How does soap happen...Or everything you wanted to know about the dance of oil and lye molecules but were afraid to ask.
The chemical process is called saponification.
Saponification is defined as: “Usually, a process by which triglycerides are reacted with sodium or potassium hydroxide to produce glycerol and a fatty acid salt, called soap.” Whoa that sounds sciency! Let's break it down into palatable chunks, ok?
Triglycerides are just fats.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/be/Fat_triglyceride_shorthand_formula.PNG (having an issue figuring out how to get images in the text area. Please click on link thx)
Three glycerides holding together some fat chains…that's it. The fats can be anything from the exotic to the mundane. Coconut fats, Olive fats, Corn fats, Kokum fats, Palm Fats, duck fats, bear fats (yes, bear soap), deer fats….the imagination goes wild. All of these fats are and can be used to make soap. The way they interact with the sodium or potassium hydroxide gives the soap its character. That character being bubbly or not bubbly, drying or moisturizing, hard or soft and everything in between. Oils are a little bit acidic rather than alkaline.
The next part of the definition is: “reacted with sodium or potassium hydroxide”. That sounds daunting…but it isn't. First what are these substances? You probably know them better as lye and potash. Let's take a look at those:
This is lye: Na H sodium (Na) Hydroxide (OH)
This is potash: K H potassium (K) Hydroxide (OH)
These guys look harmless enough. When they get together and react it looks like this:
I cant figure out how to get the image in this text box so....just click the link. Its quite a process :)
The oils are consumed and the alkalines are consumed. They then become a third thing: soap.
Looks like an episode of the Kardashians doesn't it? The weak bonds break, and the dance goes on with new partners. Et voila! soap. See what I did there?….soap, Kardashians….soap opera? It's hilarious….you know it.
So why buy this rather than what is available so much cheaper in the store?
Because I rarely use more than 5 ingredients, and all of those ingredients are carefully selected well researched, and readily available. Of late there have been a number of questions about the health benefits/risks of parabens, VOCs, sulfates and the like which are common in commercial soaps. I don't know if they are harmful, I don't care. I do know fewer ingredients have less chance to do harm. I, like you, value a well thought out and clever product. I value my husband saying “Hon, I don't know how you do it, but my skin is clean and squeaky but not dry and flaky”. Imagine a big, wet naked truck drivin’ man saying that about soap….just a sec….that was yummy. Anyway…give it a try. Thanks for Reading…Mamma Moon <3
Welcome to the Mamma Moon Blog.
We discuss Herbs, the Science of Herbs and Aromatherapy. I also draw a Card of the Day.
Grab a cup of tea or wine and enjoy. Feel free to participate. ~Mamma Moon