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What is Saponification? The Most Natural Way to Make Soap

What is Saponification? How Soap is Made in the Most Natural Way
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In the ancient process of soapmaking you saponify the oils into soap. However, what is saponification anyway and how does it work?

What is Saponification? How Soap is Made in the Most Natural Way
What is Saponification? How Soap is Made in the Most Natural Way

Saponification

Soap manufacturing traces back thousands of years. Archaeologists discovered records of soap making inscribed on clay tablets in Mesopotamia from 3000 BC and there is evidence of soap use in both early Roman and Egyptian civilization. By the 1600s in Europe, with the finding of Louis Pasteur, there was a strong movement toward good hygiene. Doctors began prescribing the use of soap. Today more than ever, and especially since recent events, we know the importance of washing with soap.

No matter how you make soap, whether in a large kettle with heat, or using the cold-process method as we do here at Capulet Soaps, all soaps share a few common traits. Soap is a salt, we create it through a chemical reaction that occurs when we mix a fatty acid and a base. This reaction is saponification.

For today’s purposes, we’re going to explain Saponification in its simplest form and explain the basics of how we make Capult’s soap.

See Also: Is Soap a Surfactant? We look at the Facts here

What Is Saponification: Key Points

  • Saponification is the process through which fats, oils or lipids are converted into soap.
  • The right proportions of base to acid is the key to proper saponification.
  • Also, the SAP value indicates the amount of sodium hydroxide needed to completely saponify an oil or fat.
  • Saponifiying oils into soap is a multi-step process.

What Is Saponification?

Saponification is a process that converts fats, oils, or lipids (the acid) into soap by combining them with Sodium Hydroxide (the base). The chemical reaction relies on friction and self-generated heat. Through saponification, we neutralze the acid and the base. One of our favorite soap formulas is as follows: Combine organic olive oil, organic coconut oil, and organic shea butter with sodium hydroxide(lye).

Knowing the proportions of acid to base needed for saponification is the key. We determine this by knowing the SAP value of each oil (acid) in the formula (there are charts for this). The SAP value is the amount of sodium hydroxide you need to completely saponify a particular oil. Each type of oil whether vegetable or animal has a different SAP value based on its molecular structure.

How it Works

Once you combine the proper amount of acid and base, the chemical reaction begins. This is not where our soapmaking ends. As we stir, the oils go from translucent to opaque. Now, we look for a trace. A trace is a telltale sign that our cold-process soap has reached a point in saponification where we can start to incorporate additives. We know our soap has trace when the spatula leaves a noticeable trail when drizzling in the soap.

See Also: How Is Soap Made? This is the Unsurpassed Guide

How it Works Continued

Capulet’s then adds certified organic essential oils to create skin-nourishing soap with aroma-therapeutic properties. This is also when we add any botanicals, like organic rose powder or cinnamon powder. Saponification is now well underway! Also, we pour our soap into molds and add botanical dressings.

We put the molds in a draft free place and keep them warm for a period of time. Also, this is to facilitate the continuing saponification. The molds will continue to generate heat from the chemical reaction for a period of hours. Once cooled, the soap will be ready to unmold and cut. Finally, saponification is virtually complete at this point. We then leave the soap to cure and harden for a period of time before it is ready for use.

In modern days, and especially here at Capulet’s Soap, we take great care in creating beautiful artisan soaps with skin nourishing ingredients, but it seems likely that the earliest form of soap was accidentally created. The legend says there was temple in Rome on a hillside above a river. The people in the city found a foaming substance seeping into river below the temple. It seems that rendered fats (acid) from roasted animal sacrifices would combine with ash (base) from the fire and be washed by rain down the hillside. Women noticed how clean their clothes became when washed in this foamy substance.

See Also: How to make soap you love: the easiest ways in the world

Final Thoughts

Saponification is when an oil is rendered into soap using lye. Finally, the natural soap making process is the safest for our skin. That’s why we use it here at Capulet’s.

Our mission at Capulet’s is to make soap as clean and natural as possible. Our formulas only include certified organic ingredients, and as a result, we’re able to create beautiful soap without any harsh chemicals, manufactured preservatives, or synthetic fragrances.

Pick up one of our bars today!

What Is Saponification?: Key Takeaways

  • Saponification is the process through which fats, oils or lipids are converted into soap.
  • The right proportions of base to acid is the key to proper saponification.
  • The SAP value indicates the amount of sodium hydroxide needed to completely saponify an oil or fat.
  • Saponifiying oils into soap is a multi-step process.

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