Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society

, Volume 50, Issue 6, pp 202-206

First online:

Sperm whale oil analysis by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry

  • G. F. SpencerAffiliated withNorthern Regional Research Laboratory
  • , W. H. TallentAffiliated withNorthern Regional Research Laboratory

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Gas liquid chromatography of winterized sperm oil showed that its wax esters with even carbon numbers range from C24 to C42 and are present in quantities resembling a normal distribution curve with C34 as the mean. Between these even-numbered wax esters, ones with odd chain lengths were eluted. Triglycerides, similarly present in a normal distribution pattern, ranged from C42 to C58 and also included traces of odd chain species. The component acids and alcohols were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and double bond positions in the monoenoid components were established. Branched chain and odd chain constituents, both saturated and unsaturated, were detected among both alcohols and acids. These moieties, when combined with those having even chains, are responsible for the wax esters and triglycerides with odd carbon numbers.