Soap

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Soap is the term for a salt of one or multiple fatty acids or for a variety of cleansing and lubricating products produced from such a substance.

General properties

Since they are salts of fatty acids, soaps have the general formula (RCO2)2Mn+ (Where R is an alkyl, M is a metal and n is the charge of the cation). The major classification of soaps is determined by the identity of Mn+.

  • Toilet soaps: Use Na or K, the resulting soaps are solids (if Na is used) or (if K is used). Used for handwashing.
  • Non-toilet soaps: Many metal dications (Mg2+, Ca2+, and others) give metallic soap. When M is Li, the result is lithium soap (e.g., lithium stearate), which is used in high-performance greases.

Availability

Soap can be bought from most stores.

Preparation

Saponification of fats (triglycerides) with an alkali hydroxide will yield soap and glycerol.

NileRed made a good video on making soap.

Projects

  • Washing hands
  • High performance grease

Handling and safety

Soap is a useful cleaning product, but should never be poured in areas with plants or natural water bodies since it's harmful.

It is also not edible.

References

Relevant Sciencemadness threads