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Journey from saving whales to sustainable chemistry

During the 1970s the plight of sperm whales was brought to international attention through a worldwide anti-whaling campaign. Several centuries of intensive hunting of these gentle mammals brought them to the brink of extinction. Sperm whales were specifically targeted for their spermaceti oil, an excellent lubricant for personal care and industrial applications.

At the height of the ‘Save the Whales’ movement a plant derived wax ester from jojoba was identified as an excellent alternative to sperm whale oil. Interest at federal level gave greater visibility to both this environmental movement and the jojoba plant chemistry that led to the beginning and rise of the jojoba industry. It was recognised that: “[t]he fact that jojoba oil so closely resembles the precious fluids of great free-swimming marine mammals is an elegant proof of the interrelatedness of all life. [That] the jojoba [plant] is a gift from the land to the sea, […] a gift of life for the whales and for the people.”1

Sperm oil and jojoba oil characteristics and origins

Sperm oil is primarily composed of wax esters similar to those found in jojoba oil (Table 1). Differences in processing of the sperm oil source, the spermaceti and the blubber, result in some fractions containing variable levels of triglyceride esters. It is important to remember this fact when comparing published data on physical properties of both sperm oil and jojoba oil.

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Upcoming Events

in-cosmetics Formulation Summit

Leonardo Royal Hotel, London
25 - 26 October

SEPAWA 2022

Estrel Congress Center, Berlin
26 - 28 October

in-cosmetics Asia 2022

BITEC Bangkok, Thailand
1 - 3 November 2022

Plastic Waste Free World Europe 2022

Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany
09-10 Nov 2022

The Greener Manufacturing Show Europe 2022

Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany
09-10 Nov 2022

SCS Formulate 2022

Coventry Building Society Arena
15 - 16 November 2022

Access the latest issue of Personal Care Magazine on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Personal Care Magazine app from your device's App store

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