Methyl Esters: What They Are and What They’re Used For

Methyl esters are a common fatty acid – a form of non-toxic, biodegradable, and sustainable oleochemical.

These esters are primarily derived from natural sources like vegetable oils and animal fats.

Often referred to as FAME (fatty acid methyl ester), these compounds have strong solubility and lubricity. This allows them to act as a key ingredient in different types of industrial and household cleaners, lubricants, alternative fuels, and many consumer products that we use every day.

How Are Methyl Esters Extracted?

FAME can be produced from several sources, most often from vegetable oils, animal fats, or unused cooking oils by a process called transesterification. Using this method, glycerides and alcohols react to form fatty acids, from which methyl esters are extracted, and then prepared for use in many different products.

Mixing multiple fatty acid methyl esters combines to form biodiesel, a common alternative fuel for vehicles and aircraft. Biodiesel is also used to provide heat for cooking and energy production.

What Are Methyl Esters Used For?

Fatty acid methyl esters make up an important ingredient in a wide variety of products that we use in our daily lives. There are many different applications for fatty acid methyl esters, and some of the most common include:

  • Soaps
  • Hand cleaners
  • Shampoo
  • Cosmetic products
  • Paint strippers and solvents
  • Lubricants
  • Industrial oils
  • Household cleaners
  • Degreasers
  • Laundry detergents
  • Herbicides and pesticides
  • Fracking fluids
  • Biodiesel fuels

Because fatty acid methyl esters are biodegradable and produce low VOCs, they have a green profile. This means they are environmentally safe, versatile, and contribute to our ongoing mission to protect our communities and the environment as a whole.

Visit our Methyl Esters page to learn more information, see spec sheets, and its practical uses in everyday products.

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