Macauba oil

Makauba

Acrocomia aculeata (Jacq.) Lodd. ex Mart, Arecaceae

Pulp oil

INCI: –

Purpose: sunscreen, sensitive skin prone to irritation, anti-age cosmetics

Price: –

The secret of healing: carotenoids, linoleic and oleic acid

Seed oil

INCI: Acrocomia aculeata seed butter

Purpose: lip balms, massage bars, hair care, emulsion systems, soap making

Price: –

The secret of healing: lauric and oleic acid

Macauba is still a completely exotic plant in Croatia, but in Brazil there is a large cosmetic line called- Macauba. This speaks of the versatility of this plant, you will understand why.

Macauba is a palm tree that grows up to 20 meters in height, has leaves 3-4 meters in size, but the fruits are very small, 2.5-5cm. The pulp of the fruit is edible and a source of nutritious carotenoids, while the very small seed (1-2cm) is extremely hard and contains a greasy white inner content that has a mild coconut taste and smell.

In 1979, Michael J. Balick in Economic Botany (33(1), 1979, pp. 11-28) predicts a beautiful future not only for this palm but also for tucuma, murumuru and all those other species that we take for granted today, and at that time had yet to be introduced into everyday practice. If we go even further into the past, the US Department of Agriculture, Division of Botany published in 1921 the publication Foreign Seeds and Plants. There it says that “soaps made from seed fat are just as fine as other soaps, and the oil is better than the olive oil that is on the market there.” Which is incredibly true. Given the huge number of listed species, it took time to arouse interest in this oil.

It should be immediately emphasized that this versatile palm gives oil from two organs:

  • pulp
  • seeds

The difference in their application can best be observed based on the difference in chemical composition [2].

 PulpSeeds
Basic characteristics
Total carotenoids300.01±2.291.82±0.04
Total tocopherols212.95±0.6423.10±0.01
α-tocopherol143.70 ±1.1314.35±0.07
β-tocopherol3.25±0.210.85±0.07
γ-tocopherol57.85±0.35NA
δ-tocopherol8.15±0.077.90±0.00
Fatty acid content g/kg
C4:0 butyric acidtraces9.1±2.2
C6:0 caproic acid2.2±0.12.7±0.2
C8:0 caprylic acid1.1±0.036.7±0.6
C10:0 capric acidtraces27.9±0.4
C12:0 lauric acid3.9±0.2325.8±2.3
C14:0 myristic acid3.8±0.192.1±0.4
C16:0 palmitic acid246.0±0.882.5±0.7
C18:0 stearic acid10.8±0.022.4±2.3
C18:1 oleic acid525.7±1.2362.7±0.2
C18:2 linoleic acid138.0±0.438.2±0.1
C18:3 α-linolenic acid22.6±0.0-

We encounter this phenomenon in tucuma and the comparison of these two species is very instructive.

The pulp oil is rich in carotenoids and there are over 150 times more carotenoids in the pulp oil than the seed oil (butter). The tocopherol content is almost ten times higher and the dominant fatty acid is oleic. Therefore, this oil is primarily used, similar to buriti and tucuma pulp oil, in anti-age cosmetics. It shares the application in sunscreens, along with raspberry, Chilean hazelnut seed oil and shea butter. Also, it is used in after-sun cosmetics, together with marigold macerate. Of course, everywhere else where we use carotenoids, macauba oil will be helpful.

The seed oil contains very little carotenoids and tocopherols and is mostly, like coconut or tucuma seed butter, very rich in lauric acid and an interesting oleic acid content. I didn’t mention the quote from 1921 that the soap of this oil/butter is excellent for nothing. The general philosophy of the soap is to achieve a fine balance between C10-C14 fatty acids which foam nicely but are also more “aggressive” towards the skin, and fatty acids such as oleic and linoleic acid which foam poorly but nourish the skin nicely. This butter is “two in one” due to the fine balance of oleic and lauric acid that we do not find even in tucuma butter. It is ideal for making “ascetic” soaps from just one fat. Like all butters with lauric acid, it absorbs nicely and is great for massages, light balms and as an addition to emulsion systems.

Quality requirement

It is impossible to set quality requirement. In the as yet unpublished data [3] we have information how the content of fatty acids varies:

  • C18:1 oleic acid 35-71%
  • C18:2 linoleic acid 6-35%
  • C16:0 palmitic acid 8-29%

According to [4] the variations of oleic acid can be larger, up to 81% oleic acid.

Useful references
  • Characterization of the pulp and kernel oils from Syagrus oleracea, Syagrus romanzoffiana, and Acrocomia aculeata. Coimbra MC, Jorge N. J Food Sci. 2011 Oct;76(8):C1156-61.
  • Fatty acids and bioactive compounds of the pulps and kernels of Brazilian palm species, guariroba (Syagrus oleraces), jerivá (Syagrus romanzoffiana) and macaúba (Acrocomia aculeata). Coimbra MC, Jorge N. J Sci Food Agric. 2011 Sep 15.
  • Fatty Acid Composition and Oil Yield from Different Genotypes of Macauba (Acrocomia aculeate). R. Antoniassi, A.F. Faria-Machado, H.R. Bizzo, N.T.V. Junqueira 103rd AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo April 29 – May 2 2010
  • Caracterização de frutos e óleo de polpa de macaúba dos biomas Cerrado e Pantanal do estado de Mato Grosso do Sul, Brasil. Gabrielly Ciconini UNIVERSIDADE CATÓLICA DOM BOSCO PROGRAMA DE PÓS-GRADUAÇÃO EM BIOTECNOLOGIA 2102
  • LLE experimental data, thermodynamic modeling and sensitivity analysis in the ethyl biodiesel frommacauba pulp oil settling step. Basso RC, da Silva CA, Sousa Cde O, Meirelles AJ, Batista EA. Bioresour Technol. 2013 Mar;131:468-75

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