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What are Waxes? Structure, Beeswax formation & Function

Definition of Waxes: Waxes are simple lipids made up of fatty acid chains esterified to long-chain alcohols. The alcohol may contain 12-32 C

How is ester bond formed in wax?

How are waxes formed? ester linkage in wax
The OH of -COOH group of fatty acid reacts with OH of alcohol releasing a water molecule and thus forms the ester linkage.
Please watch this 4 minute video for better understanding on ester bond formation in wax

Where are the waxes found in nature?

common waxes found in nature
  • Bees wax
  • The term wax derived from “weax "meaning substance made by bees
  • spermaceti wax in sperm whale
  • Carnauba palm wax: a Brazilian Palm

Waxes: Properties and Function

  • Waxes are simple lipids; hydrophobic and insoluble in water
  • Chemically inert with high melting points

Functions:

  • Bees used to construct combs; for food storing during winter
  • In birds, aquatic plants and animals; offers water proofing
  • Waxes also serve as energy-storage substances in plankton
  • Wax on leaf and fruit surface prevent excess water loss Protects from parasites and insects
  • Spermaceti wax in Sperm whale helps in echolocation and keeping buoyancy
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