Generally people all over the world use soap in large quantities. Especially today in the time of the still unexplored Corona virus, when “ordinary soap” is of great use to us. Not so long ago, about 200 years ago, soap was made in home varieties. Soap was rough at the time and was obtained by the same process as it is today: mixing and cooking fats and oils with alkaline substances. Fats can be vegetable or lard and fat as the oil is obtained from plants or fruit seeds. The most used are coconut, palm tree and olive tree. Soda and Potassium Carbonate or potash (German origin: Pottasche or Pott -leaf + Asche-ash)are alkaline substances used in soap. Baking soda is used to make hard laundry soaps, toilet soaps, soap flakes and washing powder. Potash is used for liquid soap and soap paste.
Soap preparation starts with the grease and alkaline substances being cooked in huge casks weighing up to 200 tonnes of mass. This process is called saponification. Salt is added at the end of saponification. Salt separates the soap on top of the cauldron. The brine sinks to the bottom of the cauldron. The process is repeated five to six times, or until the last piece of fat is turned into soap.
The semi-liquid soap is transferred to a machine where it is turned into a smooth mixture by stirring. Various ingredients are added to this mixture to improve the quality of the soap The ingredients that are usually added are color, perfume, water softener or disinfectant. The mixing process should take longer if you want to loosen and light soap. Then, at the end of the saponification process, a special device ejects the air into the soap mass. When the hot soap is soft enough, it is poured into molds. If we want to get powdered soap, flake soap, or bead soap, then we subject the hot soap to a special process. The skill of soap making was especially refined by the French and Italians since the word soap was originally Italian “Savon”. It was named after the Italian city of Savona.
The soap works on the principle of breaking down greasy dirt into small particles that are washed out by water. In this way an emulsion similar to milky fluid is created by which the particles are washed. There is also another explanation that says that soap coats dirt particles and makes them so slippery that they cannot linger on the surface where they were. Water contains surface tension or the water acts as if it were covered with an elastic membrane. This surface tension does not allow water from allthe side of “surrounding” a fraction of the dust on our skin or dirty fabrics. The assumption is that soap dissolved in water reduces the surface tension. This is why the soap solution manages to surround the dirt particles on all sides and separate them. This makes them easier to wash when in contact with water. Soap is often called the detergent from the Latin word “detergare” (clean, wipe). Soaps and special cleaners can therefore be called ‘detergents’.
Modern chemistry is constantly creating new cleaners. So there are soap-free soaps. The main feature of these products is that they reduce the surface tension of water and thoroughly penetrate all kinds of dirty particles on human skin and fabrics. These products are used to make shampoos, toothpastes and washing powder. Today, we use various types of soaps from those containing oil to remove fat to soaps with olive oils and other additives.