Caproic acid: structure, properties, and food sources

Caproic acid, a carboxylic acid with a 6 carbon chain, was first isolated from butter by Chevreul M.E. in 1816. It is named from the Latin word caper, meaning goat,
Caproic acid belongs to the group of saturated fatty acids (no double bond, so its shorthand notation is 6:0), and is also a member of the group called short chain fatty acids or SCFA, namely, fatty acids with up to 6 carbon atoms.

Molecular weight: 116.15828 g/mol
Molecular formula: C6H12O2
IUPAC name: hexanoic acid
PubChem: 8892

Skeletal formula of caproic acid, a saturated fatty acid
Caproic Acid

In purified form it is a colorless oily liquid, with melting point at -3 °C (26.6 °F; 270.15 K) and boiling point at 205.8 °C (402.44 °F; 478.95 K) at 760 mmHg.


  • capronic acid
  • hexoic acid
  • n-hexanoic acid
  • butylacetic acid
  • pentiformic acid
  • n-hexylic acid
  • n-hexoic acid
  • 6:0

Food sources of caproic acid

It occurs as glycerol ester in animal fats like those present in butter, cheddar and other cheeses and in coconut oil.
The unpleasant odor reminiscent of goats is due to its free hence also his name.


  1. Akoh C.C. and Min D.B. “Food lipids: chemistry, nutrition, and biotechnology” 3th ed. 2008
  2. Chow Ching K. “Fatty acids in foods and their health implication” 3th ed. 2008

Biochemistry, metabolism, and nutrition