Sodium Stearate

What is it? Sodium Stearate is saponified stearic acid—the sodium salt of stearic acid.
INCI Sodium Stearate
Appearance Fine white powder
Usage rate 0.5–20%
Texture Smooth powder
Scent Nothing noticeable
Approximate Melting Point 245–255° C
pH 10–11
Charge Anionic
Solubility Water, alcohol, cosmetic esters
Why do we use it in formulations? Sodium Stearate has a couple of really neat uses in cosmetics. It functions as a thickener/gelling agent and co-emulsifier. You’ll commonly find it in deodorants, where it is combined with propylene glycol or propanediol to create a solid stick base that actives can be added to.
Do you need it? No, but if you have a formulation that calls for it there’s no substitution.
Refined or unrefined? Sodium stearate only exists as a refined product.
Strengths Excellent thickener/gelling agent.
Weaknesses Harder to source than many ingredients, high pH.
Alternatives & Substitutions I haven’t found any viable alternatives for sodium stearate when used as a gelling agent with propylene glycol/propanediol.

As a thickener, you might try stearic acid, but keep in mind stearic acid is not water-soluble like sodium stearate is.

How to Work with It Slowly sprinkle sodium stearate into the hot aqueous phase to dissolve, whisking to incorporate.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, sodium stearate should last at least two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Sodium stearate + propylene glycol or propanediol creates a very cool semi-translucent gelled solid!
Recommended starter amount 100g (3.5oz) or less.
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Formulations that Use Sodium Stearate


Posted on

July 23, 2019