Why is Lye used in soap?
Soap is one of the basic supplies used daily for cleaning, bathing and washing off dirt and keeping things germ-free. As an important component for lubrication, soap is chemically a form of salt made from fatty acids. Made from a mixture of fat and alkaline solution, soap was first produced in the Ancient Babylon. Coming from the Latin word sapo, soap became popular to all parts of the world in different shapes, scents and compositions. Today, most soap manufacturers target consumers who seek the kinds of soap which doesn’t have dry effects on the skin. That is why there are already many different kinds of soap that provide different effects. Some types of soap have antibacterial components while others have milk to ultimately soften and moisturize the skin but regardless of what other ingredients are found in soaps, there two basic ingredients for a soap to come to form.
Fats and alkali are the two basic soap ingredients. Fats are mainly that of the triglycerides usually found in beef. Other types of oil or emollients can also be used such as olive oil, palm oil and coconut oil. These provide various effects on the skin when used in making soap. Lye is the most common substance used as the alkaline solution. Caustic as it is, it primarily dissolves sticky substance like fat and can cause intense level of reactivity if mixed with other substances. In its natural form, lye is deemed to be a harmful substance.
Under the process of saponification, fats are broken down in a form where it can be dissolved, using lye. Because of lye’s strong chemical property, it has the ability to perform hydrolysis, and in the final process of purification and finishing, soap is form and produced for use.