Stearic acid

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White, waxy fatty acid. Stearic acid occurs naturally in animal fats, tallow, and, to a smaller extent, vegetable fats. Lard and tallow can contain up to 30% stearic acid. Stearic acid is a long-chain saturated triglyceride with no double bonds that can be readily saponified with alkaline salts. Most commercial stearic acid products, such as U.S.P. stearic acid, contain are a mixture of 50% stearic acid, 45% palmitic acid, and 5% oleic acid. Stearic acid is used as a lubricatant, softener, and dispersing agent in soaps, candles, lubricants, ointments, cosmetics, rubber, polishes, coatings, and food packaging.

Synonyms and Related Terms

n-octadecanoic acid (IUPAC); Emersol 132; Promulsin; Proviscol Wax. U.S.P. stearic acid; kyselina stearová (Ces.); Stearinsäure (Deut.); ácido esteárico (Esp.); acide stéarique (Fr.); (It.); stearinezuur (Ned.); kwas stearynowy (Pol.);


MFA- Stearic acid.jpg



Chemical structure

Stearic acid.jpg

Other Properties

Almost insoluble in water.

Composition CH3(CH2)16COOH
CAS 57-11-4
Melting Point 69.6
Density 0.8390
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 284.47
Refractive Index 1.4299
Boiling Point 361-383

Hazards and Safety


LINK: International Chemical Safety Card

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 770
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 8959
  • A Glossary of Paper Conservation Terms, Margaret Ellis (ed.), Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York City, 1998
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, Comment: "stearic acid" Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. [Accessed 25 Jan. 2006].
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998

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