The Science Of Soap
- February 26, 2015 in Science
Froth is now an integral part of our lives: as soaps and gels for body and hair, and to wash clothes, utensils and even cars. Yet, we don’t really pay that much attention to what actually produces the frothy lather and the beautiful smells and the ability to clean.
Here I will explain how traditional soaps are made: the ones that are made by the process of ‘saponification’ – when when oils react with lye (Either Sodium Hydroxide or Potassium hydroxide). A lot of different oils can be used for this process – At Do Bandar, we use a combination of palm, coconut, rice bran and castor – each of which together, give our soap that perfect blend of moisturising, bubbly, creaminess and cleansing ability.
The reaction of lye with oil results in two chemical products: soap and glycerine.
The saponified oil, or soaps, clean dirt and grease by forming ‘micelles’ around the dirt particle. Soap molecules are formed of two oppositely charged ions, a positive sodium/potassium ion and a negative hydrocarbon chain. The negative hydrocarbon chain has a hydrophobic (Water hating) and a hydrophilic (Water loving) part. The hydrophobic part sticks to the dirt while the hydrophilic part is attracted to the water. Several chains, also known as surfactants, attach themselves to the dirt to form the micelle. These micelles form a suspension and the dirt is washed off the skin.
Glycerine – the by-product of saponification, is not just a great moisturising agent. It helps skin retain water, is a great toner, and helps balance oily skin.
Do Bandar soaps do NOT have their natural glycerine removed from them, unlike commercially manufactured soaps. This is mainly done for two reasons:
1. Glycerine is an economically valuable compound!
2. It is a ‘humectant’ – attracts moisture. And commercial soaps don’t want to get all soft and swollen when a customer leaves a soap in a puddle of water.