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.