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Polyethylene Glycol vs. Propylene Glycol: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sumera Saeed || Published on December 26, 2023
Polyethylene glycol is a polymer used in laxatives and lubricants, while propylene glycol is a small organic alcohol used in food and cosmetics.

Key Differences

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a polyether compound, a long-chain polymer of ethylene oxide. Propylene glycol is a small, diol alcohol derived from propane.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 26, 2023
PEG is used in pharmaceuticals as a laxative, in personal care products as a lubricant, and in industrial applications. Propylene glycol is used in food as a humectant, in pharmaceuticals, and in cosmetic products as a skin-conditioning agent.
Huma Saeed
Dec 26, 2023
PEG varies in consistency from liquid to solid, depending on its molecular weight. Propylene glycol is a viscous, colorless liquid.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 26, 2023
PEG is generally considered safe for use in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, with varying safety based on molecular weight. Propylene glycol is recognized as safe for use in food and cosmetics, but can be irritating at higher concentrations.
Janet White
Dec 26, 2023
PEG is soluble in water and many organic solvents, stable, and non-volatile. Propylene glycol is also water-soluble, hygroscopic, and maintains stability in various chemical environments.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 26, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Chemical Structure

Long-chain polymer of ethylene oxide
Small diol alcohol derived from propane
Sumera Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Common Uses

Laxatives, lubricants, industrial
Food humectant, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics
Sumera Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Physical Form

Ranges from liquid to solid
Viscous, colorless liquid
Sumera Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Toxicity

Generally safe, varies with molecular weight
Generally safe, irritating at high concentrations
Aimie Carlson
Dec 26, 2023

Solubility and Stability

Soluble in water and organic solvents, stable
Water-soluble, hygroscopic, chemically stable
Aimie Carlson
Dec 26, 2023
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Polyethylene Glycol and Propylene Glycol Definitions

Polyethylene Glycol

Varies in form from liquid to solid based on molecular weight.
The polyethylene glycol in the solution was in its liquid form.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Propylene Glycol

Recognized as safe for use in food and cosmetic products.
Propylene glycol is used in many cosmetic creams due to its safety profile.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Polyethylene Glycol

Soluble in water and used in various industrial applications.
Polyethylene glycol's solubility makes it useful in many industrial processes.
Harlon Moss
Dec 09, 2023

Propylene Glycol

A small organic alcohol used in food and cosmetics.
Propylene glycol is commonly found in many food flavorings.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Polyethylene Glycol

A polymer used as a laxative and lubricant.
Polyethylene glycol is a key ingredient in many over-the-counter laxatives.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Propylene Glycol

Used in pharmaceuticals as a solvent and carrier.
The medication used propylene glycol to dissolve and carry the active ingredient.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Polyethylene Glycol

Considered safe for use in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
The skincare product contained polyethylene glycol for its moisturizing properties.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Propylene Glycol

Acts as a humectant in food products.
Propylene glycol helps to retain moisture in packaged baked goods.
Huma Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Polyethylene Glycol

Used in pharmaceuticals for its lubricating properties.
Polyethylene glycol helps to ease the application of certain creams.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 09, 2023

Propylene Glycol

A colorless, viscous liquid with hygroscopic properties.
The propylene glycol in the formulation contributed to its thicker texture.
Janet White
Dec 09, 2023

FAQs

Can polyethylene glycol be used in food?

Not typically used in food; more common in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

What are common uses of polyethylene glycol?

As a laxative, lubricant, and in industrial applications.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

What is polyethylene glycol?

A polymer used in pharmaceuticals, personal care, and industry.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Is polyethylene glycol safe?

Generally safe, but safety varies with molecular weight.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Is propylene glycol safe in cosmetics?

Yes, it's recognized as safe but can be irritating in high concentrations.
Janet White
Dec 26, 2023

What is the physical state of propylene glycol?

A colorless, viscous liquid.
Harlon Moss
Dec 26, 2023

How does polyethylene glycol vary in form?

It ranges from liquid to solid based on its molecular weight.
Janet White
Dec 26, 2023

How does polyethylene glycol affect skin care products?

It acts as a moisturizer and enhances the texture of products.
Janet White
Dec 26, 2023

What is propylene glycol?

A small organic alcohol used in food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Can propylene glycol be used in medications?

Yes, as a solvent and carrier for active ingredients.
Janet White
Dec 26, 2023

Is polyethylene glycol toxic?

Generally non-toxic, but toxicity can depend on molecular weight.
Janet White
Dec 26, 2023

Can polyethylene glycol cause allergies?

Rare, but possible, especially in individuals with sensitive skin.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

How does propylene glycol affect pharmaceutical formulations?

It improves the solubility and stability of medications.
Janet White
Dec 26, 2023

What are the uses of propylene glycol in food?

As a humectant, solvent, and to retain moisture.
Janet White
Dec 26, 2023

How is polyethylene glycol used in laxatives?

It helps to retain water in the stool, easing bowel movements.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 26, 2023

Is propylene glycol a natural ingredient?

It's synthetically made, but it's used in both synthetic and natural formulations.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Is propylene glycol the same as ethylene glycol?

No, they are different compounds; ethylene glycol is more toxic.
Harlon Moss
Dec 26, 2023

Can propylene glycol be used as an antifreeze?

Yes, it's used in antifreeze formulations.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

What is the role of propylene glycol in baked goods?

It helps to maintain moisture and extend shelf life.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 26, 2023

What industries use polyethylene glycol extensively?

Pharmaceuticals, personal care, and various industrial sectors.
Janet White
Dec 26, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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