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Propylene glycol (CAS Number: 57-55-6) is an organic compound with the chemical formula C3H8O2. It is a colorless vicious liquid with almost no odor and sweet taste. This compound is categorized as a diol alcohol, which is miscible with various solvents such as water, chloroform and acetone. It is a colorless hygroscopic liquid that has an asymmetrical carbon atom, such that it exists in two enantiomers. Racemic mixture is the commercial product. It has very low toxicity and volatility.



Propylene glycol is synthesized from propylene oxide. There are two processes adopted for the manufacture. The first is the catalytic method that proceeds at 150°C with a small amount of alkali or sulfuric acid or ion exchange resin and second one is non catalytic method which proceeds at 200 °C. The end products consist of 20% propylene glycol, 1.5% dipropylene glycol and traces of other polypropylene glycols. On purification 99.5% pure propylene glycol is obtained. Propylene glycol can also be obtained from glycerol, which is a biodiesel byproduct.



- A significant amount of propylene glycol manufactured is used as a chemical feedstock to produce unsaturated polyester resins.

- Propylene glycol is treated with a mix of unsaturated maleic anhydride and isophthalic acid to produce a copolymer.

- On further cross linking, thermoset plastics are obtained from partially unsaturated polymers.

- Polyurethanes are produced from oligomers and polymers that are produced by treating propylene oxide with propylene glycol.

- Paint industries buy propylene glycol to manufacture waterbased acrylic architectural paints. Industries such as food, pharmaceuticals and tobacco buy propylene glycol, which is used as an additive, solvent and humectant in their products.

- It is also used in electronic cigarettes and vegetable glycerin.

- Propylene glycol suppliers supply the chemical to model manufacturers who use it in their products such as model railway and model boat to simulate smoke or steam with a small heating element.



Propylene glycol has low oral toxicity as large quantities are needed to cause noticeable health effects. It is a non-irritant to the skin and in is minimally irritant to the eyes, even in its undiluted form, which could cause minor transient conjunctivitis during the exposure period. No significant hazard is posed by the inhalation of propylene glycol. This compound is not carcinogenic, sensitizing or genotoxic in nature. Propylene glycol suppliers and other end user industries who buy propylene glycol must be aware of the toxic effects of the chemical.


Handling and Storage

Propylene glycol must be stored away from oxidizing agents and open flame in a dry environment. Containers used for storing the chemical must always be tightly sealed irrespective of whether it its empty, partially filled or full. Propylene glycol suppliers, manufacturers, laboratory and plant personnel must be cautious during the handling and storing of this compound. Drilling operations must not be carried out near the container. Safety shower and eye bath facilities should be provided in proximity to the work place. 


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