The Hidden Part of Making Soap and Its Ingredients

In this essay I want to rise up a topic of making soap and introduce how much oils can be used for it. As it is part of beauty industry every consumer need to know what is hidden behind products that he or she uses in every day life. In general, 3 traditional soap making methods are used:

  • Semi Boiling
  • Full Boiling
  • Cold Processed


Semi Boiling

For this process, the soft and hard oils and their blends are very suitable in which the fat is first all melted, followed by the treatment with a weak 9-10% caustic soda solution followed by the boiling of the mixture. The amount of caustic soda needed for oil saponification is 14-15% of the oil's weight. In order to get a 9 percent solution, this weight of caustic soda is dissolved in ten times its water weight. When the caustic solvent is applied to the liquid, and when an emulsion is created when the soap is stirred, saponification begins. Then more caustic solution is applied to avoid mass thickening. It is added bit by bit after sufficient solution to complete the saponification and the mass boiling continues until the soap is clear. Moderate heat was retained during the boiling process and each addition of caustic soda solution must be allowed to react with the oil before making the next addition. A hurried addition may delay saponification in the initial stages of the process or may result in drying of the soap at the final stage of saponification, whereas a judicious addition would preserve the mass in the form of a smooth homogeneous emulsion. If the soap shows some signs of separation and graining, more water is added to bring the mass into a homogeneous state. The ribbon test requires taking from the pan a small sample of the soap and cooling it. When a small amount of this cooled soap is pushed in between the thumb and forefinger, the soap does not come out with slightly opaque ends in the shape of solid shiny ribbons and is transparent when held against the light. If this cooled sample is drawn out in threads, excess water is present in the soap, and more boiling is needed to evaporate more water. The soap is oilier and needs more caustic when opaque ends appear and disappear, while if the soap is grainy or turbid and white, it suggests a high degree of presence of unreacted caustic and requires more oil. To measure the amount of alkali, a physical evaluation – the taste test is sometimes performed. This test includes cooling a small amount of the soap with the tip of the tongue and sampling it. A harsh bite reveals that the soap is too caustic, whereas a tiny bite shows a high amount of unsaponified fat or oil. Good soaps offer a mild bite to the tongue.

The fire is removed after the completion of the boiling process, and with little stirring, the soap is allowed to cool. It is possible to add perfume and color to the soap at this point. This method is not ideal for the manufacture of toilet soap, but can be used for the manufacture of laundry and all other kinds of soft and liquidsoaps. The method does not allow waste alkali containing the glycerin produced in the soap making process to be removed, and thus the glycerin, which tends to reduce the soap's hardening property and enhance the cosmetic property, is retained in the finished soap. This approach has some benefit over the other twosince it is possible to manufacture large amounts of good soap within a short time. The use of this approach also helps soaps to incorporate a high percentage of fillers, thereby the bulk of soap.

Full Boiling

The process will begin by placing the melted oil into the boiling tank and running a weak caustic soda solution into the oil. The mixture is then slowly boiled to start the saponification. The beginning of an emulsion is denoted by its shape. With continued boiling, caustic soda of higher strength was also added in small amounts when saponification began. In the initial stages, rapid addition of caustic alkali can also interrupt saponification completely and water should be applied in this case and the boiling continued until the excess alkali is taken up for the saponification to proceed. The ribbon and taste measures decide the end of saponification. The soap becomes very firm and dry when saponification is done, with a permanent faint caustic like feel on the tongue when cooled. The soap is then ready for graining.

Graining out of the Soap

The purpose of this is to separate the waste lye, a mixture of glycerin created during the process of soap boiling and excess caustic soda solution, from the soap. In dry form or as brine, this is caused by a limited use of common salt.

Cold Processed

This method includes treatment of fat or oil with a definite amount of alkali and no removal of waste lye. While neutral soap can be developed with great care through this process, the soap is very likely to contain both free alkali and unsaponified fat. The method is generally based on the fact that at low temperatures, the glycerol of some low fatty acid oils (nut oils such as coconut and palm kernel oils) easily combines with strong caustic soda solutions and produces little heat to complete the saponification reaction. It is absolutely important to use high quality raw materials in this process. Oils and fats should be released from excess acidity because caustic soap neutralizes the free fatty acids that form soap granules easily in the presence of a strong caustic solution, and because it is very difficult to extract the grainy soap without rising heat, the soap tends to become dense and gritty and often discolored. The caustic soda used should also be clean, contain as little carbonate as possible and the water should be soft, carefully separating all other materials from all dirt particles. The method involves stirring half of the weight of the caustic soda solution into the milled fat in a tank at a temperature of 24 ° C for coconut and 38 ° C to 49 ° C for the blend. Not only should the pressing of the caustic solution into the oil be performed slowly and continually. The mixture must be stirred in just one direction when the solution is drained into the oil. Chemical reaction happens with a lot of heat generation after all the caustic soda solution has been inserted into the oil and the mixture has been stirred for 30-45 minutes, eventually resulting in oil saponification. The contents of the tank look small, but it will become a dense mass after a few hours. If the process progresses on the edges of the soap become more translucent, and the soap is ready to be poured into moulding boxes for hardening, cutting and stamping after perfuming, when the clarity has extended to full mass. To mix the caustic soda solution, a small caustic potash solution is used, which significantly enhances the appearance of the soap, making it cleaner and milder.

Different Types of Soap Making Oils 

Multiple fatty acids and glycerol esters are fats and oils. Three kinds of fats and oils are available: fixed oils, mineral oils and essential oils. The key soap-making raw materials are fixed oils as they decompose when heated heavily into fatty acids and glycerol and can be saponified easily by alkali. The physical characteristics of fixed oils containing both animal and vegetable oils are further classified as follows:

  • Nut Oils

These oils are described as having a high proportion of low molecular weight fatty acids, in particular lauric and stearic acid. A representation of these oils is coconut oil. These oils are the major foam-producing ingredients used in toilet soaps. Usually, with solid alkali solution, they saponify readily. The mechanism continues rapidly with the evolution of heat until these oils have started to saponify. In order to grain their soaps, they need very large amounts of strong brine, and grained soaps appear to hold more salt than other soaps. These oils are more appropriate for the manufacture of soaps for cold processes.

  • Hard Fats

There are large concentrations of palmitic and stearic acids in the hard fats. Hydrogenated fats, animal tallow and palm oil are examples of these oils. These oils produce soaps that are slow-lathering, but the lather produced is more resistant than the nut oils over long periods of time. They are saponified first with mild alkali in soap production, then with stronger alkali solutions in the final stages.

  • Soft Oils

There are large quantities of unsaturated acids in these oils, including oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids. The soap production properties of these oils vary accordingly to the composition of their fatty acids and the physical and chemical properties of the acids. Groundnuts, cotton seeds, fish oil and olive oil are examples of these kinds of oils. When used for soap making alone these oils cannot make a very hard soap. Usually, they are mixed with nut oils. Their soaps lather freely and have good detergent properties.

  • Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the most popular base oils used in today’s soap-making. 100 percent olive oil soap or ‘Castile’ soap has been produced for decades, and soap manufacturers of all kinds usually use at least some olive oil in their blends today. Olives are a type of fruit known as drupe, which is basically a type of fleshy fruit in the middle with a hard seed. The olives are usually crushed and grounded into a paste. The oil then needs to be separated from the paste by various methods. The “virgin” olive oil is the first oil to emerge from the very first crush. The paste that is left behind is called ‘pomace’ after the first extraction. 

Olive oil contributes to the hardness of the soap, stable lather, slick feeling, conditioning, moisturizing. Olive Oil helps keep your skin smooth and supple by drawing external moisture to your skin. There are a greater proportion of nonsaponifiable ingredients in Pomace olive oil. This subtly impacts its SAP value and gives the oil and the soaps produced from it a greenish hue.

  • Neem Oil

The neem oil is derived from neem tree seeds. The oil is greenish yellow, nondrying, with an unpleasant garlic odor and an acrid and bitter taste. The oil is commonly used in the making of both laundry and toilet soaps in India to mix other oils. The oil readily saponifies and provides a strong and very stable lather with a hard-grained soap. It is very important to grain the soap when used alone for soap making, as this helps to eliminate much of the undesirable odor and color. On the other hand, it is advisable to first make neem oil soap if it is used to make soap with other oils. The other oils are stirred into the soap has been seeded and the necessary amount of caustic soda solution is applied to start the saponification again. Neem oil soap is used for both laundry and antiseptic purposes. Neem oil has been used in the manufacture of natural cosmetics, toothpaste, emulsions, soaps, hair and skin products, liquors, ointments and medicinal cosmetics. However, neem oil can be manufactured from dried neem seeds mechanically (hot or cold press) or chemically (solvent extraction). By cold press, the highest quality neem oil with a majority of phytoconstituents intact is obtained. The oil is lighter in color in a cold press and has a milder odor.

Moreover because solvents are not used in pressing techniques, possible residual solvents in chemical extracted oil that may pose health hazards to customers are removed. Neem oil is rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs), vitamin E, calcium, and triglycerides. Neem oil penetrates deep inside the skin because of its EFAs and vitamin D to heal the minute cracks caused by extreme dryness. 


To conlude with this topic there ara plenty oils that are used for making different type of soap. The process of creating can be, at first glance, a bit complicated, but in fact everything happens easily and with interest.

07 July 2022
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