Lauric acid

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Lauric acid
Lauric acid.png
CAS number 143-07-7 YesY
PubChem 3893
ChemSpider 3756 N
Jmol-3D images Image 1
Molecular formula C12H24O2
Molar mass 200.31776
Appearance white powder
Odor slight odor of bay oil
Density 0.880 g/cm3
Melting point 43.2 °C[1]
Boiling point 298.9 °C
Solubility in water 0.006 g/100 mL (20 °C)
Refractive index (nD) 1.423
Viscosity 7.30 mPa·s at 323 K
NFPA 704
Flammability code 1: Must be pre-heated before ignition can occur. Flash point over 93 °C (200 °F). E.g., canola oil Health code 1: Exposure would cause irritation but only minor residual injury. E.g., turpentine Reactivity code 1: Normally stable, but can become unstable at elevated temperatures and pressures. E.g., calcium Special hazards (white): no codeNFPA 704 four-colored diamond
Flash point ≥ 110 °C
Related compounds
Related compounds Glyceryl laurate
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
 N (verify) (what is: YesY/N?)
Infobox references

Lauric acid (systematically: dodecanoic acid), the saturated fatty acid with a 12-carbon atom chain, thus falling into the medium chain fatty acids, is a white, powdery solid with a faint odor of bay oil or soap.


Lauric acid, as a component of triglycerides, comprises about half of the fatty acid content in coconut oil, laurel oil, and in palm kernel oil (not to be confused with palm oil),[2][3] Otherwise it is relatively uncommon. It is also found in human breast milk (6.2% of total fat), cow's milk (2.9%), and goat's milk (3.1%).[2]


Like many other fatty acids, lauric acid is inexpensive, has a long shelf-life, and is non-toxic and safe to handle. It is mainly used for the production of soaps and cosmetics. For these purposes, lauric acid is neutralized with sodium hydroxide to give sodium laurate, which is a soap. Most commonly, sodium laurate is obtained by saponification of various oils, such as coconut oil. These precursors give mixtures of sodium laurate and other soaps.[3]

Niche uses[edit]

In the laboratory, lauric acid is often used to investigate the molar mass of an unknown substance via the freezing-point depression. Lauric acid is convenient because its melting point when pure is relatively high (43.2 °C). Its cryoscopic constant is 3.9 C·kg/mol. By melting lauric acid with the unknown substance, allowing it to cool, and recording the temperature at which the mixture freezes, the molar mass of the unknown compound may be determined.[4]

Potential medicinal properties[edit]

In vitro experiments have suggested that some fatty acids including lauric acid could be a useful component in a treatment for acne, but no clinical trials have yet been conducted to evaluate this potential benefit in humans.[5][6]

Lauric acid increases total serum cholesterol the most of any fatty acid. But most of the increase is attributable to an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (the "good" blood cholesterol). As a result, lauric acid has been characterized as having "a more favorable effect on total:HDL cholesterol than any other fatty acid, either saturated or unsaturated."[7] In general, a lower total/HDL serum cholesterol ratio correlates with a decrease in atherosclerotic risk.[8] Nonetheless, an extensive meta-analysis on foods affecting the total/LDL serum cholesterol ratio found in 2003 that the net effects of lauric acid on coronary artery disease outcomes remained uncertain.[9]


  1. ^ Lide, D. R., ed. (2005). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (86th ed.). Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press. ISBN 0-8493-0486-5. 
  2. ^ a b Beare-Rogers, J.; Dieffenbacher, A.; Holm, J.V. (2001). "Lexicon of lipid nutrition (IUPAC Technical Report)". Pure and Applied Chemistry 73 (4): 685–744. doi:10.1351/pac200173040685. 
  3. ^ a b David J. Anneken, Sabine Both, Ralf Christoph, Georg Fieg, Udo Steinberner, Alfred Westfechtel "Fatty Acids" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2006, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi:10.1002/14356007.a10_245.pub2
  4. ^ "Using Freezing Point Depression to find Molecular Weight". University of California, Irvine. 2010-04-12. 
  5. ^ Nakatsuji, T; Kao, MC; Fang, JY; Zouboulis, CC; Zhang, L; Gallo, RL; Huang, CM (2009). "Antimicrobial Property of Lauric Acid Against Propionibacterium acnes: Its Therapeutic Potential for Inflammatory Acne Vulgaris". The Journal of investigative dermatology 129 (10): 2480–8. doi:10.1038/jid.2009.93. PMC 2772209. PMID 19387482. 
  6. ^ Yang, D; Pornpattananangkul, D; Nakatsuji, T; Chan, M; Carson, D; Huang, CM; Zhang, L (2009). "The Antimicrobial Activity of Liposomal Lauric Acids Against Propionibacterium acnes". Biomaterials 30 (30): 6035–40. doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2009.07.033. PMC 2735618. PMID 19665786. 
  7. ^ Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester ADM, Katan MB (May 2003). "Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials". American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 77 (5): 1146–1155. ISSN 0002-9165. PMID 12716665. 
  8. ^ Thijssen, M.A. and R.P. Mensink. (2005). Fatty Acids and Atherosclerotic Risk. In Arnold von Eckardstein (Ed.) Atherosclerosis: Diet and Drugs. Springer. pp. 171–172. ISBN 978-3-540-22569-0.
  9. ^ Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials

External links[edit]

Appendix: occurrence of lauric acid in various foods[edit]

Further reading[edit]