Cocamide is a mixture of amides of the fatty acids obtained from coconut oil. As coconut oil contains about 50% of lauric acid, in formulas only the 12-carbon chains tend to be considered. Therefore the formula of cocamide can be written as 3(CH2)10CH2, though the number of carbon atoms in the chains varies (it is always even).

Cocamide is the structural basis of many surfactants. Common are ethanolamines (cocamide MEA, cocamide DEA), or betaine compounds (cocamidopropyl betaine).

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