Caprylic acid: structure, properties, and food sources

Chemical structure of caprylic acid

Caprylic acid (8 carbon atoms), from the Latin word caper, meaning goat, is a saturated fatty acid (no double bond so in shorthand 8:0) member of the sub-group called medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), from 6 to 12 carbon atoms.


Caprylic acid
Fig. 1 – Octanoic Acid

Molecular weight: 144.21144 g/mol
Molecular formula: C8H16O2
IUPAC name: octanoic acid
PubChem: 379

In purified form it is a colorless oily liquid very slightly soluble in water, with melting point at 16.7 °C (62.06 °F; 289.85 K) and boiling point at 239.7 °C (463.46 °F; 512.85 K) at 760 mmHg.

Other names

  • octylic acid
  • n-caprylic acid
  • octoic acid
  • n-octanoic acid
  • n-octylic acid
  • enantic acid
  • octic acid
  • n-octoic acid
  • 1-heptanecarboxylic acid
  • 8:0

Food sources of caprylic acid

It occurs as glycerol ester in animal fats like those present in butter and milk (in the latter from 1 to 4% of the fats) and in coconut and palm oil (6 to 8%).
It has a slightly unpleasant rancid taste in the free form.


Akoh C.C. and Min D.B. “Food lipids: chemistry, nutrition, and biotechnology” 3th ed. 2008

Chow Ching K. “Fatty acids in foods and their health implication” 3th ed. 2008

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