Lauric Acid, or dodecanoic acid, is a saturated fatty acid with a 12-carbon atom chain, thus falling into the medium chain fatty acids. It is a white, powdery solid with a faint odor of bay oil or soap.
Lauric acid serves as a component of triglycerides and is comprised of about half of the fatty acid content of coconut milk, laurel oil, coconut oil, and palm kernel oil (not to be mixed up with palm oil). Otherwise, it is fairly uncommon. It is also found in goat's milk (3.1%), human breast milk (6.2% of total fat), and cow's milk (2.9%).
In a research laboratory, Lauric acid is commonly used to investigate the molar mass of an unknown substance by way of the freezing-point depression. Lauric acid is useful because its melting point when pure is rather high (43.8 °C). Its cryoscopic constant is 3.9 °C·kg/mol. When melting lauric acid with the unknown substance, and allowing it to cool, then recording the temperature at which the mixture froze, the molar mass of the unknown compound can be determined.