How is soap made?
Present day soap is produced by mixing oils with either a lye solution (water + sodium hydroxide) or potash solution (water + potassium hydroxide). This reaction converts the oils (triglycerides) into fatty acid salt and glycerol.
Soap may be one of the oldest personal hygiene products invented, dating as far back as 2800 BC. This simple yet powerful commodity is made from oils and/or fats combined with an alkali substance. The original soaps were made from oils or fats mixed with water and salts. This was later refined to use oils or fats mixed with water and wood ash. Wood ash contained potassium hydroxide or caustic potash, which when mixed with water created the necessary alkali solution that would turn the oils into soap.
How does soap work?
Have you ever mixed oils with water, like when making salad dressing, and noticed that they don't quite "blend" together. No matter how vigorously you shake the water-oil mixture, the oils tend to stay together, eventually creating a layer separate from the water. This is because the chemical properties of water are not compatible with the oils. For this reason, if you try washing your hands only in water after touching something greasy, it is nearly impossible to get the oily sensation off your hands.
As you may have noticed with water and oils, some chemicals mix only in water (hydrophilic or water-"liking"), and other chemicals only mix in oils (hydrophobic - "afraid" of water). However, soap is different. Soap is amphiphilic, meaning it can mix with both water and oils. When you lather your hands with soap under water, you break through the water-oil barrier allowing the soapy water to lift and remove the greasy grime and dirt off your hands. This is also why washing your hands too frequently or using harsh soaps can leave your hands dry as they have removed the natural oils on your skin.
Does soap work against microbes and viruses?
YES! All microbes and many viruses are made of an oily layer called an envelope. The amphiphilic soap salts are able to effectively remove these unwanted pathogens off your hands with generous amount of soap and water. A 2018 study shows that soap can interact with the envelop (exterior layer) of Influenza virus effectively inactivating it (Kawahara et al, 2018). So next time you're done using the restroom and glance over at the sink as you leave, do yourself and your loved ones a favor and wash your hands!
Activated charcoal has the property to absorb chemical impurities and is used in medicine to detoxify patients that have ingested harmful chemicals. While there is still a lot of debate on whether charcoal has actual beneficial effects on the skin, it is frequently used in beauty products as a rejuvenating and exfoliating agent, especially in Eastern cultures.
Growing up I've used charcoal body washes and soaps, which leave a soothing and invigorating feeling. I wanted to share the positive benefits of charcoal and decided to handcraft all of our soaps using organic charcoal. Albeit an inert compound, I hope you too can experience the benefits of charcoal too!
What is the white film or powdery substance on the soaps?
The white film or powdery substance is called soda ash. soda ash is a by product that occurs when making soaps by cold process and poses no harm or health hazard. The soda ash is sodium carbonate and forms when residual unsaponified lye reacts with the carbon dioxide in the air. Soda ash is more a cosmetic issue and can annoy soap makers who have intricate design patterns on the soaps as the soda ash can obscure the designs. At Otsukare Sun we do our best to reduce soda ash formation by ensuring maximum saponification before casting the soaps in the mold, as well as reducing the reaction temperature during soap making.