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What Are the Functions of Sodium Carbonate in Soaps?

by Eric Tilden ; Updated September 28, 2017

The invention of soap is, from an evolutionary standpoint, a recent invention, emerging during the Middle Ages. Centuries later, a substance called soda ash, or sodium carbonate, improved the cleaning power of soap and allowed industrial production to create an effective, inexpensive product.

Identification

Soap is the chemical reaction between sodium hydroxide and a fat or oil. Once the chemical reaction completes, what is left is glycerin (a moisturizer) and sodium salts of fatty acids (soap).

Features

Sodium carbonate soaps help remove insoluble oils from materials, such as motor oils, human sweat stains and vegetable grease.

Functions

Sodium carbonate soaps are ideal for hard water conditions, which have an acidic environment. Sodium carbonate creates an alkaline medium, ideal for detergents to remove unwanted, insoluble stains.

Significance

Sodium carbonate soaps help eliminate the magnesium and calcium rings around the bathtub, by neutralizing the mineralized ions in the water.

History

In 1791, Nicholas Leblanc, a French chemist, patented a process for making soda ash (sodium carbonate) from common table salt. Industrial soap makers were able to produce large quantities of inexpensive, quality soap.

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About the Author

Eric Tilden is a fantasy novelist and author of a weekly newsletter for P*JET * IMAGES, an online art website. He has been working on his fiction novels since 2005, and has written for Demand Studios since June 2009. Tilden attended the University of Michigan-Flint, obtaining an education in art, music theory, archaeology, accounting, calculus and basic graphic design.