Spermaceti is a solid wax obtained from the head and blabber of the sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus Linn. of the family Physeteridae.
Physeter macrocephalus are naturally found in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans chiefly near the coasts of Mozambique, Zanzibar and Ceylon.
Spermaceti occurs as a white, translucent crystalline mass. It possesses little or no odour and taste. It has a specific gravity of 0.95-0.96, acid value of not more than 1, Saponification value of 125-136, Iodine value of 3-5 and melting point of 46-50°C. It is insoluble in water and cold alcohol, but soluble in ether, chloroform and boiling alcohol.
Spermaceti consists principally of cetyl palmitate (C1sH31.COOC16H33) with smaller quantities of cetyl myristate, cetyl laurate and cetyl stearate. It also contains 50-63 percent of wax alcohols.
Spermaceti is used as a base for certain cold-creams and ointments.