Stearic acid - C18H36O2

What is Stearic acid?

Stearic acid is a long chain saturated fatty acid. It is also called Octadecanoic acid or Stearophanic acid. It is usually found in various plants and animal fats. It is a majorly found as a component of shea butter and cocoa butter. The chemical formula of Stearic acid is C18H36O2.

In its solid form, it appears as a white solid and has a mild pungent, oily odor. It floats on water. It functions as a plant metabolite, an algal metabolite, a Daphnia magna metabolite, and a human metabolite. It is derived from an octadecane.

Properties of Stearic acid – C18H36O2

Stearic acid


Molecular Weight of Stearic acid

284.484 g/mol

Density of of Stearic acid

0.9408 g/cm3

Melting Point of Stearic acid

69.3 °C

Boiling point of Stearic acid

361 °C

Structure of Stearic acid (C18H36O2)

Structure of Stearic acid

Uses of Stearic acid (C18H36O2)

  • Stearic acid is used as a lubricating agent.
  • It is used as a food additive.
  • Used as in the production of detergents.
  • It is widely used in cosmetics, soaps, and shampoos.
  • It is used in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals.
  • It is used in making insulators.
  • Used in food packaging industry.

Production of Stearophanic acid (Stearic acid)

It is produced from oils and fats by the process of saponification of triglycerides by using hot water at about temperature range of 100 degree celsius. The mixture produced is distilled. Commercially obtained octadecanoic acid is usually a mixture of palmitic acid and stearic.

Oils and fats content of Stearophanic acid is rich in animal fat when compared to vegetable fat. Few exceptions are in the foods such as shea butter and cocoa butter, with the stearic acid content of about 28–45%.

It is also produced biosynthetically from carbohydrates through the synthesis of fatty acid machinery.

Effects on Health

This chemical compound is combustible and heats spontaneously. It is generally nontoxic but when inhaled can cause irritation in the throat, nose, and eyes.

Learn more about the physical and chemical properties of Stearic acid (C18H36O2) from the experts at BYJU’S.

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