Glycerol monostearate

Glycerol monostearate, commonly known as GMS, is a monoglyceride commonly used as an emulsifier in foods.[3] It takes the form of a white, odorless, and sweet-tasting flaky powder that is hygroscopic. Chemically it is the glycerol ester of stearic acid.

Glycerol monostearate

1-glycerol monostearate (1-isomer)

2-glycerol monostearate (2-isomer)
IUPAC name
2,3-Dihydroxypropyl octadecanoate
Other names
Glyceryl monostearate
Glycerin monostearate
  • Compounds
  • (Mix): Mixture of 1- and 2- isomers
  • (1-): 1-glycerol monostearate
  • (2-): 2-glycerol monostearate
3D model (JSmol)
Abbreviations GMS
ECHA InfoCard 100.004.242
Molar mass 358.563 g·mol−1
Appearance White solid
Density 1.03 g/cm3
Melting point (Mix) 57–65 °C (135–149 °F)

(1-) 81 °C (178 °F) [1]
(2-) 73–74 °C (163–165 °F) [2]

Flash point 230 °C (446 °F) (open cup)
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references

Structure, synthesis, and occurrence

Glycerol monostearate exists as three stereoisomers, the enantiomeric pair of 1-glycerol monostearate and 2-glycerol monostearate. Typically these are encountered as a mixture as many of their properties are similar.

Commercial material used in foods is produced industrially by a glycerolysis reaction between triglycerides (from either vegetable or animal fats) and glycerol.[4]

Glycerol monostearate occurs naturally in the body as a product of the breakdown of fats by pancreatic lipase. It is present at very low levels in certain seed oils.


GMS is a food additive used as a thickening, emulsifying, anticaking, and preservative agent; an emulsifying agent for oils, waxes, and solvents; a protective coating for hygroscopic powders; a solidifier and control release agent in pharmaceuticals; and a resin lubricant. It is also used in cosmetics and hair-care products.[5]

GMS is largely used in baking preparations to add "body" to the food. It is somewhat responsible for giving ice cream and whipped cream their smooth texture. It is sometimes used as an antistaling agent in bread.

See also

Compendial status


  1. Averill, H. P.; Roche, J. N.; King, C. G. (March 1929). "SYNTHETIC GLYCERIDES. I. PREPARATION AND MELTING POINTS OF GLYCERIDES OF KNOWN CONSTITUTION". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 51 (3): 866–872. doi:10.1021/ja01378a032.
  2. Buchnea, Dmytro (February 1967). "Acyl migration in glycerides. I. A bimolecular resonant ion complex as intermediate in acyl migration of monoglycerides". Chemistry and Physics of Lipids. 1 (2): 113–127. doi:10.1016/0009-3084(67)90004-7.
  3. Jens Birk Lauridsen (1976). "Food emulsifiers: Surface activity, edibility, manufacture, composition, and application". Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 53 (6): 400–407. doi:10.1007/BF02605731.
  4. Sonntag, Norman O. V. (1982). "Glycerolysis of fats and methyl esters — Status, review and critique". Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 59 (10): 795A–802A. doi:10.1007/BF02634442. ISSN 0003-021X.
  5. Glycerol monostearate Cheminfo
  6. The British Pharmacopoeia Secretariat (2009). "Index, BP 2009" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 April 2009. Retrieved 18 March 2010.

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