Fatty Alcohols – a common compound in common products
Fatty alcohols play a crucial role in the production of everyday products, such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and detergents. Like fatty acids, fatty alcohols are critical for the manufacture and efficacy of these products.
What are fatty alcohols?
Fatty alcohols occur naturally in vegetable and animal sources. Vegetable oils serve as traditional sources of fatty alcohols, as these plant-based sources provide a range of alcohols with varying carbon density (from six to 24). Vegetable-based alcohols are more popular in some applications than animal sources because of their high content in lauryl chains. These carbon chains are highly effective in detergents for cleaning.
Fatty alcohols have long aliphatic, straight chains with high molecular weights, consisting of as few as four to six carbons or as many as 26 carbons, depending on the source. The short-chain alcohols are oily and colorless, while longer chains take on a solid form with a waxy exterior. Natural fatty alcohols have an even amount of carbon atoms and a single alcohol group attached to the terminal carbon.
As with fatty acids, triglycerides are necessary for natural fatty alcohol production. For fatty acids, hydrolysis is used to deconstruct the triglycerides. For fatty alcohols, transesterification (swapping an ester compound with an alcohol compound) of the triglycerides produces methyl esters. Hydrogeneration of an acid or an ester follows, which creates fatty alcohols. There are also synthetic methods utilizing petrochemical sources, which form branched and straight chain synthetic alcohols.
The Cremer Approach
We offer a broad variation of natural fatty alcohols. These variations have compositions that range from as few as eight carbons to as many as 20 carbons. These fatty alcohols are used in a diverse range of products, including personal care, pharmaceutical, emollients, additives and surfactants.
On the personal care side, cosmetics, such as foundations, concealers and lipsticks; hygiene products such as shampoos, conditioners and salt scrubs; and skincare, such as lotions, gels and moisturizers all use variations of fatty alcohols in their formulas. They can also be used in perfumes and colognes.
On the industrial side, potential applications include lubricants for nuts and bolts, plastic molds and metal production. Release agents and liquid pool covers also can be made with fatty alcohols.
Additional applications include food additive flavor enhancers, coatings, defoamers, thickening agents, detergent boosters and fabric softeners.