|What is it?
|Sodium Stearate is saponified stearic acid—the sodium salt of stearic acid.
|Fine white powder
|Approximate Melting Point
|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.
|Excellent thickener/gelling agent.
|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.