If you’re anything like me, you’re always wondering how things work, and how to make things work better. There’s an exact science to many things in life, but usually not crafts. Soap Making is unique in that it requires that you know quite a bit about science. Who would have ever thought that science and crafts would ever mix?
Soap Making brings together three worlds:
So how exactly do science and soap making come together in a peaceful and harmonious manner? The secret’s in a special and sometimes tough-to-pronounce word called “Saponification”.
Saponification is the hydrolysis of an ester under basic conditions to form an alcohol and the salt of a carboxylic acid (carboxylates). Saponification is commonly used to refer to the reaction of a metallic alkali (base) with a fat or oil to form soap. Saponifiable substances are those that can be converted into soap.
Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is a caustic base. If NaOH is used a hard soap is formed, whereas when potassium hydroxide (KOH) is used, a soft soap is formed. Vegetable oils and animal fats are fatty esters in the form of triglycerides. The alkali breaks the ester bond and releases the fatty acid salt and glycerol. If necessary, soaps may be precipitated by salting it out with saturated sodium chloride. The saponification value is the amount of base required to saponify a fat sample.
In a classic laboratory procedure the triglyceride trimyristin is obtained by extracting nutmeg with diethyl ether. Saponification to the sodium salt of myristic acid takes place with NaOH in water. The acid itself can be obtained by adding dilute hydrochloric acid.
In Other Words…
It’s literally how you make soap, and it’s the science of soap making. The name Saponification literally means “Soap Making”. The root word is “sapo” which is latin for soap. Each carrier oil or base oil is chosen based on which characteristics it imparts on it’s final product of soap.
Saponification Table and Characteristics of Carrier Oils / Base Oils In Soap Making
|oil or fat (acid)||SAP||Hard/Soft||cleansing||fluffy lather||stable lather||skin care|
|sweet almond oil||137.3||soft||good||no||yes||amazing!|
|kukui nut oil||135.5||soft||good||no||yes||great|
(as seen on soap-making-resource.com)
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