Dodecanoic acid/Lauric acid ΓΈ Calorie Counter
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Dodecanoic acid/Lauric acid

Lauric acid (IUPAC name Dodecanoic acid) is a saturated fatty acid with the molecular formula CH3(CH2)10COOH.

It is the main acid in coconut oil and in palm kernel oil, and is believed to have antimicrobial properties. It is also found in human milk (5.8% of total fat), cows milk (2.2%), and goat milk (4.5%). It is a white, powdery solid with a faint odor of bay oil or soap.

Lauric acid, although slightly irritating to mucous membranes, has a very low toxicity and so is used in many soaps and shampoos. Sodium lauryl sulfate is the most common lauric-acid derived compound used for this purpose. Because lauric acid has a non-polar hydrocarbon tail and a polar carboxylic acid head, it can interact with polar solvents (the most important being water) as well as fats, allowing water to dissolve fats. This accounts for the abilities of shampoos to remove grease from hair.

Another use is to raise metabolism, believed to derive from lauric acid's activation of 20% of thyroidal hormones, otherwise which lay dormant. This is supposed from lauric acid's release of enzymes in the intestinal tract which activate the thyroid. This could account the metabolism-raising properties of coconut oil.

Because lauric acid is inexpensive, has a long shelf-life, and is non-toxic and safe to handle, it is often used in laboratory investigations of melting-point depression. Lauric acid is a solid at room temperature but melts easily in boiling water, so liquid lauric acid can be treated with various solutes and used to determine their molecular masses.


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