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.