Cetyl alcohol or known as 1-hexadecanol or n-hexadecyl alcohol, is a fatty alcohol that can be derived from coconut oil and palm oil. It is a synthetic, solid, fatty alcohol, and nonionic surfactant that has 16 carbon atoms and a very hydrophobic molecule. Cetyl alcohol, though is not soluble in water, it is soluble in alcohol and oils. It is made by the chemical reduction of palmitic acid.
Cetyl alcohol is produced by reducing ethyl palmitate, the waxy ester of palmitic acid, with alcohol and sodium metal under low pH. Cetyl alcohol can also be produced under acidic conditions with lithium aluminum hydride as a catalyst or by the hydrogenation and esterification of fatty acid, next the resulting product then being purified by using the method of crystallization and distillation.
Cetyl alcohol is widely used in skin lotions and creams. It is used as an emollient to prevent drying and chapping of the skin because of its water-binding property. Since the final product of cetyl alcohol can melt under a higher temperature than the human body, it is useful to use for makeup that is warmed by the skin.
Cetyl alcohol is used in textile soaps. It is used as emulsifying and stiffening agents.
Cetyl alcohol can also be used in food and as a multipurpose food additive, used as a flavoring agent or in food decorations with the condition of total alcohol contained is not less than 98% and the straight chain alcohol contained is not less than 94%.
Personal Care Industries
Cetyl alcohol is also used in shampoos. It is used as an opacifier, emulsifier, and thickener that changes the thickness of the liquid and enhances and stabilizes the foaming power.