Fatty Acids – an essential building block in everyday products
It might not be obvious, but fatty acids are a vital component in our lives. They are a building block in everyday products that would not function the same – or even be possible – without it.
What are fatty acids?
Fatty acids are carboxylic acids with lengthy aliphatic chains. That chain structure is either straight (saturated) or bent (unsaturated). They can function as nutrients for living beings (humans, animals) and be a primary component in common products.
Fatty acids are found in the deconstruction of triglycerides using hydrolysis, a chemical reaction that occurs when water separates one or several chemical bonds. In this instance, hydrolysis helps break apart a triglyceride to separate three fatty acids from glycerol.
This is one source of fatty acids. Others include phospholipids, a cell membrane that contains a phosphate group and two hydrophobic extensions that contain the fatty acids. Fatty acids can also be produced synthetically.
What kinds of fatty acids do we use?
Peter Cremer works with several classifications of fatty acids – short-chain, medium-chain and long-chain fatty acids; distilled fatty acids; stearic acid; and oleic acid. The short-, medium- and long-chain fatty acids are defined by their aliphatic tails and the number of carbons within them. 8 or fewer carbons make up short-chain fatty acids, 10 to 14 carbons comprise medium-chain fatty acids, and long-chain fatty acids contain 16 and higher carbons.
Distilled fatty acids are produced through a distillation process that uses boiling points to remove impurities. This results in a variety of distilled fatty acids produced by Peter Cremer, including palm kernel oils, coconut-based oils, soybean-based oils and tallow-based oils.
Stearic acid is a long-chain fatty acid that comes from vegetable or animal fats. It is produced by using boiling water and then distillation. Oleic acid is a naturally occurring acid found in vegetables and animals.
What products use fatty acids?
The fatty acids we provide are present across several products in various industries. One of the most common products that contain fatty acids is soap. It can be found in hand, face and bar soaps, as well as shampoos, lotions, creams and facial toners. Fatty acids are also essential components of other sanitary cleaners, such as dish soaps, laundry detergents and cleaning powders.
On the industrial side, fatty acids are used in various lubricants used in production applications, such as metal, plastic and jet planes. It is also produced for resins and additives, such as paints, wood and metal coatings, plastic surfaces and vegetable-based plastic additives, and animal feed additives.
Additional uses for fatty acids include emulsifier agents, which include food emulsifiers and suspension agents that keep additives blended in certain products.