spermaceti(redirected from Spermiceti)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.
spermaceti(spûr`məsē`tē), solid waxy substance, white, odorless, and tasteless, separated from the oils obtained from the sperm whale (see sperm oilsperm oil,
liquid wax obtained from the sperm whale, or cachalot, and related marine mammals. It flows readily, is clear, and varies in color from pale yellow to brownish yellow. Chemically it is not a true oil.
..... Click the link for more information. ) and other marine mammals. A mixture of esters of fatty acids, it is composed chiefly of cetyl palmitate. Spermaceti is insoluble in water and does not putrefy. It is used mostly in ointments and cosmetics and in fine candles and was widely employed formerly as the waterproofing medium for oilskins.
the waxy substance obtained by cooling the liquid animal wax contained in a large fibrous sac in the head of the sperm whale. Spermaceti, a complex ester of palmitic acid and cetyl alcohol, crystallizes in the form of white platelets. It is insoluble in water but dissolves readily in ether, acetone, and hot ethanol. It melts at 53°-54°C. The term “spermaceti” was originally used to refer to the sperm of the sperm whale. The substance serves as a sound conductor for the whale. During the 18th century spermaceti was used in the manufacture of candles; today it is used as a lubricant and as a base for the production of creams and ointments.