As a hexahydric alcohol, Sorbitol is a member of the polyhydric alcohol family, the lowest of which are ethylene glycol and glycerol. The close chemical relationship between Sorbitol and the lower alcohols (like glycol and glycerol) is responsible for the similarity in their general physical properties and applications in industrial technology.
Sorbitol is soluble in water to approximately 83 parts Sorbitol in 100 parts of water by weight.
Viscosity as well as specific gravity of Sorbitol 70% solution is higher than that of glycerine at the same concentration as can be seen in figure1 and Table1. Sorbitol is extremely useful as humectant. Because it is stable and non-volatile even with water vapour, there is no loss during heating or cooking or by evaporation. Unlike ethylene glycol, Sorbitol is non-toxic and non-irritant. The taste of Sorbitol is mild, sweet, cooling, and unobtrusive. Sorbitol is more resistant to bacteriological degradation than sugar. This resistance also makes it less vulnerable to mould growth than most other humectant plasticising material. Sorbitol is chemically inert and compatible with many chemical substances. In general, the hexitols and particularly Sorbitol have the ability to chelate iron, copper and aluminium ions in aqueous solutions.
Sorbitol undergoes several chemical reactions like oxidation, reduction, esterification and etherification, yielding such important products as ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), Sorbitan sorbides etc.