Stearic Acid is a thickener and hardening agent. Ours is derived from rice bran or olive oils, depending on the season, which are much more environmentally friendly sources than palm.
Stearic is completely biodegradable and totally safe for use on people and animals.
Avoiding palm oil? Then you will want to ask your suppliers about stearic acid if you see it in their ingredient lists. Unless they have proof that their stearic acid is derived from other sources, it is almost certain to be palm derived.
Unfortunately, the palm free stuff is much more expensive, so companies are reluctant to use it. Encourage them to seek it out!