Cerotic acid

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Cerotic acid

Cerotic acid, also known by its systematic name as hexacosanoic acid, is a saturated fatty acid with the chemical formula C26H52O2. It is a long-chain fatty acid, found in various natural sources, including beeswax and carnauba wax. Cerotic acid is notable for its high melting point and its role in the structure and function of certain types of waxes.

Sources and Occurrence[edit | edit source]

Cerotic acid is primarily found in the natural waxes produced by plants and animals. The most common sources of cerotic acid are:

  • Beeswax: A natural wax produced by honey bees. Cerotic acid is a major component contributing to the hardness and melting point of beeswax.
  • Carnauba wax: Extracted from the leaves of the carnauba palm, native to Brazil. Carnauba wax is known for its high melting point, which is partly due to the presence of cerotic acid.

Chemical Properties[edit | edit source]

Cerotic acid is characterized by its long carbon chain, consisting of 26 carbon atoms. It is a saturated fatty acid, meaning it has no double bonds in its carbon chain, which contributes to its solid state at room temperature and its high melting point. The molecular formula of cerotic acid is C26H52O2, and it has a melting point of approximately 78-82°C.

Biological Role and Uses[edit | edit source]

While cerotic acid does not play a significant role in human metabolism, it is important in the context of natural waxes where it contributes to their structural integrity and physical properties. In addition to its presence in natural waxes, cerotic acid has applications in various industries:

  • Cosmetics: Used as an ingredient in cosmetics for its emollient properties.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Incorporated into formulations for its physical properties, such as forming protective barriers.
  • Food industry: Used as a coating to preserve freshness in fruits and other products.

Synthesis and Extraction[edit | edit source]

Cerotic acid can be synthesized through elongation reactions of shorter-chain fatty acids in the laboratory. However, it is most commonly obtained through the extraction and purification from natural waxes. The extraction process typically involves the use of solvents and subsequent purification steps to isolate cerotic acid from other wax components.

Health and Safety[edit | edit source]

As a natural component of waxes used in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals, cerotic acid is generally considered safe. However, like all chemical substances, it should be handled with care, and safety data sheets (SDS) should be consulted to understand its properties and potential hazards.

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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD