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This experiment is conducted to prepare soap and thus, to compare the properties of the
prepared soap and synthetic detergents which are precipitation, emulsification and cleaning
abilities. It can be conducted that soap has the properties of emulsifying oil whereas detergent are
unable to do it. The abilities of forming precipitates can be seen clearly in soap solution whereas
detergent forms no precipitates at all.
The cleaning abilities of a soap and detergent are determined. The soap is prepared by
adding some vegetable oil, ethanol and 6M sodium hydroxide solution. Then, stir and heated the
mixture under suitable temperature to keep it from overheated. The soap and the liquid (after
adding NaCI solution) need to be separated at the aspirator. The prepared soap is ready to be
proceed to the next experiment after being dried.
Properties between soap and detergent are being compared. First, both stock solution with
4 drops of mineral oil into the test tubes and observe for the emulsification. No emulsification
formed in the test tubes that contain soap stock solution. Both test tubes that contain distilled
water and detergent stock solution emulsified. After that, 1% of CaCI 2, MgCI2, and FeCI3 added
into solution three test tubes contain soap solution and three test tubes contain detergent solution
respectively and the formation of single layer and precipitate is observed. The end result is, all
mixture contain soap solution formed single layer and precipitate while only single layer formed
and no precipitation in all mixture containing detergent. Lastly, for cleaning abilities, detergent
remove stain from cloth strips faster than the soap. The experiment is successful and completed.

Soaps and detergents are used frequently in our daily day our life. We use them in many
kind of ways such as wash hand, clean clothes, bathing and other. But we still do not paying
attention on how they work and the background of them. First of all, it is hard to explain who
was first invented the soap.
Some hypothesize believe that the soap had been invented by the Babylonian in 2800 BC
where soap have been excavated in clay cylinders and the Phoenicians around 600 BC. By 1500
BC Egyptians medical scrolls recommend a soap made from alkaline salt and animals and
vegetables oil for skin conditions. In the early history, soap was used for the purpose of cleaning
textile fibres such as wool and cotton in preparation for the dyeing process instead of personal
In todays progressive world of science and technology, soap is manufactured much like
it was back then where the fats and oils are technically heated with the presence of strong base
which commonly used is sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide to produce fatty acid salts
and glycerol in a process termed as saponification process. As a matter of fact, the salt of a fatty
acid is the soap, which is a soft and waxy material that brush up the ability for cleaning purpose
of water. While processing of soap, a positive ion, usually Na + or K+ and a negative ion usually
the anions of long-chained carboxylic acids yielded by the hydrolysis of either animals or
vegetables fats.

Soap is a generic term for the sodium or potassium salts of long-chain organic acids (fatty
acids) made from naturally occurring esters in animal fats and vegetable oils. All organic acids
contain the RCO2H functional group, where R is shorthand notation for methyl, CH 3-, ethyl
CH3CH2-, propyl, CH3CH2CH2-, or more complex hydrocarbon chains called alkyl groups.
Chemists use the R shorthand notation because these groups can be very large and the
hydrocarbon chain has little effect on the compound's chemical reactivity. All esters contain the
RCO2R functional group.
The R groups in soaps are hydrocarbon chains that generally contain 12 to 18 carbon
atoms. Sodium fatty acids such as lauric (vegetable oil), palmitic (palm oil), and stearic (animal
fat) acids are just a few examples of soaps.

sodium laurate
sodium stearate

The hydrocarbon chain in soaps may contain saturated (no double bonds) or unsaturated
(contains double bonds) chains. Sodium salts are usually solid therefore; most bars of soap are of
sodium salts. Potassium salts are the basis of liquid soaps, shaving creams, and greases. Fats and
vegetable oils are triglycerides. Triglycerides are esters derived from three fatty acids. A
triglyceride made from three lauric acid molecules is shown in Figure 7-1.
Saponification is the basic hydrolysis of an ester producing a carboxylic acid salt and an
alcohol (Eq.7-1). A lone pair of electrons on the OH- is attracted to the partially positively
charged C atom in the C=O bond in the ester (Eq.3-1). The C-OR' bond breaks generating a
carboxylic acid (RCO2H) and an alcohol (R'OH). In the presence of NaOH carboxylic acids are
converted to their sodium salts (RCO2-Na+).
When a triglyceride is saponified, three fatty acid salts (soaps) and glycerol are produced
as shown in Equation 7-2. The R groups in the triglyceride may or may not have the same chain
length (same number of carbons). Thus, different types of soaps may be produced from the
saponification of a particular triglyceride.

Figure 7-1: A Triglyceride molecule made from lauric acid and glycerol

(Equation 7-1)

(Equation 7-2)


To prepare a soap with using mineral oils and to study and compare the properties of soap
and synthetic detergent.

Soap is a mixture of sodium salts of various naturally occuring fatty acids. Air bubles
added to a molten soap will decrease the density of the soap thus it will float on the water. If the
fatty acid salt has potassium rather than a sodium, a softer lather is the result. This is because the
bar soap produced in the presence of sodium hydroxide while the liquid soap is formed in the
presence of potassium hydroxide. Soap is the salt of a weak acid. Most organic acids arc weak
acids. Consequently, hydrolysis occurs to some extent when soap dissolves in water. Soap
solutions tend to be slightly alkaline (basic) due to partial hydrolysis of the acid. Theorytically,
the soap is produced by a saponification or basic hydrolysis reaction of a fat or oil. Currently,
sodium carbonate or sodium hydroxide is used to neutralize the fatty acid and convert it to the

(Equation 7-3)

The cleansing action of soaps results from two effects. Soaps are wetting agents that
reduce the surface tension of water, allowing the water molecules to encounter the dirty object.
They are also emulsifying agents. "Dirt" frequently consists of a grease or oil along with other
organic species. In general, organic compounds are non-polar. Water is a polar species. These
two substances will not dissolve in each other because of their dissimilar characteristics (the
"Like Dissolves Like" rule). Soaps cross the boundary between polar and non-polar because they
contain a polar hydrophobic (water-hating) end and a polar hydrophilic (water loving) end as
shown in figure (7-2).

Figure 7-2: a) A molecular line drawing and b) a skeletal representation of sodium stearate.
Soaps have both polar and nonpolar molecular regions, hence they are soluble in both
polar and nonpolar species. The hydrophobic (nonpolar) portion of soap is soluble in non-polar
compounds like grease and oils and the hydrophilic (polar) end dissolves in water. Soap
molecules surround grease and oils and break them up into microscopic droplets, which can
remain suspended in water. These suspended microscopic droplets are called micelles (Figure 73). Micelles contain very small amounts of oil or grease in their center. Thus oil or grease
dissolved in water forms an emulsion; a form of suspension in water.

Figure 7-3: Formation of micelle

Water supplies in certain areas are acidic as a result of acid rain or pollution, or "hard"
due to dissolved mineral content. Both acidic and "hard" water reduce the cleansing action of
soap. Soap is the salt of a weak acid and in the presence of a stronger acid, the sodium salt is
converted to an insoluble organic acid (Equation 7-4).

(Equation 7-4)
"Hard water" contains dissolved Ca2+, Mg2+ and Fe 3+ ions from the minerals that the water passes
over. Normally, soaps made from sodium and potassium fatty acid salts are soluble in water.
However, in the presence of these metal ions, the Na+ and K+ convert to insoluble Ca2+, Mg2+ and
Fe 3+ salts. (Equation 7-5)

(Equation 7-5)

In either acidic or "hard" water, the soluble soaps form insoluble salts which leave
scummy rings on bathtubs and black areas on shirt collars. The cleansing ability of soap is
reduced because soap molecules are removed from solution. There are several techniques used to
circumvent the problems generated by hard water. Water can be "softened" via removing hard
water ions from solution using ion exchange techniques or by adding water-softening agents,
such as sodium phosphate (Na3PO4) or sodium carbonate (Na2CO3). Water-softening agents react
with the Ca2+, Mg2+ and Fe 3+ removing them from water (Equations 7-6 and 7-7) and preventing
the reaction of these ions with soap (Equations 7-4 and 7-5).
3Ca2+(aq) + 2 PO43- (aq) Ca3(PO4)2 (S)

(Equation 7-6)

Mg2+(aq) + CO32- (aq) MgCO3 (S)

(Equation 7-7)

Thus Syndets were developed to overcome the soap hard water problem. Syndets
differ from soaps in that the nonpolar fatty acids groups are replaced with alkyl or aryl sulfonic
acids (ROSO3H). The alkyl or aryl sulfonic acids have long hydrophobic carbon chains and a
hydrophilic sulfonate end. The difference in polar groups is one of the key distinctions between
soap and a synthetic detergent. Syndets form micelles and cleanse in the same manner as soaps.
Two examples of synthetic detergents are shown in Figure (7-4).

Figure 7-4: Examples of synthetics detergents

Sulfonic acids are stronger than carboxylic acids, hence Syndets do not precipitate in
acidic solutions. Furthermore, alkyl and aryl sulfonates do not form insoluble salts in the
presence of typical hard water ions. Thus, synthetic detergents remain soluble in both acidic and
"hard" water.
Appartus and Material
Vegetables oil

Retort stand and Clamp

MgCl2 solution


Measuring cyclinder

FeCl2 solution



1M HCl

Glass rod

Vacuum Filtration Apparatus

Tomato sauce

Petri dish

250-mL Erlenmeyer flask

pH meter

Erlenmeyer Flask

Ice bath

Test tube with racks

Electronic mass balance

Distilled water

Cloth strips

Synthetic solution (Dynamo)

CaCl2 solution


1. 12.5 ml of vegetable is placed in a 250 ml Erlenmeyer flask. 10mL of ethanol and
12.5mL of 6 M sodium hydroxide solution are added to the flask. The mixture is stirred
using a stirring bar to mix the contents of the flask. The alcohol is carefully smelled by
wafting it towards our nose.
2. The 250 mL of flask is heated in a 600mL boiling water bath.
3. The mixture is stirred continuously during the heating process to prevent the mixture
from foaming. If the mixture should foam to the point of nearly overflowing, the flask is
removed from the boiling water until the foaming subsides, then the heating is continued.
The mixture is heated for 20-30 minutes or until the alcohol odor is no longer detectable.
4. The paste like mixture is removed from the water bath and the flask is cooled in a ice
bath fro 10-15 minutes.
5. While the flask is cooling, the vacuum filtration apparatus is assembled as shown in the
figure below. The vacuum filtration secured to a ring stand with a utility clamp to prevent
the apparatus from toppling over.

Figure 6.3- the vacuum filtration apparatus

6. A piece of filter paper is weighed to the nearest 0.001g and the mass is recorded. The
filter paper is placed inside the Buchner funnel. The paper is moistered with water so that
it fits flush in the bottom of the funnel.
7. Once the flask has cooled, 150 mL of saturated sodium chloride NaCl solution is added to
the flask to salt out the soap.
8. The water at the aspirator is slowly turned on. The mixture from the flask is poured into
the Buchner funnel. Once all of the liquid has filtered through the funnel, the soap was
washed with 10 mL of ice-cold water. The suction filtration is continued until all of the
water is removed from the soap.
9. The soap is removed from the funnel and pressed between two paper towels to dry it. The
filter paper and dried soap are weighed and the mass is recorded to the nearest 0.001 g
and the mass of the soap determined by difference and then the mass is then recorded.




1. A stock soap solution is prepared by dissolving 2g of the prepared soap in 100 mL of

boiling distiiled water. The mixture is stirred until the soap has dissolved and the solution
is allowed to cool.
2. Step 1 is repeated using 2 g of synthetic detergent. When both solution are cool, the pH of
each solution is determined using pH meter.

3. Three test tubes are labelled as test 1, 2 and 3. 4 drops of minerals oil are added to each
test tube. 5 mL of distilled water is added to test tube 1. 5 mL of stock solution is added
to test 2 and 5 mL of synthetic detergent is added to test tube 3.
4. Each solution is mixed by shaking and let stand for three to five minutes. The solution, if
any that emulsifies the oil by forming a single layer is noted.
5. The mixtures are poured into the Waste Container. The three test tubes are cleaned and
6. Three more test tubes are labelled as test tube 1,2 and 3. 2mL of stock solution is placed
in each of the three test tubes. 2mL 1% CaCl2 solution is added to test 1. 2mL of 1%
MgCl2 solution is added to test tube 2 while 2mL of 1% FeCl2 solution is added to test
tube 3. Each test tube is shaken to mix the solutions. The observations are recorded.
7. 4 drops of mineral oils are added to each of the test tubes in step 6. Each test tube is
shaken to mix the solutions and the solutions are left to stand for three to five minutes.
The solutions, if any, that emulsifies the oil by forming a single layer is noted.
8. Step 6-7 is repeated using 2 mL of stock detergent solution. The solutions that
precipitated are observed.
9. The solution, if any, that emulsifies the oil by forming a single layer is noted.
10. The mixtures are poured into the Waste Container. The test tube are cleaned and dried.
11. 5 mL of stock soap solution is poured in cine clean test tube and 5 mL of stock detergent
solution in a second test tube. 1M HCl is added one drop at a time to both solution until
the pH in each tube is equal to 3. The number of drops of acid added to each mixture is
counted. Any precipitate formed in either mixture is observed.
12. 1 drop of mineral oil is added to each test tube in step 11. Each test tube is shaken to mix
the solution. Any emulsification formed in either mixture is observed.


1. The three beakers are cleaned, dried and labeled. Then 20 mL of stock soap solution that
from step 1 is placed in the first beaker. After that, 20 mL of stock detergent solution
from step 2 is placed in the second beaker. 20 mL of tap water is added in a third beaker.

2. Three cloth test strips that have been soaked in tomato souce are obtained and then one
strip is placed in each of the beakers. Repeatedly, each solution is stirred with a stirrer bar
for 5 minutes.
3. The cloth strips is removed from the soap and detergent solution and then the excess
water is squeezed out. Each cloth strip is observed and compared to determine their
relative cleanliness.
A. Soap preparation
Mass of Filter (g)


Mass of filter paper + soap (g)


Mass of soap recovered (g)


B. Comparison of soap and detergent properties

Test (1): The comparison of the pH value of soap and detergent.
Brand name of synthetic detergent


pH of soap solution


pH of synthetics detergent solution


Name of the sample

Soap prepared
2.0 g
2.0 g
pH value
Conclusion: The soap that had been prepared is more basic that the
detergent because the pH value of soap is more than the detergent

Based on the result above, between soap and detergent, the pH value of detergent is 8.90
while the soap is 11.85. Thus, the soap prepared is more basic compare to the detergent.

Test (2) : The comparison of emulsification of soap and detergent

Before reaction with minerals oil and test After reaction with minerals oil and




test solution

Test 1
Distilled water
4 drops mineral oils + 5 mL

Test 2
Stock soap
4 drops mineral oils + 5 mL

Test 3
Stock detergent
4drops mineral oils

distilled water

stock soap

+ 5 mL synthetic

The solution 2 layer form. The

The solution become half

The solution is

bottom layer part is colorless

cloudy and singles any

white solution form

water meanwhile upper part layer


and single layer.

is oil.



Emulsification can be described as the solution that form is in a single layer. Thus, based
on the test above, the emulsification had occured in the stock soap solution and stock
detergent. . While the distilled water do not occur any emulsification because there are
oil layer at the upper part of the solution samples.


Emulsification Occurred

Distilled water






Hard and acidic

Test (3): The comparison of properties of soap and detergent in hard solution

The solution of soap solution with

1) CaCl2, 2) MgCl2 and 3) FeCl2.


The solution of detergent solution with

1) CaCl2, 2) MgCl2 and 3) FeCl2.


2 mL CaCl2 + 4

Colourless with


drops mineral oils

white precipitate

change to pale

2 mL MgCl2 + 4

Milky and have a


drops mineral oils

white precipitate

change to pale

2 mL FeCl2 + 4

Orange in solution


drops mineral oils

and have orange

change to






Oil emulsified
Synthetic detergent


Form single layer.


Form single layer.


Form single layer.

Oil emulsified




Synthetic detergent






MgCl 2










Based on the test above, the soap have the precipitate of properties if compare with the
synthetic detergent that does not formed any precipitate although react with either CaCl 2,
MgCl2 nor FeCl2.
From the result above, we can observe that when soap mixed with CaCl 2, the soap
solution change to colourless with the present of white precipitate and oil emulsion mean
while the synthetic detergent change colour into pale blue and and have oil emulsified.
When mixed with MgCl2, the soap become milky solution and also presence the white
precipitate while but no emlusion of oil .But,for the synthetic detergent only change pale
blue colour and consist oil emulsification in the form of 1 layers.
Lastly, the soap change into orange colour in solution with the presence of orange
precipitate and no emulsion of oil.But, compare to the synthetic detergent does not form
any precipitate it only change into yellowish colour and also have oil emulsion.

Cleaning comparison of a soap and detergents

Test (5): Cleaning comparison of a soap and detergent

The cleaning ability




Very clean
Not effect the

Slightly clean
Not effect the



For the test above, it more concentrate to determine the relative cleanliness for the tap
water, synthetic detergent and soap.
Based on experiment conducted, the synthetic detergent shown the high relative
cleanliness compare with the soap and the tap water.
The relative cleanliness can be conclude as:
tap water < soap < synthetic detergent
. This experiment was performed successfully and the objective was achieved. The
objective of this experiment is to prepare soap and compare its properties to that of a synthetic
detergent. There are 3 parts in these experiments. The first part which is part A is about
preparation of soap. Part B is about comparison of soap and detergent properties to test
precipitation and emulsifying followed by the part C is comparison of cleaning abilities of soap
and detergent.
After the preparation of soap in these experiment part A,will followed by the part B.This
procedure was conducted to compare the soap properties with the synthetic detergent by
observing the precipitation and emulsification that occurs. For this process, we are using the soap
produced in the first procedure in part A. During the soap preparation, saponification process
occur where the fatty acid carboxylate ions are formed in the presence of the strong base which
is used sodium hydroxide, NaOH for this experiment. Then, these carboxylate ions are the
conjugate bases of the fatty acids therefore, it is able to accept a proton to formed the stable

compound. When it placed into water, these conjugate bases are able to accept the proton from
any souces including the water.

For test 1on this experiment is about to test the comparison of the pH value of soap and
detergent .For the ph of soap solution that was prepared on part A is 9.55 mean while the ph of
synthetic detergent solution is 6.40. In overview,based on that what can conlcude is the ph value
of soap is more basic than synthethic detergent.

For the test 2 is to comparison of emulsification of soap and detergent.Emulsification in

test 2 ,occured only for test in soap and synthetics solution.But for distilled water no
emulsification. Emulsification can be described as the solution that form is in a single layer.
Thus, based on the test above, the emulsification had occured in the stock soap solution and
stock detergent. . While the distilled water do not occur any emulsification because there are oil
layer at the upper part of the solution samples.

For the part B in the test 3 is comparison of properties of soap and detergent in hard
solution , it represents the water condition is in hard water which contains Ca 2+, Mg2+ and Fe 3+
ions. The experiment was conducted using 3 different test tubes. By using our soap, precipitate
form in three of the test tubes. This is because the metal ions from the hard water will cause
the soap to form an insoluble salt. Thats why the water does not mix with the soap forming
Then, mineral oil was added to all of the three mixtures. In this process, the precipitate
that forms in the three of our test was dissolved for the soap test. The hydrocarbon is
hydrophobic and soluble with grease or oil; micelles will still be form even though the metal ions
causing the soap to be insoluble with water. But, for the syndets tests, there are no precipitates
and oil emulsifications formed. Means, the syndet are suitable to be used in the hard water, so
as the function to remove any grease or oil from cloth, since the formation micelles occur. From
the observations obtained from the experiement, the soap form the precipitate in all of the
solutions added which are CaCl2, MgCl2 and FeCl2 as well emulsifies the oil. So that, this may

not appear as a good characteristics for the soap as the cleaning agent if there formed precipitate
and emulsifies oil on the cloth. In our daily day,what can applied is for the hard water, it can be
known as the water that consist of calcium ion, Ca 2+ and magnesium ions, Mg2+. These ions are
leached from the ground water flowing over rock formations containing limestone and also other
minerals. Thus, the hard water interferes with the cleaning action of soap. That why when the
soap is react with the mineral ions that contain in the hard water, it will formed the precipitate.
So that, the precipitate leaves a deposit on clothes, skin and hair.
For the test 4, in these experiment test to the comparison of soap and detergent in acidic
solution by using 1M Hydrochloric Acid. For the soap solution test in acidic solution by using
1M Hydrochloric Acid what can conclude is the initial ph of soap is 9.55 change to 3.00 which
required only for 8 drops only and the observation is the solution become milky white precipitate
when dropping the Hydrochloric Acid solution .But, for the ph synthetic detergent solution test
change from is 6.40 change to 2.52 which required only for 3 drops only and the observation is
the solution is clear and not form any precipitate when dropping the Hydrochloric Acid solution.
For the test in the acidic solution we can observe that the soap has a high value of pH reading
compare with the synthetic detergent and the soap formed the precipitate when react with the
acid and not for the synthetic detergent.
For the part C in the final test (test 5), both of the cleaning agent are tested in the acidic
water condition. This experiment is conducted to determine the effectiveness of soap and
detergent in cleaning stain on the cloth strip. The cloth strips that have been soaked in tomato
sauce are put into the beaker containing soap solution in detergent solution. Both solutions are
stirred repeatedly by using stirring rod for 5 minutes. Then, the cloth strips is removed from the
soap and detergent solution and the excess of water is squeeze out. The observation obtained
from this experiment is the cloth strip that soaked in the detergent is cleaner than in soap solution
and tap water. Thus the relative cleanliness can be conclude
tap water < soap < synthetic detergent
Based on the theory, detergent is more effective cleaning agent than the soap as it is
effective in both hard and soft water. It is because detergent contains one or more surfactants that
increase cleanliness. Surfactants is defined as surface active agents which functioned to modify
the surface of the liquid it is dissolved in, reducing the surface tension and allowing oils and

water to mix. As we know, water is the liquid commonly used for cleaning which has a property
called surface tension. In the body of water, each molecule is surrounded and attracted by other
water molecules. At the surface, those molecules are surrounded by other water molecules only
on the water side. A tension is created as the water molecules at the surface are pulled into the
body of the water. This tension causes water to bead up on surfaces which slows wetting of the
surface and inhibits the cleaning process. Therefore, more surfactants can reduce more surface
tension and increase the cleaning process.
However, soap is also a good cleaning agent but the effectiveness of the soap will
decrease as it used in hard water. Hardness in water is caused by the presence of the mineral salts
such as calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese. These mineral salts will react with the soap
and forming an insoluble precipitate known as soap film or scum. The presence of the scum will
decrease the effectiveness of soap as it tends to remain behind and deposits on the cloth. This
reduces the amount of soap available for cleaning. Thus, soap is less effective than detergent in
cleaning process.
Therefore, as the result of this experiment is vice versa, experimental accepted during
conducting this experiment. The synthetic detergents have undeniably replaced soap for many
cleaning jobs around the home. Thus, the development of synthetic detergent by chemist actually
was a great advantage for people with relatively hard tap water in their homes.The synthetic
detergent have the advantages compare to the soap, but there is a significant issue regarding the
use of synthetic detergent that is the biodegradability of some of its components.
The soap is successfully prepared and the comparison of properties of soap and detergent,
which are precipitation, emulsification and cleaning abilities, are made and observed.
It can be conclude that soap has the properties of emulsifying oil whereas detergent has
not. The abilities of forming precipitates can be seen clearly in soap solution whereas detergent
forms no precipitates at all.


There are a few recommendations that will significantly produce better observations which will
not deviate much from the theoretical observations.
Firstly, the experiment should at least be repeated twice in order to get more accurate
observation might be more convincing if the average is taken.
Secondly, any pH reading must be conducted at same temperature for pH is varying at
different temperatures.
Avoid contact with any chemical reagents involved. Thus, wash hands before leaving the

Engineering Chemistry Lab (CHE 485).

Chemistry The Central Science 11th edition, Pearson International Edition (2009);

Mithu Majumdar. (2012). Cleansing Actionof Soap. Retrieved May 19,2013, from



Electronic Mass Balance