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Triacetin - for the food and coatings industry
What is triacetin and how does it work?
Triacetin or: glycerine triacetate and 1,2,3-propanetriyl triacetate) is an ester compound of glycerin and acetic acid. It is a colorless liquid that smells oily to rancid. It´s used as an emollient, as a humectant or as a flavor carrier in various industries. Triacetin has a viscosity (7.83 cSt at 40 oC) .
Triacetin is an oily liquid. It is colorless, viscous, and almost odorless (little oily or rancid odor) and owns a high boiling point and a low melting point.
It can be mixed with ethanol/alcohol, diethyl ether and chloroform but it is not mixable with aliphatic hydrocarbons or natural/mineral oils.
The molecular formula of triacetin is: C9H14O6.
The production process of triacetin contains the following steps:
- Glycerol reacts with acetic acid in a classic esterification reaction.
- The generated product can then be purified, using e.g., subsequent vacuum distillation
Alternatively, Triacetin can be synthesized from acetic anhydride and glycerol in the presence of phosphoric acid or zinc chloride. In addition, triacetin is formed by acetylation of glycerol.
Mostly, Triacetin is used in the food and cosmetics industry. Here it can be found in chewing gum as a softener or as a flavor carrier. It as an antimicrobial effect which is why it is used as an emollient and as a humectant.
Within the European Union it is allowed to be added to food solely in chewing gum and as a flavor carrier. It can be identified by its e-number (E1518).