.