Any substance that is made from a mixture of natural oils and fats with an alkali is considered as soap. Soap is a surface-active agent generally used for washing. Washing, because soap is basically ineffective without water. The use of soap (or any natural soap-cleaning agents) has always been associated with man’s inherent instinct to keep his body, his clothes, and various other washable belongings clean.
Soap making started in the 18th century by boiling a crude mixture of animal fat, lye from wood ash, and salt until it became sticky and hard. Later, manufacturers added certain chemicals and permissible additives to improve the quality of soap; some as builders, other as whitening agents. Color (water soluble dyes) and fragrance are also added to make the product, especially toilet soap, more appealing to consumers
Today, soap products are prepared in various types, shapes and sizes. Even the ordinary laundry soap is produced now in the form of bars, cakes, flakes, liquids, gels or pastes.
If you are interested in manufacturing soap products from detergent laundry soap to herbal soap, you should study the technology appropriate to each type. It is also essential that you acquaint yourself with the basic requirements to be met in soap making. For example, an ordinary soap should be made from alkali and fats and oils (fatty acids), a moderate amount of matter insoluble in alcohol, and permissible additives. The finished product should neither bear any objectionable odor nor leave objectionable odor on fabrics and dishes after washing them and rinsing thoroughly with hot water. The soap should form suds or lather in a clean moderate hard water (less than 180m ppm CaCO3) when tested.
There are also a prescribed standard size for bar soaps, i.e., basic size of 120 grams, with multiples in a single bar or four units in a single bar of 480 grams.
In addition to the requirements prescribed in existing laws and regulations, the packing material of soap should be marked with the following information:
- brand name of the product
- quantity of individual bars contained
- net mass (marked net mass is the average net mass of individual bars at time of packing)
- name and address of the manufacturer
- country of origin, e.g., “Made in the Philippines”.
This guide will introduce you to the basic procedures in making various kinds of soap.
Qualities of a Good Soap
A good soap s biodegradable when it does not contain chemicals that cannot be reverted to their natural elements. Neither does it contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment or cause undue destruction to the environment.
- A good soap dissolves easily and remove stains from clothes, human skin or any material being cleaned.
- It dissolves in water and produces enough suds.
- It gives a clear and sparkling kind of cleanliness.
- It gives a pleasant smell.
- A good soap does not leave sticky traces on the clothes or on the skin.
- It has a color that is even and does not streak.
- It disinfects or kills germs.
- It does not damage the fibers of textiles.
Basic Ingredient of Soap
Fat or oil and alkali taken from lye are the basic ingredients of soap. Fat serves as the foundation of the soap and alkali produces the chemical reaction that makes the mixture hard and gives it cleansing ability.
Fat taken from plants like coconut, palm and cottonseed are called soft oils. Animal fat from pigs and cows are called hard fats. Hard fats do not produce many suds, but this type of fat solidifies and hardens easily. The soft and hard oils can be mixed to make the soap produce more suds and solidify with the right hardness. Additives can also be mixed with the soap ingredients. Some of these additives are coco diethanol amide (CDEA), sodium carbonate, naptha, kerosene and rosin. Fragrances or essential oils fro lemon, patchouli, lemon grass, citronella and rose are also usually added.
Some Important Chemical Ingredients (Additives) and their Uses
It is important to familiarized ourselves with the common chemical ingredients used and their uses. These ingredients give the desired quality and feature of the soap. Also, the quantity of these ingredients in making soap, dictates the cost of soap produced.
- Coco Diethanol Amide (CDEA) – foam or sud booster
- Sodium silicate – hardening and leavening agent; prevents separation or deterioration of ingredients in liquid products
- Sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES) – cleansing agent; for thickening effect and a cheaper but effective foamer
- Sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP) – a chemical that gives cleansing power
- Ethylene diamine tetra acetic acid (EDTA) – sequestering agent that makes the ingredients float; used as foaming stabilizer; also used to reduce hardness in water
- Caustic potash (also known as potassium hydroxide) – allows bar soap to harden
- Tergitol – binder used for powdered detergent
- Sodium phosphate – provides the abrasive strength; removes hard water minerals and this increase the effectiveness of detergents; prevents dirt from settling back into clothes during washing
- Sodium chloride or table salt – thickening agent; provides viscosity to the soap
- Methyl and propyl paraben – anti-microbial preservatives
- Triethanol amine (TEA) – emulsifier uesd in facial cleanser
- Caustic soda (also called sodium hydroxide) – neutralizes or adjust the acidity of other ingredients
- Benzalkonium chloride – disinfectant against bacteria, fungi and yeasts
- Carboxyl methy cellulose (CMC) – antiredeposition agent that prevents dirt from settling back into clothes during washing
- Sodium sulfate – provides proper flow or solubility to soap; cleans without leaving residue
- Glycerine – serves as moisturizer in facial cleaner
Commercial lye, potash lye and soda lye – even dampened wood ashes – are EXTREMELY caustic and can cause burns if splashed on the skin. They could cause blindness if spattered in the eye.
Use caution when adding lye to cold water, when stirring lye water and when pouring the liquid soap into moulds. If it is spilled on the skin, wash off immediately with cold water. Wash off any lye or green (uncured) soap spilled on furniture or counter tops.
Though some of the old recipes didn’t say so, always add lye to COLD water, never to hot water, because the chemical action heats the cold water to the boiling point. It also produces harsh fumes which are harmful if breathed deeply. Stand back and avert the head while the lye is dissolving. The use of a draft vent is recommended.
Because of these dangers, it is best to keep small children from the room while soap is being made.
Basic Equipments Needed
A container – A large iron soap kettle or a common wash boiler is great for making soap in large quantities over an open fire. For indoor soap-making in smaller quantities, pots that are granite or porcelain- covered are the best to use because of the corrosive character of some of the recipes’ ingredients. Dispose of soap-making wastes carefully outdoors, not in the drain. Never put lye or fresh soap in aluminum pans.
A Ladle – If an iron kettle is used a long-handled wooden ladle is needed to stir the soap. For indoor soap-making a wooden spoon will do. Once again – don’t use aluminum.
A Grater or Grinder – A kitchen grater or a meat grinder is need to make soap flakes for laundry use or to grind soap for some of the later recipes.
Molds – Flat wooden boxes or wooden tubs to mold the soap while it cooled and hardened. Laid pieces of cloth Over the wood to keep the soap from sticking. You can buy fancy molds in hobby shops, but for home use, discarded plastic bottles work just as well and are much cheaper.
A Plate – Some recipes call for a plate on which to cool a few drops of the liquid from time to lime to test for doneness. A glass plate is preferred because it cooled the liquid faster.
Basic Steps in Soap Making
- Sufficient mixing is important in soap making. Although mixing can be done by hand, the use of an electric stainless steel mixing tank makes work faster and gives better results.
- The basic soap ingredients (fat or oil and alkali) undergo the process of saponification. Here, the elements of the fat or oil called esters, separate and become fatty acids. Fatty acids, in turn, get mixed with the sodium elements of the alkali and this solidifies the soap.
- The soap now undergoes the cold process (the simplest technology applied in soap making). During the cold process, fat and water are mixed thoroughly to prevent the formation of sediments.
- The soap is left to cool and harden. This is called the cooling and solidifying stage.
- The bar soap is sliced and dried to remove moisture.
- The sliced soap is left to age, a process which removes the effects of caustic soda.
- Finally, the soap is packed for marketing and selling.
Part 1 – Introduction, Qualities of Soap, Basic Ingredients and Steps
Part 2 – Making Natural Laundry Bar Soap and Powdered Detergent
Part 3 – Making All-Purpose Liquid Cleaner and Dishwashing Paste
Part 4 – Making Herbal Bath Soap and Aloe Vera Shampoo
Part 5 – Making Liquid Detergent and Liquid Laundry Soap
Part 6 – Making Facial Cleanser
For more info, contact:
DOST Central Office
DOST Bldg. Gen. Santos Ave., Bicutan, Taguig
Telephone: (632) 837-20-71 to 82
Fax: (632) 837-8937
For training and seminars:
G/F TLRC Building
103 J. Abad Santos St.
Little Baguio, San Juan, M.M.
Tel: 727-6205 loc. 202 & 203
source: www.tlrc.gov.ph, photo from millersoap.com