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Sodium hydroxide, saponification and soap

Our soaps contain 100% natural ingredients, but what about when they are made using sodium hydroxide (also known as lye or caustic soda)? Is our soap still natural then?

The answer is yes, our soap is still natural.

Soap making requires lye, but it is not considered an active ingredient in the final soap product. This is because lye is neutralised in a process called saponification during soap making, where fat or oil is combined with water and lye and converted into soap.

So what is sodium hydroxide, lye or caustic soda?

Sodium hydroxide is an inorganic compound with the formula NaOH. It’s a colourless liquid, denser than water and highly caustic. It’s used to neutralise acids and its toxicity depends upon the concentration of the solution and the duration of its contact with tissue. As a consumer, you will never come into contact with it unless you bought it from a supplier in its pure form.

Sodium hydroxide is used in several common products such as for cleaning and disinfectants, medicines such as aspirins and anticoagulants, paper recycling and food and vegetable deskinning.

The amazing science of saponification

Saponification is a chemical reaction that occurs in soap making when fat or oil is mixed with an alkali such as sodium hydroxide. The result of that reaction is soap and glycerin. Saponification of glycerol tristearate (a triacylglyceride) with NaOH (lye) yields a soap consisting of one part glycerol and three parts sodium stearate.

There is no sodium hydroxide or lye in our finished product, only our 100% natural soap.

Ready to take the plunge?

Want to browse our latest products? then head over to our shop. If you have any questions we will be more than happy to advise so feel free to contact us

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Renata is the founder of PureHerba and has a passion for organic and environmentally friendly beauty and skincare products. Continue Reading...

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