PHYSICAL-CHEMICAL DATA AND APPLICATIONS
The ucuuba butter (Virola sebifera) has a high-melting-point (53 °C) and saponification value (220 mg KOH / g oil), which exceeds the rates of beef tallow (with values from 43 to 45 °C and 200 mg KOH / g respectively) makes of ucuuba butter an ideal raw material to replace the animal tallow for the production of fine soaps, and other fatty substances in need of high melting point in the food and pharmaceutical industry. The replacement of animal tallow through vegetable butter of ucuuba solve the problem of contamination of products by the use of animal tallow and even gives to the soaps more consistency and durability. Its employment is perfectly feasible even with higher prices than of animal tallow. The seeds are rich in fat (60 – 70%) having 70% of trimeristine, triglycerides of myristic acid which is an aromatic essential oil having great importance to the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and food industry. Currently, this essential oil is extracted from the nutmeg, which has a concentration of about 80% of this agent.
Commonly, the ucuuba butter is used in the manufacture of candles and as fuel for lighting, spreading an aromatic odor. In-home medicine is especially applied successfully in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis, colic, ulcers, and hemorrhoids. The butter of ucuuba, which is hard and yellow, can be used in combination with other ingredients for the production of candles and plant-based soaps, being a vegetable substitute for paraffin, which is based on petroleum. Soaps and creams based on ucuuba show a proven anti-inflammatory effect with healing, revitalizing, and antiseptic properties. A mature ucuuba tree is sold for USD 5.00, being transformed into broom handles where each unit is sold for USD 0.40 in the fairs and ports of Belém. However, the seeds, which are sold for USD 0,50/kg, can generate an income of USD 18.00 which may reach USD 25.00, assuming productivity of 30 to 50 kg/seeds/year. The fruits are collected at the beaches and streams throughout the Amazon region, stored and sold for being processing into plant-based butter to replace animal tallow for the processing of soap.
The ucuuba tree is native of the floodplains found throughout the Amazon region extending up to states of Maranhão and Pernambuco. The name of the tree means in the indigenous language ucu (grease) and yba (tree), prefers flooded regions and reaches a height of 25 to 35 m. A mature tree can produce between 30 to 50 kg of seeds per year. The seeds are rich in fats (60 – 70%) and performance in oil/tallow can reach 50% per kilo of seed on a dry basis. A plantation with 150 trees per hectare could yield up to 7 tons of seeds, which could be processed in 3500 kilos of fat per hectare. The growth in the field can reach up to 3 m in two years. The wood is of excellent quality and used for particleboard and laminated wood, which endanger intensively the remaining forest resources.