Stearic Acid

Stearic acid also known as an octadecanoic acid is a saturated fatty acid. It is a solid, waxy acid whose salts and esters are known as stearates. Stearic acid can be found in animal and vegetable oil and is made by boiling animal fat with water under a high pressure and temperature. As a result, hydrolysis of triglycerides happens.
Stearic acid has many uses. Being combined with magnesium, it forms magnesium stearate, an acid found in poultry, meat, fish, eggs, milk products, butter, grains, coconut and cocoa. Stearic acid is used as an ingredient for making plastics, cosmetics, candles, oil pastels, dietary supplements, and for softening rubber. It is an ingredient of different foods and industrial products. Stearic acid can also be used to change the melting temperature or consistency of a product, to prevent oxidation and as a lubricant. Due to the cost effectiveness of this acid it has become an ingredient in many types of products, from soap and candles to margarine and lotion.

Stearic acid is considered to be a not very dangerous ingredient. There are claims that in small amounts stearic acid can cause cancer. There is also information that this product can lead to neurotoxicity, skin irritation and organ toxicity. Another research has shown that stearic acid used for animals demonstrated some effect on their nervous system and brain, respiratory system, skin irritation. These side effects were made at quite low doses. In vitro tests mammalian cells showed positive mutation results. There is concern for possible carcinogenic effect.
However, stearic acid is considered to be safe when used in moderate concentrations which cannot lead to skin irritation, especially when a person has extremely sensitive skin. Magnesium stearate is a combined product of stearic acid made by the hydrogenation of palm or cottonseed oil. The latter has a lot of pesticide residues which can delay the absorption of nutrients in the human intestines. When used in large doses, magnesium stearate can lead to the skin damage and liver toxicity.