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cetyl alcohol[′sēd·əl ′al·kə‚hȯl]
CH3(CH2)14CH2OH. Also known as hexadecyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol is a saturated primary aliphatic alcohol. A colorless crystalline compound, it is insoluble in water and soluble in alcohol and ether. It has a melting point of 49.27°C and a boiling point of 344.0°C.
Compounds of cetyl alcohol are encountered in nature; for example, the cetyl alcohol ester of palmitic acid is the major component of spermaceti. In industry, cetyl alcohol is obtained, along with other higher alcohols, by the catalytic addition of carbon monoxide and hydrogen to olefins (hydroformylation or oxo process) with the subsequent reduction of the aldehydes produced to alcohols and by the hydrogenation of palmitic acid. It is used in cosmetics and as a starting material in the production of surfactants.