Cetostearyl Alcohol

Cetostearyl Alcohol

Cetostearyl Alcohol

Cetostearyl alcohol occurs as white or cream-colored unctuous masses, flakes, pellets or granules. It has a faint, characteristic sweet odor. On heating, cetostearyl alcohol melts to a clear, colorless or pale yellow-colored liquid free of suspended matter.

Nonproprietary Names

  • BP: Cetostearyl Alcohol
  • PhEur: Cetostearyl Alcohol
  • USP-NF: Cetostearyl Alcohol

Alcohol cetylicus et stearylicus; cetearyl alcohol; cetyl stearyl alcohol; Crodacol CS90; Lanette O; Speziol C16-18 Pharma; Tego Alkanol 1618; Tego Alkanol 6855.
Chemical Name and CAS Registry Number


Cetostearyl alcohol [67762-27-0] and [8005-44-5]

Empirical Formula and Molecular Weight

Cetostearyl alcohol is a mixture of solid aliphatic alcohols consisting mainly of stearyl (C18H38O) and cetyl (C16H34O) alcohols. The proportion of stearyl to cetyl alcohol varies considerably, but the material usually consists of about 50–70% stearyl alcohol and 20–35% cetyl alcohol, with limits specified in pharmacopeias. The combined stearyl alcohol and cetyl alcohol comprise at least 90% of the material. Small quantities of other alcohols, chiefly myristyl alcohol, make up the remainder of the material.

Functional Category

Emollient; emulsifying agent; viscosity-increasing agent.

Applications in Pharmaceutical Formulation or Technology

Cetostearyl alcohol is used in cosmetics and topical pharmaceutical preparations. In topical pharmaceutical formulations, cetostearyl alcohol will incre ase the viscosity and act as an emulsifier in both water-in-oil and oil-in-water emulsions. Cetostearyl alcohol will stablize an emulsion and also act as a co-emulsifier, thus decreasing the total amount of surfactant required to form a stable emulsion.


Cetostearyl alcohol is also used in the preparation of nonaqueous creams and sticks, and in nonlathering shaving creams. Research articles have been published in which cetostearyl alcohol has been used to control or slow the dissolution rate of tablets or microspheres containing water-soluble drugs, or poorly watersoluble drugs, as well as to stabilize amorphous systems. In combination with other surfactants, cetostearyl alcohol forms emulsions with very complex microstructures. These microstructures can include liquid crystals, lamellar structures, and gel phases.

Method of Manufacture

Cetostearyl alcohol is prepared by the reduction of the appropriate fatty acids from vegetable and animal sources. Cetostearyl alcohol can also be prepared directly from hydrocarbon sources.


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