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617. Cetaceum.—Spermaceti.

Botanical name:

A peculiar concrete, fatty substance obtained from the head of the sperm whale, Physe'ter macrocepha'lus Linné (class, Mammalia; order, Cetacea).

DESCRIPTION.—A pearly-white, somewhat translucent, waxy mass, but of a somewhat granular texture, fusing at about 45°C, (113°F.). Odor faint and bland, taste mild. Insoluble in water, soluble in 50 parts of boiling alcohol; also in ether, chloroform, and carbon-disulphide. It becomes yellow and rancid on exposure to air.

CONSTITUENTS.—Mainly cetin (cetyl palmitate, C10H33(C16H31O2), with small amounts of other fatty compounds.

USES.—Mainly as a base for cerates and ointments.


A Manual of Organic Materia Medica and Pharmacognosy, 1917, was written by Lucius E. Sayre, B.S. Ph. M.



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