Interesterification of edible oils

  • H. H. Hustedt
Technical Session IV—Fats and Oils Modification


Types of interesterification discussed are (a) interchange between a fat and free fatty acids, in which the most important reaction is the introduction of acids of low mol wt into a fat with higher fatty acids; (b) interchange between a fat and an alcohol, e.g., with glycerol, in order to produce emulsifiers like monoglycerides; (c) rearrangement of fatty acid radicals in triglycerides, the so-called transesterification which in recent years has taken on the same importance as hydrogenation or fractionation. In natural fats, the fatty acid radicals are not usually randomly distributed but become so by rearrangement; the distinctive physical properties of natural fats and oils can be changed within limits by this transesterification. Well-known examples are cocoa butter, palm oil, and lard. More important is the transesterification of a mixture of different fats and oils; e.g., the combination of hydrogenation and interesterification allows the production of a solid fat with high linoleic acid content. The composition of glycerides after random interesterification can be calculated by formulas.

Distinct from random is such directed interesterification. This is done by working at low temperatures that glycerides with higher melting point crystallize from the reaction mixture. Directed interesterification can be combined with fractionation, for instance, to get a higher yield of liquid fraction from palm oil than is obtained by fractionation alone.

The transesterification process can be performed in a batch or continuously. A small amount of metallic sodium or sodium ethylate is used as catalyst, which is destroyed by water or acid and removed after the reaction.


Glyceride Cocoa Butter Unsaturated Acid Sodium Methylate Sodium Ethylate 
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Copyright information

© The American Oil Chemists’ Society 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. H. Hustedt
    • 1
  1. 1.Noblee & Thörl GmbHHamburg-HarburgWest Germany

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