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How Soap Works

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We all love a well stocked bathroom, it's the last place we want to be stuck on a busy day. That means a well cleaned toilet and bathroom stalls, as well as a full array of bathroom accessories. If your business needs any of these things, you need to check out the products we offer here at Restroom Stalls and All. In the mean time, we thought we'd go over some of the details of a very important product that you could say we all take a bit for granted: soap. That's right, it keeps us from getting sick, but how?

Oil and Water

You're probably aware in this day and age that there is far more than one kind of soap. There's hand soap, body wash, deodorant soap, and the list goes on. They all perform the same overall job, to clean, but the difference is in how. There is one thing they all have in common, and that is how they use the properties of oil and water to clean.

The sheer force of water on your skin can clean it from most things, but unfortunately because water and oil do not mix, it is not enough to get rid of oily buildup on your skin. In order to clean your skin from oil buildup, you need the power of soap. The way soap is able to get rid of these oils is through its bonding power. This comes from a chain of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen atoms forming a specific kind of fatty acid. This fatty acid has two ends. One is lipophilic, meaning that it is attracted and sticks to oils. The other is hydrophilic, meaning that it is attracted to and sticks to water. The lipophilic end is what attaches to all the oil molecule buildup and pulls it off of your skin, and the hydrophilic end is what attaches to the water, allowing that buildup to be washed away. 

Types of Soap

While the mechanism of action for different kinds of soap is similar, there are still many factors to consider when choosing what type of soap you want to use. Many natural oils are good for your skin, and should not be stripped away. Some soaps are made to leave certain oils in tact, and some are made to clean out everything more extensively. 

Bar Soap

Every type of body soap has its benefits and drawbacks, and bar soap is no different. It's very easy to store, not even requiring a container like liquid soap. However, you have to be careful about the cleaning strength of bar soaps, as many are made to clean any and all dirt they come into contact with, including the beneficial oils on your skin. For that reason, bar soaps are more often used for their antimicrobial and deep clean properties, as in washing hands, but not so much for face washes or showers where too much use can irritate the skin, leaving it itchy and dry. However, there are many milder formulas designed for moisturizing and facial cleaning applications. These are specially designed for this use, so make sure to double check the ingredients and packaging labels.

Liquid Body Soap

Liquid soaps come in a wide range, including hand soaps, facial soaps, body washes, and shower gels. Liquid soaps and bar soaps work in the same way, so there is not much difference in their mechanism of action other than the fact that liquid soaps tend to be milder and less irritating. This makes them more popular as facial cleansers. Because of this, many liquid soaps will contain other beneficial ingredients for your skin, like sunflower or soybean oil, or or benzoyl peroxide. Additionally, beads may be added to the soap for an additional exfoliating effect.

Specialty Soaps

There's no exact definition of what qualifies as a specialty soap, but in general they have extra ingredients added into them to provide additional benefits. One example is soap that is made with glycerin or sugars, which are usually transparent in color, and provide a moisturizing benefit that counteracts the effects of dryness. Another example of a specialty soap would be one made with sodium lauryl isethionate, rather than the sodium lauryl sulfate found in most soaps that dehydrates your skin. 

If breakouts and irritation is a problem, it may be the fragrance chemicals added to your soap. Get a fragrance-free version if you're having problems with this. Sometimes, using natural chemical alternatives in soap can also reduce irritation, although skin reactions can happen from natural ingredients as well.

Antibacterial Soaps

Despite some common misconceptions, antibacterial soap has not been proven to kill germs any more effectively than regular soap. However, they can still prove beneficial on cuts and scrapes, as they do slow the growth of bacteria for a period even after application. Many antibacterial soaps are used as face cleansers, as bacteria is a leading cause of acne. However, they need to be relatively mild so as to not cause any severe irritation.

How Soap Is Made

Soap is made from fats. Maybe you've seen Fight Club and have an idea of where soap comes from, but the reality is much more mundane than that. Soap like substances have been in production dating all the way back to 2800 BC in Babylon. Nowadays, there are generally three types of saponification processes: the cold process, the semi boiled process, and the boiled process. They all essentially work the same way, except that the hot processes use heat to speed up the reaction. Additionally, in hot processes the saponification process happens before the soap is even poured into the mold, whereas in the cold process this begins after.

When made on an industrial scale, soap often undergoes an extra purification process wherein it is boiled to remove excess chemicals, then precipitated out with salt. It then needs to be dried of excess water, combined with fragrance or other specialty materials, and then blended to homogeneity. 

That is a lot of information about soap! We may take it for granted sometimes, but the modern bathroom is as much a technical marvel as many inventions we enjoy today, and one we'd notice if we lost! A well stocked, well cleaned, and functioning bathroom is a necessity for comfort both in home and business life. If you need bathroom accessories, toilet partitions, lockers, or anything else bathroom related, you are in the right place. Here at Restroom Stalls and All, we carry only the highest quality bathroom products available. Feel free to give us a call today if you have any questions about our products or shipping. We'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.