Berthelot, and many other chemists, from whose researches it results that glycerin is a trihydric alcohol indicated by the formula C 3 H 5 (OH) 3j the natural fats and oils, and the glycerides generally, being substances of the nature of compound esters formed from glycerin by the replacement of the hydrogen of the OH groups by the radicals of certain acids, called for that reason "fatty acids."
The relationship of these glycerides to glycerin is shown by the series of bodies formed from glycerin by replacement of hydrogen by "stearyl" (C18H350), the radical of stearic acid (C18H350.
Amongst these glycerides may be mentioned the following: Tristearin - C 3 H 5 (O C1 8 H350)3.
Other analogous glycerides are apparently contained in greater or smaller quantity in certain other oils.
Thus in cows' butter, tributyrin, C 3 H 5 (O C 4 H 7 0) 3, and the analogous glycerides of other readily volatile acids closely resembling butyric acid, are present in small quantity; the production of these acids on saponification and distillation with dilute sulphuric acid is utilized as a test of a purity of butter as sold.
Some other glycerides isolated from natural sources are analogous in composition to tristearin, but with this difference, that the three radicals which replace hydrogen in glycerin are not all identical; thus kephalin, myelin and lecithin are glycerides in which two hydrogens are replaced by fatty acid radicals, and the third by a complex phosphoric acid derivative.
These discoveries of Geoffroy and Scheele formed the basis of Chevreul's researches by which he established the constitution of oils and the true nature of soap. In the article Oils it is pointed out that all fatty oils and fats are mixtures of glycerides, that is, of bodies related to the alcohol glycerin C 3H5(OH)3 i and some fatty acid such as palmitic acid (C 16 H 31 0 2)H.
Of the natural fats or glycerides contained in oils the most important in addition to palmitin are stearin and olein, and these it may be sufficient to regard as the principal fatty bodies concerned in soapmaking.
Cod-liver oil contains palmitin, stearin and other more complex glycerides; the "stearine" mentioned above, however, contains very little palmitin and stearin.
They occur as glycerides in rape-seed oil, in the fatty oil of mustard, and in the oil of grape seeds.