Zinc Stearate Manufacturing Process

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In cosmetics, zinc stearate is used as a lubricant to improve the feel of powder cosmetics, such as eye lines and mascaras. It can also be found in makeup products such as foundations and lipsticks. The manufacturing process of this product involves reacting stearic acid with zinc hydroxide in an aqueous solution under stirring and heating. The resulting precipitate is then rinsed, filtered and dried to form the final product.

Zinc stearate is a solid, odorless compound with high melting point. It is combustible and a fire hazard when exposed to heat or flame. It is also very soluble in water. Acute toxicity studies with fish (Daphnia magna) have shown no effects at nominal concentrations up to three orders of magnitude higher than its water solubility limit. The chemical is a skin irritant, but does not cause acute systemic effects.

Laboratory animals exposed to zinc stearate ingestion experienced moderate acute gastrointestinal irritation, but no adverse effects were observed on their general growth or development. When 50 mg of the substance suspended in 1 mL of water was injected into the lungs of six rats and into the peritoneum of six guinea pigs, all died as a result of severe pulmonary edema. The compound also caused granulomata of the peritoneum in guinea pigs. These animals died within 24 hours of injection, but no permanent fibrosis was evident. Metallic soaps are referred to as driers because they accelerate the oxidation reaction that is associated with the drying of oils. Cobalt, manganese, iron, lead and calcium soaps are known as primary driers, while zinc and ziroconium soaps do not promote drying on their own and are considered auxilliary driers.