What is the chemical formula of ghee (Indian butter)? Also, name the elements present and state the number of their atoms.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ There is no formula of "ghee". It is a complex mixture. It should not be called Indian butter because "ghee" itself is an accepted word in English dictionaries. $\endgroup$
    – M. Farooq
    Oct 5 '20 at 3:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "The physical and chemical characteristics of ghee extracted from cow's and sheep's milk were studied. Iodine number was lower, but saponification number was higher in sheep's ghee. 1,2-Diacylglycerides were absent in sheep ghee. The range of vitamin A was 315–376 μg/100 g and of cholesterol 252–284 mg/100 g. Fatty acid composition showed a relatively high degree of saturation (53.9–66.8%) with C16:0 (31.7–38.3%) and C18:1 (21.6–33.7) being the predominant saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, respectively." sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0308814693900073 $\endgroup$
    – M. Farooq
    Oct 5 '20 at 3:44
  • $\begingroup$ This is a site on chemistry. So all commenters and answering users should tell OP that while the composition of ghee can be discussed, his/her question is not acceptable as it lacks basic knowledge / preparation of the question. $\endgroup$
    – Alchimista
    Oct 6 '20 at 12:15

The composition of ghee varies depending on the animal whose milk has been used. Ghee is a complex lipid of glycerides (majorly triglycerides), free fatty acids, phospholipids, sterols, sterol esters, fat soluble vitamins, carbonyls, hydrocarbons and carotenoids (only in ghee derived from cow milk). enter image description here

Milk fat contains at least 500 fatty acids and fatty acid derivatives with 4 – 20 or more carbon atoms in their chain. The fatty acid may saturated or unsaturated and usually contains an even number of carbon atoms. Following table shows detailed composition of buffalo milk and cow milk fatty acid composition:

enter image description here

The vitamin A content ranges from 315 to 375 international units per 100 grams. The saturated fatty acid profile is 53.9 to 66.8 percent, the unsaturated fatty acid profile is 22.8 to 38.0 and the other fatty acids profile is 3.5 to 10.4*. Cholesterol amounts ranges from 252 to 284 mg/100 grams.

*Vaccenic acid (2.18%) and conjugated linoleic acid (0.77% in buffalo and 1% in cow ghee) are the other main ruminant trans fatty acids.


  1. http://ecoursesonline.iasri.res.in/mod/page/view.php?id=5793 (table sources)
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghee
  3. Parmar, Nirav & Mehta, Bhavbhuti & Aparnathi, Kishorkumar. (2018). Composition of ghee prepared from camel, cow and buffalo milk. Journal of Camel Practice and Research. 25. 321. 10.5958/2277-8934.2018.00046.2.
  4. Composition of ghee (Samn Barri's) from cow's and sheep's milk AbdulrhmanAl-Khalifah, Hassan Al-Kahtani, Food Chemistry Volume 46, Issue 4, 1993, Pages 373-375, DOI: 10.1016/0308-8146(93)90007-3
  • $\begingroup$ What other fatty acid means, if it is neither saturated neither unsaturated ? Unless it means saturated or unsaturated fatty acid not particularly listed in those 2 profiles. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Oct 5 '20 at 5:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Poutnik The 3rd para is from Wikipedia article and while it was not explicitly mentioned what were the other fatty acids, I believe they are long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. $\endgroup$ Oct 5 '20 at 6:17

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