Stearic Acid: What is it? Where is it located? Elaboration, Characteristics and Uses

It is one of the most common saturated fatty acids found in nature after palmitic acid.

TCC stearic acid, also called octadecanoic acid, is a colorless waxy solid that is nearly insoluble in water. Its chemical formula is CH3 (CH2) 16CO2H.

Its name comes from a Greek word that means tallow. The salts and esters of stearic acid are called stearates.

Stearic acid is found in many animal and vegetable fats and oils, but it is more abundant in animal fat (up to 30%) than vegetable fat (typically <5%).

Stearic acid is prepared by treating these fats and oils with water at high pressure and temperature (above 200 ° C), which leads to the hydrolysis of triglycerides. The resulting mixture is then distilled.

In terms of its biosynthesis, stearic acid is produced from carbohydrates through the fatty acid synthesis machinery through acetyl-CoA.

Where is stearic acid found?

In nature, stearic acid can be found in the fats and oils of plants and animals. Animal fat samples typically consist of 30% stearic acid.

Vegetable oils receive 5% of their volume from the amino acid, except for cocoa butter and shea butter, which contain up to nine times more stearic acid.

Preparation of stearic acid

To separate the substance, the fat or oil that contains the amino acid is heated and pressurized. The material is then placed in boiling water inside a distillation machine.

This device traps the vapor emitted by boiling the fat or oil samples and then conveys it through a series of cooled coils.

The sudden drop in temperature causes stearic acid to condense into a liquid. It can then be cooled further to produce a waxy solid substance.


Stearic acid, also called octadecanoic acid, one of the most common long-chain fatty acids, found in combined form in natural animal and vegetable fats.

Stearic acid is produced primarily as a mixed triglyceride, or fat, with other long-chain acids and as an ester of a fatty alcohol.

It is much more abundant in animal fat than in vegetable fat; lard and tallow often contain up to 30% stearic acid.

The alkaline hydrolysis, or saponification, of fats produces soaps, which are the sodium or potassium salts of fatty acids.

Pure stearic acid is obtained with difficulty from such a mixture by crystallization, vacuum distillation or chromatography of suitable acids or derivatives.

Pure acid undergoes chemical reactions typical of carboxylic acids. It is a colorless waxy solid that is almost insoluble in water.

It’s natural

Because stearic acid is derived from natural sources and is not produced in industrial settings, it is sometimes used as an alternative to chemical ingredients in natural skin care.

Often times, the ingredient is obtained from by-products obtained during the processing of meats, especially pork.

For this reason, it is not used frequently in vegan cosmetics and skincare though; stearic acid from plants is suitable in formulas that do not contain animals.


Commercial stearic acid is a mixture of approximately equal amounts of stearic and palmitic acids and small amounts of oleic acid.

It is used in the manufacture of candles, cosmetics, shaving soaps, lubricants, and pharmaceuticals.

TCC stearic acid is mainly used in the production of:

  • Detergents
  • Soaps
  • Shampoos
  • Shaving cream products.

Stearic acid is used in conjunction with castor oil to prepare fabric-sized fabric softeners. Being inexpensive and chemically benign, stearic acid finds many niche applications.

It is used in candle making and as a hardener in candies when mixed with simple sugar and corn syrup. It is also used to produce dietary supplements.

Stearic acid is a common lubricant during injection molding and pressing of ceramic powders. It is also used as a release mold for foam latex that is baked in stone molds.