What is Sorbitan Tristearate (E492) in Chocolates? Uses, Safe, Side Effects

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Sorbitan tristearate (abbreviation STS), also called Grade ChemicalSpan 65. Sorbitan tristearate is known to be used in some chocolates as a substitute to trans-fatty acids. It is also a polysorbate which is commonly found in cosmetic preparations and food items as an emulsifier. Trans fat is made by hydrogenation of vegetable oil in the presence of a catalyst. Hydrogenation changes the arrangement of hydrogen atoms in vegetable oils which causes the formation of trans fats and diglycerides. Polysorbate 60 (a) E613 and (b) E472 are usually taken from coconut oil while sorbitan monostearate is produced using a chemical reaction on sorbitan with heat.

What is sorbitan tristearate?

Sorbitan tristearate is an emulsifier and surfactant and it is used in cosmetics as a thickening agent, emulsifier and stabilizer. It is also used as a food additive to thicken, stabilize and emulsify foods.

Sorbitan tristearate is a mixture of sorbitol esters of stearic acid with three molecules of fatty acid attached to each molecule of sorbitol. It has the appearance of white waxy solid at room temperature and melts above 30°C to a clear liquid that does not cloud at 25°C.( 1)

Polyoxyethylene sorbitan tristearate

Polyoxyethylene sorbitan tristearate, also known as POE-20 sorbitan tristearate and Tween 20, is a nonionic surfactant used in cosmetics and personal care products to emulsify and stabilize products.

Polyoxyethylene sorbitan tristearate is a white to cream-colored solid or viscous liquid. It is miscible with water and has low order with other solvents. It has an HLB value of 9.0–10.0 which means that it is highly soluble in water and can be used as a surfactant for cleaning agents or shampoos. Anbu Chem

Polyoxyethylene 20 sorbitan tristearate

Polyoxyethylene 20 sorbitan tristearate is a non-ionic surfactant and emulsifier. It is used in cosmetics, food, and pharmaceuticals to improve the consistency and stability of formulations.

The chemical formula is CH3(CH2CH2O)10CH2COOCH2CH2(CH2)6COOCH3.

Polyoxyethylene 20 sorbitan tristearate is used as an emulsifier in creams and lotions to stabilize the product and prevent the separation of oil and water. It also helps to improve the feel of these products on the skin or lips. Polyoxyethylene 20 sorbitan tristearate is also used in toothpaste, mouthwashes, and other oral care products as an emulsifier that helps suspend ingredients evenly throughout liquid solutions.

Polyethylene glycol sorbitan tristearate

Polyethylene glycol sorbitan tristearate (or PEG-ST, also known as Tween 60), is a synthetic, nonionic surfactant used for its emulsifying properties in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products. It is composed of polyoxyethylene polyoxypropylene block copolymers, with the polyoxypropylene blocks alternating with the polyoxyethylene blocks.

What is sorbitan tristearate made from?

Sorbitan tristearate is a nonionic surfactant made from sorbitol, stearic acid, and oleic acid. It is used as an emulsifying agent in cosmetics and beauty products, as well as in food manufacturing.

It is also used in the production of polyurethane foams to improve their stability and reduce water absorption.

How is sorbitan tristearate made?

Similar to his ingredient is also derived from direct esterification of sorbitol with stearic acid, but it differs from the former because it features three stearic acid molecules attached to the sorbitan molecule.

There is no pure compound in the final product, but a mixture of partial esters of sorbitol and its anhydrides with edible stearic acid.

Stearic acid

First, stearic acid is produced from stearin, which comes from vegetable fat or animal tallow (fat). This reaction occurs when the stearin has been melted and then cooled down again.


Next, sorbitan must be added to the mix. This substance comes from sorbitol, which is a sugar alcohol found in plants and fruits like apples and pears. A chemical reaction takes place between sorbitol and stearic acid to produce sorbitan tristearate powder.

Spray drying

Finally, the resulting powder needs to undergo spray drying in order for it to become usable in products such as lotions and creams.



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What is sorbitan tristearate used for?

A combination of sorbitan tristearate and polysorbates can enhance the stabilization of oil in water (O/W) emulsions. Sorbitan tristearate is used as a water-in oil emulsifier. A variation in the Span/Polysorbate ratio can result in emulsifying systems with different HLB values.

Sorbitan tristearate is an emulsifier and surfactant used in the food industry. It is also used in cosmetics, personal care products, and pharmaceuticals. Sorbitan tristearate uses include:

Sorbitan tristearate in food

Sorbitan tristearate has very good water-holding properties and is used in powdered beverages to improve the mouthfeel of the product. It can also be used to make chocolate smoother and creamier. It’s also used in frozen desserts, chewing gum and bakery products.

It may be found in the following food list:

  • Bakery products
  • Toppings and coatings
  • Fat emulsions (e.g. spreads)
  • Beverage whiteners
  • Desserts
  • Jam, jellies and marmalades
  • Cocoa and chocolate products
  • Candies

Sorbitan tristearate in chocolate

Chocolate formulations often use sorbitan tristearate and lecithin as emulsifiers to retard fat bloom in chocolate. ( 2)

Chocolate contains sorbitan tristearate, which adjusts sugar crystallization and appearance as well as reduces stickiness.

By preventing β’ crystals from converting to β crystals under excessive temperatures, sorbitan tristearate retards fat bloom by creating an emulsifier to prevent β crystals from migrating to the chocolate surface and causing fat bloom.

Additionally, it results in a negative impact on the appearance of the chocolate.

In the making of chocolate, cocoa powder, an important ingredient, forms unstable crystals that are called β’ crystals.

Sorbitan tristearate in cooking oils

Sorbitan tristearate is used in cooking oils and margarines because it helps reduce the amount of saturated fat in the product. In addition, it extends shelf life by preventing rancidity and extending oil stability. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved sorbitan tristearate for use as a food additive in various products including baked goods, chocolate coatings, chewing gum, ice cream, salad dressings, sauces, toppings and fillings.

Sorbitan tristearate in cosmetics

Sorbitan tristearate has many other uses in personal care products like creams, lotions and shampoos. In these products, it helps to make the products feel thicker or creamier on the skin. This makes them more pleasant for consumers to use and spread over their bodies.

There is a possibility that it may be present in the following products:

  • Skin care products
  • Makeup products
  • Moisturizers

Sorbitan tristearate in pharmaceuticals

Sorbitan tristearate is also used in pharmaceuticals because of its ability to thicken liquids or creams into pills or capsules that can be swallowed easily by patients who cannot swallow pills whole.

Is sorbitan tristearate safe to eat?

There are almost no side effects associated with the use of sorbitan tristearate as a food additive. The FDA has approved it as an indirect food additive. EFSA approved its safety for use as a food additive and established a daily intake limit (10 mg/kg BW) for sorbitan esters (E491–495) singly or in combination in 2017. As a direct food additive, it was also designated by JECFA with an acceptable daily intake (ADI) of “0-25 mg/kg body weight” in 1973.

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