C16:0 (Lipid numbers), palmic acid
|Molar mass||256.42 g·mol−1|
|Density||0.852 g/cm3 (25 °C)
0.8527 g/cm3 (62 °C)
|Melting point||62.9 °C (145.2 °F; 336.0 K) |
|Boiling point||351–352 °C (664–666 °F; 624–625 K) 
271.5 °C (520.7 °F; 544.6 K)
at 100 mmHg
215 °C (419 °F; 488 K)
at 15 mmHg
|4.6 mg/L (0 °C)
7.19 mg/L (20 °C)
8.26 mg/L (30 °C)
9.9 mg/L (45 °C)
11.8 mg/L (60 °C)
|Solubility||soluble in amyl acetate, alcohol, CCl4, C6H6
very soluble in CHCl3
|Solubility in ethanol||2 g/100 mL (0 °C)
2.8 g/100 mL (10 °C)
9.2 g/100 mL (20 °C)
31.9 g/100 mL (40 °C)
|Solubility in methyl acetate||7.81 g/100 g|
|Solubility in ethyl acetate||10.7 g/100 g|
|Vapor pressure||0.051 mPa (25 °C)
1.08 kPa (200 °C)
28.06 kPa (300 °C)
Refractive index (nD)
|1.43 (70 °C)|
Std enthalpy of
Std enthalpy of
|GHS signal word||Warning|
|Flash point||206 °C (403 °F; 479 K) |
Except where noted otherwise, data is given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
|what is: / ?)(|
Palmitic acid, or hexadecanoic acid in IUPAC nomenclature, is the most common fatty acid (saturated) found in animals, plants and microorganisms. Its chemical formula is CH3(CH2)14COOH. As its name indicates, it is a major component of the oil from palm trees (palm oil), but can also be found in meats, cheeses, butter, and dairy products. Palmitate is a term for the salts and esters of palmitic acid. The palmitate anion is the observed form of palmitic acid at physiologic pH (7.4).
Occurrence and production
Palmitic acid mainly occurs as its ester in triglycerides (fats), especially palm oil but also tallow. The cetyl ester of palmitic acid (cetyl palmitate) occurs in spermaceti. It was discovered by Edmond Frémy in 1840, in saponified palm oil. Butter, cheese, milk and meat also contain this fatty acid.
Palmitic acid is prepared by treating fats and oils with water at a high pressure and temperature (above 200 °C or 390 °F), leading to the hydrolysis of triglycerides. The resulting mixture is then distilled.
Excess carbohydrates in the body are converted to palmitic acid. Palmitic acid is the first fatty acid produced during fatty acid synthesis and the precursor to longer fatty acids. As a consequence, palmitic acid is a major body component of animals. In humans, one analysis found it to comprise 21–30% (molar) of human depot fat, and it is a major, but highly variable, lipid component of human breast milk. Palmitate negatively feeds back on acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC), which is responsible for converting acetyl-CoA to malonyl-CoA, which in turn is used to add to the growing acyl chain, thus preventing further palmitate generation. In biology, some proteins are modified by the addition of a palmitoyl group in a process known as palmitoylation. Palmitoylation is important for membrane localisation of many proteins.
Palmitic acid is used to produce soaps, cosmetics, and release agents. These applications utilize sodium palmitate, which is commonly obtained by saponification of palm oil. To this end, palm oil, rendered from palm tree (species Elaeis Guineensis) , is treated with sodium hydroxide (in the form of caustic soda or lye), which causes hydrolysis of the ester groups. This procedure affords glycerol and sodium palmitate.
Because it is inexpensive and adds texture to processed foods (convenience food), palmitic acid and its sodium salt find wide use including foodstuffs. Sodium palmitate is permitted as a natural additive in organic products. The aluminium salt is used as a thickening agent of napalm used in military actions.
Recently, a long-acting antipsychotic medication, paliperidone palmitate (marketed as INVEGA Sustenna), used in the treatment of schizophrenia, has been synthesized using the oily palmitate ester as a long-acting release carrier medium when injected intramuscularly. The underlying method of drug delivery is similar to that used with decanoic acid to deliver long-acting depot medication, in particular, neuroleptics such as haloperidol decanoate.
According to the World Health Organization, evidence is "convincing" that consumption of palmitic acid increases risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Retinyl palmitate is an antioxidant and a source of vitamin A added to low fat milk to replace the vitamin content lost through the removal of milk fat. Palmitate is attached to the alcohol form of vitamin A, retinol, to make vitamin A stable in milk.
Rats fed a diet of 20% palmitic acid and 80% carbohydrate for extended periods showed alterations in central nervous system control of insulin secretion, and suppression of the body's natural appetite-suppressing signals from leptin and insulin (the key hormones involved in weight regulation).
- Merck Index, 12th Edition, 7128.
- Sigma-Aldrich Co., Palmitic acid. Retrieved on 2014-06-02.
- CID 985 from PubChem
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- Palmitic acid at Inchem.org
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- Frémy, E. (1842). "Memoire sur les produits de la saponification de l’huile de palme". Journal de Pharmacie et de Chimie XII: 757.
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- Lipids of human milk and infant formulas: a review
- Fatty acid biosynthesis - Reference pathway
- US Soil Association standard 50.5.3
- Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, WHO Technical Report Series 916, Report of a Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation, World Health Organization, Geneva, 2003, p. 88 (Table 10)
- Benoit SC, Kemp CJ, Elias CF, Abplanalp W, Herman JP, Migrenne S, Lefevre AL, Cruciani-Guglielmacci C, Magnan C, Yu F, Niswender K, Irani BG, Holland WL, Clegg DJ (2009). "Palmitic acid mediates hypothalamic insulin resistance by altering PKC-θ subcellular localization in rodents". Journal of Clinical Investigation 119 (9): 2577–2587. doi:10.1172/JCI36714. PMID 19726875.
Media related to Palmitic acid at Wikimedia Commons