what is saponification?

For hundreds of years, soap-making, based on the saponification of triglycerides naturally available in vegetable and animal fats, has been a cornerstone of hygiene products. The comparatively recent use of synthetic or semi-synthetic surfactants in the production of liquid hand and body washes has enabled these products to match the appearance and performance of natural liquid soap at a lower cost but without the inherent moisturising benefits and environmental sustainability of natural soap.

Saponification is a chemical reaction between two components: a fatty substance (vegetable oil or animal fat) and an alkali in order to obtain a mixture of soap and glycerine. Although the reaction was practiced for many centuries, its accurate description was first written by a French chemist, Michel-Eugène Chevreul in 1823.

There exists three types of saponification

  • Cold saponification
  • Hot saponification
  • Cool saponification

 

Cold saponification

Cold saponification is a technique that consists of reacting the mixture of vegetable or animal fat with alkali at an ambient temperature. The chemical reaction naturally generates the heat.

The mixture is then poured into a mold and dried at ambient temperature, typically from four to six weeks. This long process is necessary to allow the saponification to finish, allowing for the oils to be transformed into glycerine and soap.

Soap produced by the cold process is generally softer and will have a tendency to dissolve in humid situations like a bathroom.

 

Hot saponification

Hot saponification is a process that consists of heating the fat and alkaly mixture at high temperature, typically above 100ºC, to accelerate to overall saponification process. Glycerine is then often removed, and the soap paste is extruded in soap noddles and sold around the world for further formulation.

Soap produced by the hot process is generally harder and harsher than its cold processed cousin.

 

Cool saponification

Natuva has received in 2017 a grant from the WA State government to scale an innovative continuous process to manufacture an all-natural moisturising liquid soap. Neither hot nor cold we call our innovation Cool Process.

Unlike the hot process, Natuva cool saponification process does not need to heat oils to 100ºC, and therefore reduces unnecessary energy consumption and prevents heat stress to the oils. And, unlike the cold process, its continuous nature and fast reaction time ensures a high level of efficiency and consistency.



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