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Fat molecule

Fat molecule

Three saturated fatty acid molecules linked to a glycerol molecule.



fat molecule, fat, neutral fat, triglyceride, lipid, saturated, ester bond, fatty acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, glycerol, animal-origin, soap, chemistry, biology, biochemistry

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Fat molecule (tristearin) (C₁₇H₃₅COO)₃C₃H₅


Molar mass: 891.45 g/mol

Melting point: 72 °C

Density: 0.862 g/cm³ (at 80 °C)


Fats (or lipids) are triglycerides: esters of three fatty acid units and a glycerol. The fat molecule shown in this animation is tristearin, in which the three fatty acid units are stearic acid molecules. Since stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid, tristearin is solid at room temperature, while vegetable fats contain unsaturated fatty acid, so they are liquid. Tristearin does not dissolve in water, weakly dissolves in cold alcohol and ether, and dissolves well in benzene and chloroform.

Occurrence and production

Tristearin occurs in solid animal fats. It is produced through the hydrolysis of fats followed by esterification.


Formerly tristearin was used for making candles. Fats are used as food, and in the production of dyes, leather care products, cosmetic products, fatty alcohols and fatty acids.



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Triglycerides containing unsaturated fatty acids are liquid at room temperature.

Oleic acid (cis-octadec-9-enoic acid) (C₁₇H₃₃COOH)

An unsaturated monocarboxylic acid. The molecule contains double bond in cis orientation.

Palmitic acid (hexadecanoic acid) (C₁₅H₃₁COOH)

A white, waxy substance, a carboxylic acid of high carbon number.


Fatty acid molecules consist of a polar head and a non-polar tail, therefore they are suitable for removing fat stains.

Stearic acid (octadecanoic acid) (C₁₇H₃₅COOH)

Solid, white substance, a constituent of vegetable oils and animal fats.

Glycerol (propane-1,2,3-triol) (C₃H₈O₃)

A triol that is often used as an ingredient of creams and ointments.

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Transport processes

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