Products | Dow Proplyene Glycols

Toxic Substances Portal: Propylene Glycol

1886 John Wesley Hyatt devised a method of making billiard balls with collodion or nitrocellulose.

The process began with nitrocellulose which he ground into a fine pulp and combined with camphor, formed in a mold and placed under pressure and heat.

The pressure was applied for an extended period of time to create a dense, durable billiard ball.

He names the first synthetic plastic "Celluloid".


Propylene or methyl ethylene, is an unsaturated organic compound having the chemical formula C3H6.

It has one double bond, and is the second simplest member of the alkene class of hydrocarbons.

magic potion

Propylene glycol

Propylene glycol or methyl ethyl glycol (C3H8O2) is a clear, colorless, slightly syrupy synthetic liquid at room temperature used by the chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries:

as an antifreeze;

to absorb extra water;

as a solvent for food colors and flavors;

as a solvent in the paint and plastics industries;

to maintain moisture in medicines, cosmetics, food products.

Propylene glycol is used in various edible items such as coffee-based drinks, liquid sweeteners, ice cream, whipped dairy products and soda.

Propylene glycol is metabolized in the human body into pyruvic acid, acetic acid, lactic acid, and propionaldehyde.

Alcoholic beverages in the US may contain up to 5 percent propylene glycol.

Certain formulations of artificial tears, Systane, use proplyene glycol.


Polyethylene, (C2H4)n the most common plastic, consists of a long chain of carbon atoms with two hydrogen atoms attached to each carbon atom.

Uses incluse cosmetics, grocery bags, shampoo bottles, children's toys, and bullet proof vests.


Polypropylene (C3H6)n is a thermoplastic “addition polymer” made from the combination of propylene monomers.

As polypropylene, compatible with most existing processing techniques, has many commercial uses, including packaging, automotive products, housewares, medicine, tubing, and food.

Polypropylene has better transparency than other polyolefins.

Polypropylene has a lower specific weight, so that lighter products are obtained in its applications.

Polyvinyl chloride

Polyvinyl chloride (C2H3Cl)n[2], sythesized from vinyl chloride, is the world's third-most widely produced polymer, after polyethylene and polypropylene.

Polyvinyl chloride, the only plastic made with chlorine, is 57% chlorine.

Polyvinyl chloride requires toxic additives, including heavy metals such as lead, endocrine-disrupting phthalates, and flame retardants, in order to be made into stable and usable consumer products.

These additives are released during both the use and disposal of PVC.

One byproduct during decomposition is dioxin.


Nylon monomers are manufactured by a variety of routes, starting in most cases from crude oil.

Crude oil » benzene » cyclohexane » cyclohexanone » cyclohexanone oxime » caprolactam »

Heat caprolactam to about 500° Farenheit in an inert atmosphere of nitrogen for 4-5 hours, the ring breaks and caprolactam undergoes polymerization.

The molten mass is passed through spinnerets to form fibres of nylon 6.

In water, caprolactam [(CH2)5C(O)NH] hydrolyzes to aminocaproic acid, which is used medicinally.

Monsanto and Bayer merge


Melamine, C3H6N6, contains 67% nitrogen by mass, and its derivatives have fire retardant properties due to its release of nitrogen gas when burned.

Kjeldahl and Dumas estimate protein levels by measuring nitrogen content, so they can be misled by adding nitrogen-rich compounds such as melamine.

World Health Organization food safety director 0.2 mg per kg of body mass.


Butylene, 2-methylpropene, is a series of alkenes with the general formula C4H8.

Butene is therefore obtained by catalytic cracking of long-chain hydrocarbons left during refining of crude oil.

Cracking produces a mixture of products, and the butene is extracted from this by fractional distillation.

Butene reacts with methanol and ethanol in the manufacture of the gasoline oxygenate methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE).

Butylene glycol

Butylene glycol, C4H10O2, is a solvent and viscosity conditioning agent.

Butylene glycol is commonly used as a solvent for food flavouring agents and in the manufacturing of resins.

In biology, butylene glycol is used as a hypoglycaemic agent.


Glycolic acid, C2H4O3, is the smallest α-hydroxy acid.

α-hydroxy acids are a group of organic carboxylic compounds most commonly used in cosmetic applications.

α-hydroxy acids may be derived from food products on the microscale:
glycolic acid (from sugar cane);

lactic acid (from sour milk);

malic acid (from apples);

citric acid (from citrus fruits);

tartaric acid (from grape wine).

Glycolic acid is a colorless, odorless, highly soluble hygroscopic crystalline solid.

Glycolic acid uses the hydroxyl and carboxylic acid groups to form five member ring complexes (chelates) with polyvalent metals.

This complexing ability is useful in dissolution of hard-water scale and prevention of deposition, especially in cleaning applications.

Glycolic acid readily forms salts with active metals, metal oxides and bases.

Glycolic acid is used in the textile industry as a dyeing and tanning agent, in food processing as a flavoring agent and as a preservative.

Glycolic acid is often included into emulsion polymers, solvents and additives for ink and paint in order to improve flow properties and impart gloss.

Although Glycolic acid occurs naturally as a trace component in sugarcane, beets, grapes and fruits, DuPont synthesizes the product through a sustainable manufacturing process in Belle, West Virginia.

DuPont has been the leading supplier of Glycolic acid to customers and distributors worldwide for more than 50 years

Ethylene glycol

Ethylene glycol, (CH2OH)2, is used as a raw material in the manufacture of polyester fibers and for antifreeze formulations.

Ethylene glycol is an odorless, colorless, sweet-tasting, viscous liquid.

Ethylene glycol is highly toxic.

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