Q:

Are both ends of a fatty acid polar?

A:

Quick Answer

Only one end of a fatty acid is polar. A fatty acid consists of a polar carboxylic head group and a nonpolar hydrocarbon tail. Most fatty acids have an overall nonpolar character due to the long hydrocarbon chain; however, fatty acids with shorter hydrocarbon chains have an overall polar character.

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Full Answer

The hydrocarbon chain length varies from 10 to 30 carbons, with the most common being 12 to 18 carbons in length. A fatty acid can be either saturated or unsaturated. A saturated fatty acid contains only single bonds; an unsaturated fatty acid contains one or more double bonds. Saturated fatty acids have a higher melting point than unsaturated fatty acids.

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