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Production of Soap: Complete Project on Soap Making

PRODUCTION OF (BAR) SOAP, How to Produce Laundry Soap write up.

This Project is for everyone that wants to 'learn how to make and produce Soap' at home, and for all (Slt) Science Laboratory Technology Students.



Soap is a combination of animal fat or plant oil and caustic soda when dissolved in water, it breaks dirty away from surfaces.

Through the ages soap as been used to clean, to cure skin sores, to dry hair, and as a salve or skin ointment. But today we generally used soap as a cleanser or perfume.

The extract origins of soap are unknown, Through Roman source claim it dates back to at least 600B.C, when Phoenicians prepared it from goat tallow and wood ash. Soap was also made by the celts, ancient inhabitats of Britain.

Soap was used widely throughout the Roman empire, primarily as medicine. mention of soap as a cleanser does not appear until the second century A.D. by the eighth century, soap was common in france, italy, spain but it was rarely used in the rest of europe until as tate as 17th century.

 Manufacture of soap began in England around the end of the 12th century. Soap makers have to pay heavy tax on all the soap they produced, the tax collector locks the lids on soap boiling pans every night to prevent illegal soap manufacture after hours, because of high tax.

Soap was a luxury items and it did not come into common use in England until after the tax was repealed in 1853. in the 19th century, soap was affordable and popular throughout Europe.
Early soap manufactures simply boiled a solution of wood ash and animal fat.

A foam substance formed at the top of the pot. when cooled it hardened into soap. around 1790, french soap maker Nicolas leblanc developed a method of extracting caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) from a common table salt (sodium chloride), replacing the wood ash element of soap.

The french chemist eugene michel chevreul put the soap-forming process (called is English saponification) into concrete chemical terms in 1823.

 In saponification, the animal fat, which is chemically neutral, splits into fatty acids, which react with alkali carbonates to foam soap, leaving glycerin as a by-product.
soap was made with industrial processes by the end of the 19th century, through people in rural areas, such as the pioneers in the western united states, continued to make soap at home.


The general aims of the study is to know, produce and experiment with scientific methods how Bar soap is been made. also manufacturer participation was aimed to be the essential part of the experiment findings. the study results, different materials used in the production were analyzed scientifically to know the role each play in soap marking.

The soap produced was compared with others to test its quality and effectiveness. And also, the overall effect of bar soap and detergent on skins, cloth, utensils was dealt with.


Soap is one of the important cleaning products which are part of our everyday lives, in modern times, the use of soap has become universal in industrialized nations due to a better understanding of the role of hygiene in reducing the population size of pathogenic micro organisms.

It was in the regard that we venture into the production of bar soap, with the aims of producing  soap that will be of good quality, effective to skins, clothes and utensils, knowing how to produce it and materials being used. It also helps to increase popular awareness of the relationship between cleanliness and health.
Soap as gain public acceptance as an instrument and personal hygiene.


The project which was based on the production of laundry soap is of the objectives of knowing its production and the processes. And also, to know different materials used, its chemical and biochemical effect.
More so to know the overall effect of the cleaning product and its essential functions to the public.



myth has it that in 1000B.C soap was discovered in Sappo hill in Rome by a group of women rinsing clothes in the river at the base of a hill below a higher elevation where animal sacrifice as take place.

 They noticed the clothes coming clean as they came in contact with the soapy clay oozing down the hill and into the water. they later discovered that this same cleaning substance was formed when animal fat was soaked down through the wood ash and into the clay soil.

 Factually, we know that soap has been around for about 2,800years. The earliest known evidence of soap use are babylonian clay cylinders dating from 2800BC containing a soap-like substance. A formula for soap consisting of water, alkali, and cassia oil was written on a babylonian clay tablet around 2200BC.
     (New school chemistry by Nicolas leblanc 2nd Edition 1790).

The Ebers papyrus (Egypt 1550B.C) indicates that ancient Egyptians bathed regular and combined animal and vegetable oil with alkaline salts to create a soap-like substance, Egyptian document mention that soap like was used in the preparation of wool for weaving.
     (Organic chemistry by John mc murry 2nd Edition).

According to pliny the Elders, the phoenicians prepared it from goat tallow and wood ashes in 600B.C and sometimes used it as an article of barters with the Gaul's. the word ''soap''  appear first in a European language in Pliny the Elder's HISTORIA NATURALIS, which discusses the manufacture of soap from tallow and ashes, but the only use he mentions for it is as pomade for hair, he mentions rather disapprovingly that among the Gaul’s and Germans, men are likely to use it than women.

Soap was widely known in the roman empire, weather the Roman learn its use and manufacture from ancient Mediterranean peoples or from the celts, in habitats of Britannia, is not know. Early Romans made soap in the first century A.D from urine to make a soap-like substance.

The urine contained ammonium carbonate which reacted with the oil and fat in wool for partial saponification.
    (Pliny the Elder, Natural history, xxviii. 191 alos martial Epigrammata viii 33,20).

The celts who produced their soap from animal's fat and plant ashes, named the product saipo, from which the word soap is derived.

The important of soap for washing and cleaning is apparently not recognized until the 2nd century A.D, The Greek physician Galen mentions it as a medicament and as a means of cleansing the body. previously soap had been used in as medicine.

The writings attribute to the 8th century Arab savant Jabir ibn hay an (Geber) repeatedly mention soap as a cleansing agent. The Arab made the soap from vegetable oils as olive oil or some aromatic oil such as thyme oil.

Sodium Iye (Al-soda Al-kawia) NaoH was used for the first time and the formula hasn't changed from the current soap sold in the market. from the beginning of the 7th century soap was produce in Nablus Palestine kuf (Iraq) and Basra.

Arabian soap was perfumed and coloured some of the soaps were liquid and other were hard. they also have special soap for shaving. It was commercially sold for 3Dirham's (0.3 dinars a piece in 981 AD).


Historical soap was made by mixing animals fat with Iye. because of the caustic Iye, this was a dangerous procedure (perhaps more dangerous than any present day home activities) which could result in serious chemical burn or even blindness.

Before commercially produce Iye was common it was produced at home for soap making from the ashes of a wood fire.

In Europe soap production in the middle ages center first at marseilles later at Genoa then at venice. Although some soap manufacture development in Germany, the substance was so little used in a central Europe that a box of soap presented to the duchness of juclich in 1549 caused a sensation.

As late as 1672, when a German, A leo sent lady in von schleintz a parcel containing soap from Italy he accompanied it with a detailed description of how to use the mysterious product.

Castile soap made entirely from olive oil was produced in the kingdom of castile in Europe as early as the 16th century (about 1616) fine sifted alkaline ash of the salsola species of thistle called barilla was boiled with available olive oil instead of tallow. by adding salty brine to the boiled liquor, the soap was made to the float to the surface.

where it could be skimmed off by the soap-boiler, leaving the excess iye and the impurities to settle out.

The produced what was probably the first white hard soap which hardened further as it was ages without loosing its whiteness forming, jabor de castila which eventually became the generic name.
  (Partington, james riddick (1999) A history of Greek fire and gun powder. JHU press. p.307. ISBN 0-8018-5954-9).


The first English soap maker appeared at the end of 12th century in bristol. In the 13th and 14th centuries, a small community of them grew up in the neighbourhood of cheap side in london. In those days soap makers had to pay a tax on all the soap they produced.

After Napoleonic wars this tax rose as high as three pence per pound, soap boiling pans were fitted with lids that could be locked every nihght by the tax collector in order to prevent production under cover of darkness.

Not until 1853 was this high tax finally abolished at a sacrifice to the state of over E1, 000,000.

Before this, because of the high cost of soap, ordinary household work was done without soap until about 1880, when cheap factory made soap began to flood the market.

Soap came into such common use in the 19th century that justus von liebig, a German chemist declared that the quantity of soap consumed by a nation was an accurate measure of its wealth and civilizations.
    (New school chemistry by Ossei Yaw Ababio 6th Edition (2000).

Soap was certainly known in England in the sixteenth century but as it was made of fat, and fat was needed for making candles and rush lights, it was always a prerogative of the rich when a soap is primarily for cleaning linens and clothes rather than the human body.

Since little emphasis was placed on using soap for boldly cleanliness people. (shall we say)  had an ''air'', about them that they try to overcome by wearing sachets of herbs around necks or carry these sachets in their pocket.

When bath were taking whether soap was used or not, the bath water was traditionally shared among the family members with the small children being bathed last.

The end result was so dirty and murky that a small child could literally be lost in the water, hence the saying ''Don't throw the baby out with the bath water''.


Early soap makers probably used ashes and animal fats simple wood or plant ashes containing potassium carbonate were dispersed in water, and fat was added to the solution. This mixture was then boiled, ashes were added again and again as the water evaporated.
 (Robinson, James Harvey (1904). Reading in European history 1611 Ginnado).

React with the alkali carbonates of the plant ash to form soap (This reaction is called saponification).

Animal's fats containing a percentage of free fatty acids were used by the celts. The presence of free fatty acids certainly helped to get the process started this method probably prevailed until the end of the middle ages, when slake line come to be used to cauticize the alkali carbonate.
(Cavitch, susan miller.The natural soap book. storey publishing 1994, ISBN 0-88266-88-9).

 Through this process, chemically neutral fats could be saponified easily with the caustic iye.

The production of soda ash from brine about (1790) and by the work of a french chemist chevreul who in 1823 showed that the process of saponification is the chemical process of splitting fat into the alkali salt of fatty acids (that is soap and glycerin).

The method of producing soap by boiling with open steam introduce at the end of the 19th century was another step towards industrialization.

The industrialization of soap making through tended to used more chemically produce ingredients and less natural ingredients and produce in essence a detergent rather than soap such as our ancestors used.
  (Advance organic chemistry by Arun bahl and B.S Bahl chapter 27, pg 659).

With world war 1 and the shortages the fats and oils that occurred, people felt compelled to look for a replacement for soap leading to the invention of synthetic detergent.

This detergent while be able to clean our clothes effectively are comprised of harsh chemicals that clean scent and coat our clothes.

Unfortunately, many of these synthetic detergents have found their way into our skin care products. This has caused in some people super sensitivity to these ''soap'' rashes, skin irritation and allergies plus a general drying out of the skin.

Increasingly we required to use hand creams and lotion to prevent or reduce the dryness and detergents, wind, sun and dry atmospheres. 

Like facial creams, they act largely by replacing lost water and laying down an oils firm to reduce subsequent moisture loss while the body's natural process repair the damage.
  (Biochemistry by mary k . campbell and shawn o. farrel 6th Edition Chapter 8 pg 203).

In modern times, the use of soap has become universal in industrialized nations due to a better understanding of the role of hygiene in reducing the population size of pathogenic micro organisms. 

Manufactured bar soaps first became available in the late nineteenth century and advertising campaigns in Europe and the united states help to increase popular awareness of the relationship between cleanliness and health.
By the 1950's, soap had gained public acceptance as an instrument of personal hygiene.


To understand what is needed to achieve effective cleansing, it is helpful to have a basic knowledge of soap and detergent chemistry. Soap is the mixture of sodium salt of various naturally occuring fatty acids. Air bubbles add to a motten soap will decrease the density of the soap and it will float on water.

 if the fatty acids salt have potassium rather than sodium a softer lather is the result soap is produced by a saponification process or basic hydrolysis reaction of a fat and oil.

Currently, sodium carbonate (Naco3) or sodium hydroxide (NaoH) is used to neutralized the fatty acids and convert it to the salt. fat+NaoH --->Glycerol+sodium salt.

 Although the raection is shown as a one step reaction is in two steps. The net effect is that the Ester bonds are broken. The Glycerol turns back into the alcohol. The fatty acids are portion to turn it in to a salt because of the presence of a basic solution of the sodium hydroxide (NaoH).

In the carboxyl group one oxygen has a negative charged that attracts to positive sodium ions. the type of fatty acids and length of the carbon chain determines the unique properties of various soap.

  (Thomssen, E.G, PHD (1922). soap making manual free ebook at project Gutenberg).

Tallow or animals fat gives primarily sodium stearate (18 carbon) a very hard insoluble soap. fatty acids with longer chain are even more insoluble.

Coconut oil is a source of lauric acid (12 carbon) which can be made into sodium luarate, This soap is very soluble and will lather easily even in sea water. fatty acids with 10 or fewer carbon are not used in soaps because they irritate the skin and have unpleasant odours.

The cleaning action of soap is determined by its polar and non-polar structure in conjunction with an application of solubility principles.

The long hydrocarbon chain is non polar and hydrophobic (water-loving) when soap is added to water and dissolved in the non-polar hydrocarbon end of the soap molecules is repelled by water. A drop or two of soap in water form a monolayer and water surface.

The soap molecules stand up on the surface as the polar carboxyl salt ends attracted to the polar water. The non-polar hydrocarbons tails are repelled by the water which makes them appear to stand up.

The organic part of a natural soap is a negatively charged polar molecule. It hydrophilic (water-loving) carboxylate group (co2) interacts with water molecules which are ion-dipole interaction and hydrogen bonding. 

The hydrophobic (water-hating) part of a soap molecule its long non-polar hydrocarbon chains are attracted to each other by dispersion forced and cluster together forming structure called micelles.

In these micelles the carboxylate group from a negatively charged spherical surface with the hydrocarbon chains inside the sphere. Because they are negatively charged soap micelles repel each other and remain dispersed in water.
   (Organic chemistry by john mc murry 2nd Edition).


Human safety

As consumer needs and life styles changed and as new manufacturing processes become available the soap and detergent industry respond with new products.

A commitment of safety is a top priority from the time a company begins working on a new product and continues as long as the products are in the safety of existing cleaning products by talking with consumers, reviewing scientific developments and monitoring products use data that may affect the safety assessment process.

To determine the safety of a cleaning product ingredient, industry scientist evaluate the toxicity of the ingredients. Toxicity is generally defined as any harmful effect of a chemical on living organism. since all chemicals including water (H20) are toxic under certain condition of exposure.

Scientist must consider a number under a factors affecting exposure. These include the duration and frequency of exposure to the ingredient, the concentration of the ingredient at the time of exposure, and the route and manner in which the exposure occurs, e.g. eye, skin or ingestion.

This information is essential whether assessing the effects on human, animal's plants or micro organism.

Because human safety and environment evaluations consider different types of exposures, they are evaluate by different procedures. The principal steps in the assessment process are however, the same.

 They involve:
- Assembly existing data on toxicity and exposure.
- Determining where new information is needed and if necessary, carrying out appropriate studies, and
- Determining whether predicted exposure levels are below the level that cause significant toxic effects.

This safety evaluation process enable scientists to predict the potential risk, if any, associated with the use of the ingredient or product, and determine if it is safe for consumers and the environment.
  (Pears, Francis (1859). the skin baths, bathing and soap the author pp 100-).

Medical science as long confirmed the importance relationship between cleanliness and health.

The regular used cleaning products is fundamental to the health of our society and the well-being of this people Because, cleaning are part of our everyday lives it is essential that we consider its significant risk to health. 

In considering human safety of an individual ingredients or products, toxicologists (scientists who assess the safety of a chemical) are concerned with the effects from two types of exposure. 


Intended exposure occurs with the use of a cleaning product according to the manufacturer's direction.

 Unintended exposure can result from misuse through improper storage or by accidental contact such as well a liquid or bar detergent is splashed in the eyes.

Hazard from these type of exposure are evaluated from information obtained through acute (short-term) test and chronic (long-term) test and through a review of existing data. Expected exposure routes are considered as part of these evaluations.

  (Noted in levey martin (1958). Gypsum, salt and soda in the ancient mesopotamian chemical technology).

Human safety evaluate began with specific ingredients and then move onto the whole products. The effects for all ingredients are considered as the product is formulated.

Toxicologist compared the expected exposure the expected effect during both product manufacture and use. How will workers be exposed in the plan? 

what is the intended use of the product? It is to be diluted? 

Undiluted? used daily at home? Used weekly in the work place? Toxicologists also consider the expected effect of an unintended exposure.

If this human safety evaluation indicates an unacceptable risk if may be possible to make the risk smaller by changing the manufacturing process, reformulating the reduce or eliminate an ingredient contributing to the toxic effect, or using labeling or chil-resistant closure.

 If the risk cannot be reduced, the product will not be marketed.





The following are the materials used for the preparation of laundry soap;

Caustic soda
• Soda ash
• Sulphate
• preservative formalin
• Colorant
• P.K.O
• Perfume
• Water.


Containers (Plastic bowls)
Hand gloves
• Soap mould
Stirring rod (Turning stick)
• Plastic spoon.


This is just an example, do your own flow chart. 


Step1.  Put 1kg of caustic soda into a small bucket and mix with 2litres of water, and stir it very well.

Step2. 1kg of soda ash is put into a small container and 2litres of water was added into the small container containing soda ash and 1/2kg of sulphate was added to it then stir very well.

         Then leave the two solution to stay for 24hrs.

Step3. On second day pour four litres of oil (p.k.o) into a big reactor and step1 solution then added small by small to have homogeneous mixture.

Step4. Step2 solution was added into the step3 in reactor and stirred very well to have homogeneous solution.

Step5. Colorant, perfume, and formaline were added into reactor in Step4 solution and stirred very well to have homogeneous mixture.

Step6. Prepared mould were made and the step5 solution was pour into it, covered and leave it to the next day to make it solid.




It was observed from the soap we produced that it is a soft soap and have the ability to form softer lather in water.

The soap formed is a laundry soap with pure colour having a pleasant smell when the perfume is added to it. 

And the present of sulphate and soda ash thickens the soap and has the ability to form lather readily in water.

It brings out the real colour that will added to the mixture and the present of the colour is to beautify it, and it does not affect or stain the clothes and utensils that we used it to wash.

The soap comes out in a solid form with a good shape we want, accordingly to the types of soap we have, laundry (bar soap) has a very good form and shape which can be handle and used by everyone.

The soap was made into a smaller pieces of bar size.
when Na2co3 is added to tap water the calcium (ca2+) and magnesium(mg2+) ions precipitate as their carbonates i.e foaming capacity of soap increases.

When sodium or potassium soap are put into water containing calcium and magnesium ions (Hard water) results in formation of scum which appears grey appearance on the cloth. To achieve the same washing or cleaning action, more soap must be added.


 The extract colour appears when it is added.

 Proper stirring occurs during the mixing process.

 When soap is shaken with water it becomes a soap solution that is colloidal in nature.

Agitating it tends to concentrate the solution on the surface and causes foaming. This helps the soap molecules make a uni-molecular film on the surface of water and to penetrate the fabric.

cleansing action of soap decreases in hard water. Hard water contains calcium and magnesium ions which react with sodium carbonate to produce insoluble carbonates of higher fatty acids.

When dissolved in water, it breaks dirt away from surface.




The laundry soap was domestically produced using very cheap readily available raw materials using a simple and direct methodology which ca easily be carried out.

The soap was able to clean utensils properly leaving no grease on them and was found to be effective in washing white and coloured clothes.

As a result of the presence of caustic soda, soda ash and sulphate the soap can reduce pathogenic microbial activities.

It is amazing that the fundamentals of the soap making process are in essence uncharged over the cause of the past 2000years. 

Of course, the arrival of modern day technological Advancement, along with our knowledge of chemistry has made the soap making process much more precise and a refined science and art.

 We use soap to get rid of all the dirt, grime and impurity especially from our skin, every other factor such as perfume etc is minor. The question which soap is best for us can be answered.


As a result of the effectiveness, cheap cost and readily availability of laundry (bar soap), I hereby recommend this soap:

-  For Mothers and house wife who always desire to keep their kitchen and cooking utensils clean free from grease.

- For nursing mothers, for washing baby diapers since the soap does not permit scum precipitation as this will prevent rashes on their baby skin.

- For launderers and dry cleaners who desire to retain the confidence of their customers and as well gain more patronage.

- For maintenance companies, that desire to reduce their expenditures and minimize profit.


Cavitch, susan miller.The natural soap book. storey publishing 1994, ISBN 0-88266-88-9.

Jones, geoffrey (2010) ''cleanliness and civilization.

Dunn kelvin M. (2010) scientific soap making the chemistry of cold process clavicular press ISBN 978-1-935653-09-0

Thomssen, E.G, PHD (1922). soap making manual free ebook at project Gutenberg.

Noted in levey martin (1958). Gypsum, salt and soda in the ancient mesopotamian chemical technology.

pears, francis (1859). the skin baths, bathing and soap the author pp 100- .

Robinson, james Harvey (1904). Reading in European history 1611 Ginnado.

Partington, james riddick (1999) A history of greek fire and gun powder. JHU press. p.307. ISBN 0-8018-5954-9.

Pliny the Elder, Natural history, xxviii. 191 alos martial Epigrammata viii 33,20.

Soap Etymonline.com. retrieved on 2011-11-20.

 New school chemistry by Nicolas leblanc 2nd Edition 1790.

 organic chemistry by John mc murry 2nd Edition.

 Biochemistry by mary k . campbell and shawn o. farrel 6th Edition Chapter 8 pg 203.

Advanced organic chemistry by Arun Bahl and B.S Bahl chapter 27 pg 659.

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