Description of a Fatty Acids

Palmitic acid

The fatty acid Palmitic Acid has 16 carbones in a row. All fatty acids have a carboxyl group at one end of the molecule. Having no double bond between his carbon atoms, palmitic Acid is a saturated fatty acid.

In a fatty acid molecule, the carbon atoms that form the spine of the molecule support each two hydrogens atoms. Exceptions are the carbons at the ends of the fatty acid molecule. The carbon at one end of the molecule supports three hydrogens (At the left end in the drawing). The carbon at the other end of the molecule supports an oxygen atom and an oxygen/hydrogen group (At the right end in the drawing)

The term "Fatty" comes to the molecule because the hydrogen cover of the carbon spine of the molecule repels water. The term "acid" is used when one end of the molecule (the right end in the drawing) has what is termed in chemistry a "Carboxyl group" which has acidic properties.

The molecule in the figure above is a molecule of palmitic acid. Palmitic acid is an example of a fatty acid with 16 carbons. Palmitic acid is also defined as a "16-0" fatty acid. In the abbreviation: "16-0", the first digits indicate the number of carbon atoms of the molecule ( 16 in this case), and the second digit indicates the number of double bonds ( none in this cas).

The numeric definition of fatty acids is much easier to remember than their common names or their chemical names. (The chemical name of palmitic acid is "hexadecaenoic acid")

Palmitic acid has not a single bond and therefore it is termed a "Saturated Fatty acid"

Please note that the connection between the carbon of the carboxyl group and an oxygen atom is represented by a an equal sign. This equal sign is the representation of a double bond. The double bond in the carboxyl group does not account for the "saturation" of the molecule