What is Propylene Glycol (E1520) in Food? Uses, Safe, Side Effects

What is Propylene Glycol (E1520) in Food? Uses, Safe, Side Effects


Table of Contents

Propylene glycol is a common additive used to create a pleasant taste as an ingredient in foods and beverages. Propylene glycol is mostly used in soft drinks, cake mixes, frostings, ice cream, candy, and other foods. In addition to creating a edible taste, propylene glycol helps prevent food and beverages from freezing. Depending on how it’s used in the product it can be labeled as E1520 or E1520a.

Like many products that make their way onto our shelves and palates, propylene glycol has its share of controversies surrounding it. Propylene glycol does not accumulate in the body but some people may have allergic reactions after being exposed to it for long periods of time or frequently. In this article we will discuss what is propylene glycol (E1520), is it safe, side effects and other uses including cancer treatment therapy information.

What is propylene glycol?

Propylene glycol is a synthetic alcohol made from propylene oxide and water. It is classified as a clear, colorless viscous liquid with no odor at room temperature. The chemical formula for propylene glycol is C3H8O2. It can have different physical properties depending on its purity level and the conditions under which it was manufactured. It boils at 205 degrees Celsius when exposed to an open flame; however, it can be heated higher if more pressure is applied.

This colorless, odorless hygroscopic liquid is a versatile organic compound and is used in many industries, including food and beverage production, pharmaceutical manufacturing, agricultural pest control, cosmetics and as a solvent for many chemicals. In the US, it is also used as an active ingredient in dehumidifiers that can be found in residential or commercial settings.

Propylene glycol antifreeze

Propylene glycol antifreeze is a clear, colorless liquid that’s used as a coolant in vehicles. It’s also used to reduce the freezing point of water in refrigeration units and air conditioners. It can be found in many products including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and food processing materials.

Propylene glycol antifreeze is a common ingredient found in many household products. The chemical compound is used as an additive in personal care products like toothpaste, body wash, shampoo and cosmetics because it acts as an emollient or thickening agent. In addition to being used as an additive in personal care products, propylene glycol antifreeze is also used to create artificial smoke for theatrical productions or indoor fireworks displays.

Propylene glycol antifreeze has many uses outside of personal care products and food processing materials. It is a common ingredient found in some foods like ice cream, chewing gum and cake mixes because it acts as a preservative that adds water-binding properties to food products. Propylene glycol antifreeze can also be used as a solvent for pharmaceuticals or pesticides during production before they’re packaged into their final containers for sale at your local pharmacy or grocery store.

Mono propylene glycol

Mono propylene glycol (MPG) is a clear, colorless liquid used in water-based formulations including personal care products, pharmaceuticals and food additives. It can be used as an alternative to polypropylene glycol (PPG) when formulating clear solutions or when performance requirements for PPG are not met.

Mono propylene glycol is produced by the reaction of propylene oxide with water. Mono propylene glycol is soluble in water and is miscible with most common organic solvents. It is also known as 2-propanediol, isopropyl alcohol 2-propanediol and dipropylene glycol.

Propylene glycol alginate

Propylene glycol alginate is a natural hydrocolloid. It is an edible substance obtained from the cell walls of brown algae.

Propylene glycol alginate has many applications in food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

It is used as an emulsifier and stabilizer in foods, such as ice cream and whipped toppings.

It can also be found in toothpaste, medicines, mouthwash and cough syrups to help thicken them. In some products it helps to prevent separation of ingredients during storage by forming a gel-like mass inside the product container.

In cosmetics, propylene glycol alginate is used as an emulsion stabilizer, thickener, suspending agent or viscosity modifier (thinning agent). It is also a moisturizer which keeps skin soft and smooth.

What foods contain propylene glycol?

Propylene glycol is a commonly used additive in food. It is also used in cosmetics, medicines, and even tobacco products. Propylene glycol can be found naturally in some foods, such as avocados, potatoes and bananas.

Foods Containing Propylene Glycol

One of the most common uses of propylene glycol is as an additive to enhance the flavor of food. Propylene glycol is often added to foods that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners, such as diet soda or ice cream. Propylene glycol is also used in several other types of foods:

  • Baked goods
  • Candy
  • Dairy products (buttercream frosting)
  • Ice cream
  • Margarine and shortening spreads
  • Non-dairy coffee creamer products (like Carnation)
  • Spreads and toppings (like Jell-O)

How is propylene glycol made?

The answer depends on the method used to produce it. There are three main ways:

  1. Propylene oxide (CH 2 CH 2 O) can be reacted with water to produce propylene glycol (CH 3 CH(OH)CH 2 OH). This reaction is carried out at high pressures and temperatures., with the following reaction equation: propylene-glycol-manufacturing-process-reacting-propylene-oxide-with-water-7827080-7371291
  2. The simplest way to make propylene glycol is by reacting propylene with chlorinated water. This reaction produces hydrogen chloride, which is removed from the mixture by distillation. The remaining liquid is distilled to remove any impurities, and the resulting product is a colorless liquid with a mild odor. It’s also called 1-chloro-2,3-epoxypropane or epichlorohydrin.
  3. Glycerin hydrogenolysis: Propylene glycol is produced by the catalytic hydrogenation of glycerin, which can be derived from vegetable oils or animal fats. The reaction takes place at high temperatures and pressures and requires an acid catalyst. After the reaction, the propylene glycol needs to be distilled and purified before it is ready for use as an industrial solvent or humectant.


Other names
  • Propane-1,2-diol
  • 1,2-dihydroxypropane
  • methyl ethylene glycol
  • 1,2-PG
CAS number 57-55-6
Chemical formula C3H8O2
Molecular weight 76.10
Appearance A colourless, hygroscopic and viscous liquid, odorless and tasteless
Solubility Soluble in water, ethanol and acetone



Difference between polyethylene glycol 400 and propylene glycol

Polyethylene glycol 400 (PEG 400) is a synthetic polymer of ethylene glycol, most often used as a solvent and carrier for flavorings, fragrances and essential oils. It is also used as an adjuvant in many drugs to improve solubility.

Propylene glycol is a clear, colorless or slightly yellow liquid which is odorless but has a faintly sweet taste. It can be used as an antifreeze and to absorb extra water from the air in humidifiers, dehumidifiers, etc.. Propylene glycol is also used as a solvent in food products like ice cream and cake mixes.

Propylene glycol (PG) vs ethylene glycol (EG)

Propylene glycol (PG) and ethylene glycol (EG) are two common ingredients in e-liquid. They are both colorless, odorless liquids that can be used as solvents for flavorings, nicotine and other ingredients. The difference between the two is that PG is generally considered less toxic than EG, but it can still cause allergic reactions.

They’re both known as alcohols, which are simple organic compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Both PG and EG have similar chemical structures, but they have different properties because of their differences in molecular structure.

The main difference between these two chemicals is their boiling point — the temperature at which they start to evaporate into gas. PG boils at around 320°F (160°C), while EG boils at 446°F (230°C). For this reason, vapers should never allow their e-liquid to get too hot before vaping it.

Propylene Glycol (PG)

Propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid used as a solvent in many products including foods and cosmetics. The FDA has approved it for use in food and cosmetics, but not for inhalation or ingestion. It’s also found in antifreeze solutions.

Ethylene Glycol (EG)

Ethylene glycol is another organic compound that contains both carbon atoms and alcohol groups. It’s commonly used as an industrial solvent at high temperatures and pressures, but it can also be found in antifreeze solutions sold for homes and automobiles. Like propylene glycol, ethylene glycol is considered safe to consume orally or topically when properly diluted, however it can be toxic if ingested in large amounts or swallowed directly from the bottle.

What is propylene glycol used for?

propylene glycol for skin

Propylene glycol is a synthetic compound used as an excipient in pharmaceuticals and food products. It is also used as a solvent for food colorings, flavors, and fragrances. Propylene glycol uses including:

Propylene glycol in food

Propylene glycol is used as a humectant (substance that helps retain moisture) in some foods such as baked goods, meats, soups, candies and beverages. Propylene glycol can be used to maintain moisture in foods at low temperatures for long periods of time. It is also used to stabilize the foam of whipped toppings and frostings on cakes. It may be present in the following food products:

  • Cakes
  • Salad dressing
  • Pastries
  • Icing
  • Ice cream
  • Puddings and desserts
  • Sauces and Soups
  • Sweet food
  • Baking ingredients and mixes

Flavors & fragrances, vitamins and colors

Propylene glycol is used as a solvent for flavorings, food colors and vitamins in many cosmetic products such as lotions and shampoos. It may also be found in some medications or nutritional supplements.

Bread and pastry

In food products such as bread and pastry, propylene glycol helps keep them moist and fresh. The substance also serves as a humectant to keep foods from drying out or becoming hard. In some countries, propylene glycol is approved for use in baked goods by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Propylene glycol alginate and Propylene glycol esters of fatty acids

Propylene glycol alginate and Propylene glycol esters of fatty acids are used in a variety of industries, including animal feed, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Animal feed

Propylene glycol alginate is used as an emulsifier in aquaculture feed. It prevents the formation of an oily layer on top of the water, which would prevent oxygen from entering the water and suffocating fish or shrimp. In addition to its emulsifying properties, propylene glycol alginate has a laxative effect that helps livestock pass waste more quickly, which improves their overall health and reduces pollution from manure runoff.


Propylene glycol alginate is used in cosmetics as a thickening agent or viscosity modifier. It helps keep the product stable and prevents separation between ingredients that would otherwise separate due to differing densities. It is also used as an emulsifier in cosmetics, helping bind oil and water together into a cream or lotion form without separating over time.

It may be present in the following products:

  • Deodorant
  • Makeup
  • Shampoo
  • Lotion
  • Hair products
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste


A common purpose of propylene glycol in wipes is as a humectant, a similar function to that of glycerin. PG wipes will allow your skin to maintain moisture for a brief period of time because they can absorb some moisture from the air. This will prevent your skin from drying out due to liquid evaporation after wiping.

Its antibacterial properties are another reason for adding it. It is not uncommon for wipes to be packaged in a single piece. This means that unused wipes are easily contacted with the air and potentially contaminated with bacteria after they have been used.

As a result of propylene glycol’s antibacterial properties, it can delay or inhibit the growth of bacteria on wipes, thereby protecting the health of users. It is especially relevant when wipes are intended for women and babies.

Industrial applications

It is used as a thickener, stabilizer and gelling agent in food industries. It is used in the preparation of ice cream, jelly, soups, sauces, salad dressing and other products. It is also used as an excipient for tablets and capsules for oral administration.

Antifreeze & Coolant

In general, antifreeze is a mixture of distilled water and ethylene glycol or propylene glycol. The low freezing point ensures that the engine won’t freeze at low temperatures. Pure chemicals, such as ethylene glycol or propylene glycol, can also be used as antifreeze.

Industrial grade propylene glycol can be used as antifreeze by lowering water freezing points by -59°C, as well as as a coolant by raising the boiling temperature of water and removing a lot of heat generated during engine operation due to its high boiling point of 188.2°C.

As an anti-boiling, anti-corrosion, and anti-freezing material, PG can be used for cooling systems, such as those in automobiles and ships.

Is propylene glycol safe to eat?

There is almost no side effect of this product and it has been approved by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), as well as the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). In addition, some consumers are concerned when they see propylene glycol listed in the ingredients of their food, and are concerned how we can eat food with the ingredient in it that can be harmful to our health.


A general recognized as safe (GRAS) ingredient, propylene glycol is widely used in food in the following applications: anticaking agent, dough strengthener, emulsifier, humectant, solvent, stabilizer, thickener, texturizer, and others. Listed below are the maximum levels of approved food uses:

  • Seasonings and flavorings 97%
  • Confections and frostings 24%
  • Nuts and nut products 5%
  • Frozen dairy products 2.5%
  • Others 2.0%


The European Union (EU) has approved propylene glycol (E1520) as a food additive that can be used by the food industry to carry coloring, emulsifiers and antioxidants, enzymes, flavourings, and nutrients.

Safety re-evaluation in 2018

Based on studies of metabolism, genotoxicity, chronic & subchronic toxicity, reproductive & developmental toxicity, and other research, EFSA concluded that the 1996 ADI of 25 mg/kg bw per day was not required to be revised.

The European Food Safety Authority did not consider propylene glycol an allergen. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) has also reported that propylene glycol, despite its low irritant potential, has no allergy potential or immunotoxicity when used in cosmetics.


Function Class: food additives, carrier solvent, glazing agent and humectant.

Acceptable daily intake: In 1973, ADI “0-25 mg/kg bw” was set.

What are the benefits of propylene glycol?

Propylene glycol is a compound that has a wide variety of applications. It is used in many products, including food, medicine and cosmetics.

One of the benefits of propylene glycol is that it is an effective solvent. Propylene glycol can dissolve many substances and carry them through other mediums. It can also be used as an anti-freezing agent because it prevents water from freezing at very low temperatures.

Propylene glycol can be used as an ingredient in food products such as baked goods, ice cream and beverages such as beer and wine. It also helps keep these foods moist while they are being cooked or stored. In addition to keeping food moist, propylene glycol may also help preserve the color of some foods such as baked goods and ice cream because it inhibits discoloration caused by oxidation reactions with air during storage time.

Propylene glycol may also be added to medications to improve their water solubility so that they will dissolve more easily in your body after swallowing them orally (by mouth).

What are the side effects of propylene glycol?

The side effects of propylene glycol are similar to the side effects of other alcohols and include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Thirst
  • Congestion
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Headache
  • Nausea

Propylene glycol allergy

Propylene glycol is approved for use in foods by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, it’s not approved for use in oral or parenteral medications. In addition, the FDA has received reports of allergic reactions in people who’ve ingested or inhaled propylene glycol.

Propylene glycol allergy symptoms can include:

  • Rash
  • Hives (itchy welts on your skin)
  • Swelling of your lips or face
  • Difficulty breathing

Where to buy propylene glycol?

If you’re looking for a great price on propylene glycol, then you’ll want to check out some of the following sites:

  1. Amazon – This site offers a variety of sizes of propylene glycol with pricing options that range from $6.99 to $19.99 per gallon. The site also offers free shipping on orders over $35 (or $25 if you have an Amazon Prime membership).
  2. eBay – You can find both 1-gallon and 5-gallon containers of propylene glycol on eBay with prices ranging from $8 to $15 per gallon.
  3. Walmart –  Walmart stocks several products with propylene glycol such as antifreeze coolants and motor oil additives.

Frequently asked questions

Why is propylene glycol banned in europe?

In Europe, propylene glycol is banned from use in the food industry because it’s classified as possibly harmful to humans. Propylene glycol may be used in cosmetics and medicine if the product is labeled “for external use only” or “not intended for oral ingestion.”

What are the substitutes of propylene glycol?

The substitutes of propylene glycol are:

  1. Glycerin: Glycerin is a natural substance that is produced in the body and can be easily obtained from plants. It is also used as a sweetener, preservative, and humectant.
  2. Ethyl alcohol: Ethyl alcohol has a sweet taste and aroma but it is harmful to the body when taken in large quantities. It is very much like ethanol (drinking alcohol) but without any odor or color.
  3. Polyethylene glycol: Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a synthetic polymer which can be used as a laxative or to treat burns and wounds because of its ability to form an occlusive barrier over them.

Is propylene glycol natural?

No, propylene glycol is a synthetic compound, meaning it doesn’t occur naturally. However, propylene glycol is used in many essential oils, where it’s often added as a preservative and solvent.

Is propylene glycol vegan?

Yes, propylene glycol is vegan.

Propylene glycol is a synthetic organic compound found in many products such as moisturizers, shampoos, cosmetics, and even food products. Propylene glycol can be derived from petroleum or natural gas as well as coal tar. In order for propylene glycol to be considered vegan-friendly, it must be derived from ethylene gas which comes from plants like corn and wheat.

Is propylene glycol halal?

Yes, propylene glycol is halal. Propylene glycol is a clear, colorless liquid used in cosmetics and personal care products. It’s also used in food manufacturing, including as a preservative in other food products.

Propylene glycol is produced by fermentation of sugars derived from corn or sugar cane, which are both halal sources of glucose. The product is not distilled or purified during production, so it retains the same components and contaminants that were present in the original plant materials.

Is propylene glycol kosher?

Yes, propylene glycol is kosher. Propylene glycol is an organic compound that can be used in a variety of ways, including as a preservative in food and beverages. It is also used as a solvent for food coloring, flavorings, and other additives. Propylene glycol is used extensively in the food and beverage industry.

Is propylene glycol gluten free?

Yes, propylene glycol is gluten-free. Propylene glycol is a synthetic compound that can be derived from either petroleum or plant sources. It’s used in the production of polyester, antifreeze, brake fluid and other industrial products.

Is propylene glycol toxicity?

Propylene glycol is a colorless, odorless and nearly tasteless chemical that is widely used in cosmetics, food and beverages. It has been classified as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA has established a maximum limit of propylene glycol in foods at 15 g per kilogram of food (g/kg). The European Union allows up to 15 g/kg for oral use and 25 g/kg for topical use.

Is propylene glycol safe for skin?

Yes, propylene glycol is safe for skin.

Propylene glycol can be found in many cosmetics and personal care products, including moisturizers, sunscreens, cleansers, shampoos and conditioners. Propylene glycol can also be found in some hair de-frizzing treatments as well as shaving creams or gels.


As a result of a thorough research, it can be concluded that propylene glycol is safe to consume. It is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. FDA, and the EU Commission has listed propylene glycol as suitable for consumption. However, some people are still allergic to propylene glycol and suffer from itchy eyes and runny nose after consumption of substance containing this chemical. While propylene glycol is usually found in food products, small quantities, it nevertheless has various other uses ranging from electronic products to pharmaceutical preparations

Sophie Feng

Sophie Feng

Sophie Feng is the author of gradechemical.com, she is the co-founder of the grade chemical network. She has been in grade chemical company since 2017, with a working knowledge of food chemical .

Recent Post:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


One professional food chemical manufacturing company in China, we can supply different types of food additives, flavors fragrances, feed additives, food ingredients, and custom chemicals, etc

Fill out the form and our sales team will contact you with our best prices.

Scroll to Top

Ask for Quick Quote

We will contact you within 1 working day, please pay attention to the email.