TESTING OLIVE OILby@scientificamerican


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There is no department in analytical chemistry in which so little success has been attained as in the testing of commercial fats and oils. All methods that have been proposed for distinguishing and recognizing the separate oils, alone or mixed, bear upon them the stamp of uncertainty. The facts observed by J. Koenig, and described by him in his excellent book entitled "Die Menschlichen Nahrungs und Genussmittel" (p. 248), excited great expectations; viz., that the quantity of glycerine in vegetable fats was much less than the amount required to combine with all the fatty acids, and that the quantity of oleic acid in the oils that he examined exhibited essential differences. Koenig himself asserts that the fats have hitherto been too little investigated to found upon it a method for distinguishing them, but that nevertheless it may possibly do good service in some cases. My own estimation of the amount of glycerine in different olive oils, by Koenig's method, has shown, unfortunately, that the percentage may vary from 1.6 to 4.68, according to the origin and quality of the oil. In like manner the estimation of the oleic acid, which was conducted essentially in the manner proposed by Koenig, showed that the amount of oleic acid in different olive oils varied from 45 to 54 per cent. But since cotton seed oil, for example, which is most frequently used to adulterate olive oil, contains 5 per cent. of glycerine, and 59.5 per cent. of oleic acid, it is easy to see an admixture of cotton seed oil cannot be detected by this method, which appeared to be so exact. The method of analysis that I am about to describe is based chiefly upon the determination of the melting point of the fatty acids contained in the oils, and upon their solubility in a mixture of alcohol and acetic acid.
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