Myristic Acid vs. Stearic Acid

What's the Difference?

Myristic acid and stearic acid are both saturated fatty acids commonly found in various natural sources. However, they differ in terms of their chemical structure and physical properties. Myristic acid has a shorter carbon chain length with 14 carbon atoms, while stearic acid has a longer chain length with 18 carbon atoms. This difference in chain length affects their melting points, with myristic acid having a lower melting point compared to stearic acid. Additionally, stearic acid is more commonly found in animal fats and vegetable oils, while myristic acid is predominantly found in coconut oil and palm kernel oil. Both acids have various applications in the food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries due to their emollient and moisturizing properties.


AttributeMyristic AcidStearic Acid
Chemical FormulaC14H28O2C18H36O2
Common NameMyristic AcidStearic Acid
Systematic NameTetradecanoic AcidOctadecanoic Acid
StructureMyristic Acid StructureStearic Acid Structure
Molecular Weight228.38 g/mol284.48 g/mol
Melting Point54.4°C69.6°C
Boiling Point270°C361°C
SolubilityInsoluble in waterInsoluble in water
SourceFound in various plant and animal fatsFound in various plant and animal fats

Further Detail


Myristic acid and stearic acid are both fatty acids that play important roles in various industries and biological processes. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct characteristics that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the attributes of myristic acid and stearic acid, including their chemical structures, sources, physical properties, uses, and potential health effects.

Chemical Structures

Myristic acid, also known as tetradecanoic acid, is a saturated fatty acid with a 14-carbon chain (C14:0). Its chemical formula is CH3(CH2)12COOH. On the other hand, stearic acid, also called octadecanoic acid, is a saturated fatty acid with an 18-carbon chain (C18:0). Its chemical formula is CH3(CH2)16COOH. Both fatty acids belong to the carboxylic acid group and have a carboxyl group (-COOH) at one end of their hydrocarbon chains.


Myristic acid is naturally found in various plant and animal sources. It is particularly abundant in nutmeg, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, and butterfat. On the other hand, stearic acid is present in many animal and vegetable fats and oils. It can be found in beef, pork, chicken, cocoa butter, and shea butter, among others. Both myristic acid and stearic acid can be obtained through extraction or synthesis for commercial purposes.

Physical Properties

Myristic acid appears as a white crystalline solid at room temperature. It has a melting point of around 54-55°C (129-131°F) and a boiling point of approximately 250°C (482°F). The compound is insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents like ethanol and ether. Stearic acid, on the other hand, is also a white crystalline solid with a melting point of about 69-70°C (156-158°F) and a boiling point of around 361°C (682°F). It is insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents such as ethanol and benzene.


Myristic acid finds applications in various industries. It is commonly used in the production of cosmetics, soaps, and detergents due to its ability to create stable foam and provide a creamy texture. It is also utilized as a flavoring agent in food products, particularly in baked goods, confectioneries, and beverages. Additionally, myristic acid serves as a precursor for the synthesis of other chemicals, such as fragrances and lubricants.

Stearic acid has a wide range of uses as well. It is a key ingredient in the manufacturing of candles, plastics, rubber, and textiles. Due to its ability to solidify and stabilize emulsions, stearic acid is often employed in the production of creams, lotions, and ointments. It is also utilized as a lubricant in various industries, including metalworking and pharmaceuticals. Furthermore, stearic acid is commonly used as a food additive, providing texture and acting as a binder in products like margarine, chocolate, and chewing gum.

Potential Health Effects

While myristic acid and stearic acid are generally considered safe for consumption in moderate amounts, excessive intake may have potential health effects. Myristic acid has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases when consumed in large quantities. However, it is important to note that the negative effects are primarily linked to the consumption of foods high in myristic acid, rather than the isolated compound itself.

Stearic acid, on the other hand, has been found to have a neutral effect on blood cholesterol levels. It is considered a saturated fat that does not raise LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, often referred to as "bad" cholesterol. In fact, stearic acid can be converted into oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may have potential health benefits, including a positive impact on cardiovascular health.


In conclusion, myristic acid and stearic acid are two fatty acids with distinct attributes. Myristic acid has a 14-carbon chain, while stearic acid has an 18-carbon chain. They can be found in various natural sources and have different physical properties. Myristic acid is commonly used in cosmetics and food products, while stearic acid finds applications in industries such as candles, plastics, and food additives. While myristic acid may have potential health risks when consumed in excess, stearic acid has a neutral effect on blood cholesterol levels. Understanding the characteristics and uses of these fatty acids can help in making informed decisions regarding their applications and potential health implications.

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