A Publication
of Reliable Methods
for the Preparation
of Organic Compounds
Annual Volume
Org. Synth. 1926, 6, 66
DOI: 10.15227/orgsyn.006.0066
Submitted by G. D. Beal
Checked by H. T. Clarke and E. R. Taylor.
1. Procedure
In a 2-l. round-bottomed flask are placed 100 g. (0.14 mole) of pure (Note 1) trimyristin (p. 538) and 200 cc. of 10 per cent sodium hydroxide solution. The mixture is heated on a steam bath for two hours, with frequent shaking or stirring until the trimyristin has become emulsified. It is then diluted with 300 cc. of water and the heating is continued for another one-half hour, by which time the solution should be almost clear, indicating complete saponification. The solution is now poured with stirring into a hot solution of 650 cc. of water and 100 cc. of 20 per cent hydrochloric acid. The free acid which separates is not entirely clear, owing to the presence of unchanged sodium salt (Note 2). A gentle current of steam is passed into the hot mixture until the oily layer is transparent; this requires about fifteen minutes. The acid is allowed to cool and solidify; it is removed and freed of small quantities of salt and water by filtering through paper in a steam-jacketed funnel. The yield is 84–90 g. (89–95 per cent of the theoretical amount) of a colorless product (Note 3) which melts at 52–53° (Note 4).
2. Notes
1. If the trimyristin is not pure white and free of nutmeg oil, it will be necessary to purify the resulting acid by distillation under reduced pressure. It boils at 250°/100 mm. and 195°/15 mm.
2. As much as 15–20 g. of sodium salt may be found in the acid at this point if care is not taken to insure its decomposition. A corresponding amount of 35 per cent hydrochloric acid may be used. An excess of acid does no harm.
3. If desired, the acid may be recrystallized from petroleum ether (b.p., 40–60°) (F. H. Carr, private communication).
4. The melting point is not appreciably raised by recrystallization from petroleum ether. The highest melting point recorded in the literature is 53.8°.
3. Discussion
Myristic acid can be obtained by the hydrolysis of trimyristin contained in coconut oil,1 nutmegs2 (p. 538), or the seeds of Virola venezuelensis,3 and by the hydrolysis of methyl myristate obtained from bayberry wax.4
This preparation is referenced from:

References and Notes
  1. Gorgey, Ann. 66, 314 (1848).
  2. Krafft, Ber. 12, 1668 (1879); Verkade and Coops, Rec. trav. chim. 46, 528 (1927).
  3. Thoms and Mannich, Ber. pharm. Ges. 11, 263 (1901) [Chem. Zentr. II, 189 (1901)].
  4. Org. Syn. 20, 67.

Chemical Abstracts Nomenclature (Collective Index Number);
(Registry Number)

petroleum ether

hydrochloric acid (7647-01-0)

sodium hydroxide (1310-73-2)

Myristic acid (544-63-8)

trimyristin (555-45-3)

Methyl myristate (124-10-7)