What is Monopropylene Glycol (MPG)? Uses and chemical properties
Monopropylene glycol, or simply called glycol, is a colorless organic substance, tasteless and odorless, widely used in various sectors of modern industry due to its hydrological properties, as well as for its status as a polyhydric alcohol and its ability to miscibility in water and other liquids such as acetone or chloroform.
It is important to mention that this alcohol is obtained by hydration of propylene oxide, so it is a relatively easy substance to produce. It is possible to find two types of monopropylene glycol in the modern market: The technical grade for industrial use and monopropylene glycol USP, which is for human use.
Unlike other organic substances, monopropylene glycol is characterized by two hydroxyl groups present in its chemical structure, so it has a more viscous texture and a significantly higher density than most alcohols. In addition, it is not highly harmful to humans as it is not very toxic.
Chemical properties of Monopropylene Glycol (MPG)
Its main property is its oily and colourless consistency. It’s an essential product for the preservation of some foods in the production industry. Let’s take a look at some of its key properties:
- It’s a very hygroscopic material, which indicates its ability to retain or be attracted to water. This property keeps products hydrated or, failing that, can rehydrate them.
- Unlike other alcoholic substances, Monopropylene Glycol is not volatile.
- Although it is not considered flammable, it’s a product that can cause explosions when in contact with fire.
Frequent uses of Monopropylene Glycol (MPG)
Food preservation and processing
One of the most favorable chemical properties of this substance is its remarkable ability to accumulate water. For this precise reason, it is commonly used for the preservation of a wide range of food products, thanks to the fact that it helps to keep them hydrated to prevent their decomposition for a considerably longer period of time.
This alcohol is commonly used as a component in the formulation of numerous food products, including carbonated beverages, soft drinks and chocolate. It is also incorporated as a surface coating to protect the food from numerous external elements and to ensure optimum moisture levels.
This substance is not only used in the food industry as a preservative or moisturizer: It is also commonly used as an anticoagulant to preserve the original texture of products, as well as a flavor enhancer for numerous vegetable products, ice cream, pastry creams and pet food.
On the other hand, monopropylene glycol is sometimes used as a solvent for dyes and other edible products, since it greatly facilitates their application by efficiently diluting this type of substances. In the same way, it does not modify the original taste or texture of the food.
But that’s not all. Monopropylene glycol also has binding properties, so it helps foods retain their original shape and texture by increasing their resistance to high temperatures, making it a frequently used component in the crystallization of many products such as chocolate, margarine and butter.
At the same time, Monopropylene glycol is characterized by being non-volatile and non-flammable, as well as being an excellent conductor of low temperatures. For this reason it is ideal as a refrigerant for large space cooling systems and domestic refrigeration devices.
Among the most favorable aspects of Monopropylene Glycol is its ability to reach extremely low temperatures in a short time, so it is commonly used in refrigeration systems with cooling coils, which directly transfer the cold to food and beverages.
Another striking feature of this alcohol is that it can restore the moisture levels of the skin, so it is a common component in many moisturizers and restorative creams, as it has the ability to conduct the water present in the dermis to the inner layers of the skin to reduce dryness.
Monopropylene glycol is also used in the cosmetic industry as an active component in different products, including shaving lotions, deodorants, repairing masks, styling creams, shampoos, conditioners, beard soaps and balms, all because it is an excellent lubricant, which prevents irritation of skin with dryness problems.
It should be noted that this substance is characterized by being highly viscous and having a texture similar to oil. In any case, it is not corrosive, so it is a common element in the manufacture of lubricants for vehicles and industrial machines, to ensure the least friction between moving parts in order to increase its durability.
Monopropylene glycol is even frequently used in most intimate lubricants because it is very effective and totally safe for people. It can also acquire numerous flavors and smells by adding chemical flavorings to its formula, so it is also a common element in most condoms.
This alcohol is also used in the pharmaceutical industry to increase the adherence and hydration capacity of numerous topical medicines such as creams and ointments. It is also often used as a preservative, as it is ideal for preserving the chemical characteristics of its formula.
Monopropylene glycol also allows topical medications to be kept below room temperature to ensure a cool and pleasant sensation for users when applying the product. It also stimulates healing and regeneration of the skin.
Other uses of monopropylene glycol
This substance is also commonly used as a lubricant and insulator for electrical installations, as a preservative agent for laboratory samples, a component for some paints, a hydraulic fluid for industrial machinery and a primary component of hand sanitizer.