The cetyl ester is spermaceti, and the myricyl ester is largely present in beeswax.
The most important whale-oil is sperm or spermaceti oil, yielded by the sperm-whales.
Tallow candles as a substitute for whale-oil had been introduced, and the British market was closed by a duty of £r8 a ton on oil; a bounty offered by the Massachusetts legislature (£5 on white and £ 3 on yellow or brown spermaceti, and £2 on whale-oil per ton) was of slight assistance.
It resembles the sperm-whale in possessing a large store of oil in the upper part of the head, which yields spermaceti when refined; on this account, and also for the sake of the blubber, which supplies an oil almost indistinguishable from sperm-oil, this whale became the object of a regular chase in the latter half of the 19th century.
With lowering of the temperature stearin, accompanied with a small proportion of spermaceti, separates from the oil, and a little under the freezingpoint nearly the whole of these constituents may be crystallized out.
During the life of the whale the contents of these cavities are in a fluid condition, but no sooner is the "head matter" removed than the solid wax spermaceti separates in white crystalline flakes, leaving the oil a clear yellow fluid having a fishy odour.
In the following two tables the "acids" and "alcohols" hitherto identified in waxes are enumerated in a classified order: - Alcohols Spermaceti consists practically of cetyl palmitate, Chinese wax of ceryl palmitate.
The liquid waxes occur in the blubber of the sperm whale, and in the head cavities of those whales which yield spermaceti; this latter is obtained by cooling the crude oil obtained from the head cavities.
Spermaceti is a comparatively unimportant article of commerce; and of Chinese wax small quantities only are imported, as the home consumption takes up the bulk of the wax for the manufacture of candles, polishes and sizes.
Lanolin, linseed oil, wax, spermaceti, &c., also belong to this group. The paraffins, glycerin and vaseline, although not fats, have much the same effect when applied externally, but they are not nutritive.
The oil contained in cells in this cavity, when refined, yields spermaceti, and the thick covering of blubber, which everywhere envelopes the body, produces the valuable sperm-oil of commerce.