What is a soap, and how are they made?

1 Answer
Feb 13, 2017

WE have incomplete information........


A soap is a (alkali metal) salt of a fatty acid, a long chain carboxylic acid. A typical soap is #"sodium stearate"#, #H_3C(CH_2)_16CO_2^(-)Na^+#. Depending on the metal salt, and the length and source of the soap chain, different soaps (and later detergents) can be manufactured. Soaps made from olive oils are particularly fine, and mild.

Of course, during their manufacture, colouring and perfumes may be added. Traditionally, these came from natural sources, i.e. flowers, or herbs, or something that smelled nice. For modern manufacture (which might produce tonnes of soap), the flavouring probably comes from a synthetic perfume.