The Chemistry behind DFA: Understanding Palm & Palm Kernel Oil-Based Fatty Acids

Distilled Fatty Acids (DFA) derived from palm and palm kernel oils are essential components in a wide range of industrial applications. To truly comprehend their significance, it's essential to delve into the chemical composition of DFA. In this article, we will explore the molecular structure, properties, and uses of different types of fatty acids, including Distilled Palm Fatty Acids and Distilled Topped and Un-Topped Palm Kernel Fatty Acid.

Molecular Structure of DFA

1. Palm Fatty Acid

Palm Fatty Acid is primarily composed of triglycerides. These triglycerides consist of three fatty acid chains attached to a glycerol molecule. The fatty acids present in palm oil are predominantly palmitic acid (C16:0) and oleic acid (C18:1). Palmitic acid, a saturated fatty acid, constitutes a significant portion of palm oil and provides stability to the oil.

2. Palm Kernel Fatty Acid

Palm Kernel Fatty Acid, on the other hand, is derived from palm kernel oil. It contains a different composition of fatty acids compared to palm fatty acid. The primary fatty acid in palm kernel oil is lauric acid (C12:0), a saturated fatty acid known for its cleansing and lathering properties.

Properties of DFA

1. Distilled Palm Fatty Acid

  • Saturated Fatty Acids: Distilled Palm Fatty Acid contains a substantial amount of palmitic acid, which is a saturated fatty acid. Saturated fatty acids contribute to the stability and solidification of the fatty acid.
  • Melting Point: Due to the presence of saturated fatty acids, Distilled Palm Fatty Acid has a higher melting point, making it suitable for applications where solidification at specific temperatures is required.
  • Stability: Its high saturation level provides stability, making it suitable for applications where resistance to oxidation and rancidity is essential.

2. Distilled Topped Palm Kernel Fatty Acid

  • Lauric Acid Content: Distilled Topped Palm Kernel Fatty Acid is rich in lauric acid. Lauric acid is a saturated fatty acid with excellent cleansing properties, making it an ideal choice for soap production.
  • Solid at Room Temperature: Due to its high saturation, this type of DFA remains solid at room temperature, contributing to the hardness and durability of soap products.
  • Foaming and Lathering: Lauric acid is well-known for its ability to produce abundant foam and lather in soaps, making it suitable for personal care and cleaning products.

Distilled Mixed Fatty Acid

Uses of DFA

1. Distilled Palm Fatty Acid

Distilled Palm Fatty Acid is used in various industrial applications, including the production of:

  • Candles: Its high melting point and stability make it an excellent choice for candle production.
  • Lubricants: It is used in the formulation of industrial lubricants.
  • Plasticizers: In the plastics industry, it serves as a plasticizer, enhancing the flexibility of certain plastic materials.
  • Add soap uses:

2. Distilled Topped Palm Kernel Fatty Acid

This type of DFA is primarily employed in the production of:

  • Soap: Due to its exceptional cleansing and lathering properties, it is a key ingredient in soap production, particularly for personal care and cleaning products.
  • Cosmetics: It is used in cosmetics and skincare products to provide foaming and cleansing qualities.
  • Detergents: In the manufacturing of detergents and cleaning agents, it contributes to their cleaning effectiveness.

Distilled Topped Palm Kernel Fatty Acid


Distilled Fatty Acids derived from palm and palm kernel oils are versatile compounds with distinct chemical compositions and properties. The choice between Distilled Palm Fatty Acid and Distilled Topped Palm Kernel Fatty Acid depends on the specific applications, whether it's for soap production, candle making, lubricants, plastics, or other industrial uses. Understanding the molecular structure and properties of these fatty acids is crucial in harnessing their potential in various industries, from personal care to manufacturing.

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