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Propylene glycol is a form of mineral oil used in a range of different products, including engine coolants, paints, snack foods, and water-based personal lubricants. It’s produced when yeast and carbohydrates ferment.
There are various grades of propylene glycol. Industrial PG, such as that used in engine coolants and paints, is very toxic. Pharmaceutical grade propylene glycol is far less concentrated. It’s used in food stuffs, personal lubricants, and drug products.
Propylene glycol is often known by the acronym PG.
Propylene glycol absorbs and traps moisture. That’s why lubricants containing propylene glycol often feel wetter for longer. They also feel slippery to the touch. It’s rare to experience friction when using lubricants containing propylene glycol.
There is much debate about whether pharmaceutical grade propylene glycol is really safe for human use. While the World Health Organization and US Food and Drug Administration both consider pharmaceutical grade propylene glycol safe for human use, studies have shown this substance can provoke allergic reactions in people with asthma and allergies. Some critics fear even small amounts of propylene glycol could impact the body over time.
A small percentage of people will notice propylene glycol irritates their skin. If you notice a rash or feel a burning or itching sensation after using propylene glycol lube, you should find an alternative product without this ingredient. Propylene glycol can also cause vaginal irritation among women experiencing fungal or bacterial infections. If you’re concerned about the long-term impact of propylene glycol, you can also seek out products that do not contain this substance.