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Stearic acid

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noun, plural: stearic acids

A eighteen-carbon fatty acid, with the formula: C18H36O2


A fatty acid is a long chain of hydrocarbon. If there are no unsaturated linkages but only single bonds between carbon atoms them the fatty acid is a saturated type. This is in contrast to an unsaturated fatty acid that contains at least one double carbon-carbon bond.

The stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid. It has 18 carbon molecules in a chain connected by single bonds. It is an organic, monobasic acid from hydrocarbons by the equivalent of oxidation of a methyl group to an alcohol, aldehyde, and then acid. It is colorless and odorless. Stearates are salts and esters of stearic acid. Stearin is the triglyceride derived from three stearic acids. The stearic acid is the most common form of fatty acid in animal lipids. It is synthesized through the fatty acid synthesis utilizing carbohydrates and acetyl-CoA.

The stearic acid is used for the production of detergents, soaps, candles, and cosmetics (e.g. shampoo and shaving cream). It is also used in medicine, e.g. as capsule lubricant and as softening and release agent.

IUPAC name:

  • octadecanoic acid

Chemical formula: C14H28O2 See also: