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Is lye soap a synthetic detergent?

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Primrose

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I'm curious to hear thought on this statement. The poster appears to suggest that because we use lab made sodium hydroxide, which is synthetic, we are not making soap, we are making synthetic detergents. I think a syndet is a different thing to a soap bar and I don't follow the logic here ... :smallshrug:Screenshot_20200414-172506.jpg
 

DeeAnna

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Ah, another Facebook kerfluffle. :confused:

The statements in the first few paragraphs are accurate. NaOH and KOH as purchased and used by modern soap makers do not exist in nature. They are hazardous chemicals produced by large manufacturers. Soap is a surfactant (a "surface active agent" in that it is able to help water and oil to mix) and a detergent (a type of surfactant that functions as a cleanser).

On the other hand, the last paragraph contains the writer's own conclusions, and they are not necessarily accurate.

Yes, modern soap makers choose to use strong alkalis (NaOH or KOH) purchased from large manufacturers. We do this because using purchased alkali is easier and more convenient. Also because these chemicals are relatively pure, we can make soap that does not contain undesirable impurities.

But the writer does not seem to realize that NaOH and KOH can be made from chemicals that are found in nature using simple methods you can use in your kitchen or back yard. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), washing soda (sodium carbonate), and potash (potassium carbonate) can all be found in nature. Examples of minerals that include these chemicals include natron (used for mummification), trona (mineral found in the arid states in the western US), and ashes of wood and other plant materials.

The writer also does not seem to know that soap can be made directly from these natural chemicals. You do not HAVE to use KOH or NaOH to make soap. The first soap made by humans was probably a mixture of wood ashes bound together with fat. As time went on, people learned that heating this mixture of fat and ashes would eventually create soap. Natural decomposition processes also produce soap. For example, grave soap (adipocere) forms when bacteria decompose body fat into a type of soap.

So, to refute the writer's last paragraph -- Soap can be created by natural processes. Humans can make soap with chemicals found solely in nature. Given that soap can be made using chemicals found in nature and processes that are naturally available to living organisms (including humans), therefore soap is not a synthetic detergent.

The writer can argue they want to the contrary, but their conclusions are based only on a narrow and biased understanding of the chemistry of soap making. In other words, they only know how to make soap the way they make soap. They do not have a full and accurate appreciation for ALL of the ways soap can be made. Their conclusion is incorrect.
 
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Primrose

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I am pretty sure fb is the root cause of the apocalypse :rolleyes: the writer in other comments seems to infer that soap is only soap if you use naturally derived lye, so anyone using purchased NaOH is making syndet. But.also then contradicts themself by saying soap is only.made with NaOH.not KOH, and only KOH can be made naturally, thus following this logic soap.doesnt exist ...

It's been a weird.afternoon :/
 

DeeAnna

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Yeah, what this person is saying is really pretty weird. You have my sympathy -- it's crazy-making to be around someone who says stuff like this.

I think this person's distinction between "synthetic" NaOH versus "natural" NaOH is much ado about nothing. I am quite sure NaOH molecules really don't care whether they came from salt brine or from soda ash. (And KOH is made much the same way -- either from salt brine or from potash.) But it's not worth wasting any time to argue about this.

Talking to people like this is like debating with Niagara Falls -- the waterfall doesn't care and is not going to change, no matter what I say or how loud I holler. I still walk into this trap from time to time, but I'm getting better about letting go of the need to respond. Maybe I'll get it figured out one of these days.

But it's fun to discuss things like this with you. I hope what I've said is making sense. If I haven't been clear, please ask.

"FB is the root cause of the apocalypse" ... I love it!
 

Arimara

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Wow. I am nothing nice to say about that. I might get a warning if I do. Leaving that groups might be the only suggestion I have since no one needs that level of stupidity stress in their lives but I don't know what the soap making groups are like on facebook. Probably better to quote DeeAnna and keep it moving.
 

DeeAnna

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I belong to one FB soap making group -- tallow soapers -- that has members who are mostly factual and straightforward people. Every once in awhile, however, somebody feels the need to throw out some hare-brained idea. If it's a safety issue, I'll speak up, but otherwise ... I try to not reply. I sometimes write responses that I don't send. Or I just bite my lip and move on.
 

Susie

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I had to leave all FB soapmaking groups. HAD to. The idiots uninformed and uninterested in the truth people in those rooms were dragging me down to their level. Better to walk away and leave them to it, I thought.
 

IrishLass

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Right here, silly!
Blissfully, I am not on any FB groups. Actually, I don't even have a FB account at all, although Hubby does to keep to touch base with his fellow bandmates. I log onto it every so often, but just to look at photos some of my family members have posted. Otherwise, I can't be bothered, mostly because I just don't have the time, and also because I really, really hate the FB format.


IrishLass :)
 

Susie

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Both sides of my family use FB to keep in touch. And that includes my aunts and uncles. We use it for every communication. I use it for a very select group of friends and acquaintances. Not everyone I encounter. This keeps me watching FB.
 

Primrose

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You are all.much wiser than me! I periodically leave fb from time to time, I actually hate how social media makes people behave ... like that guy literally commented he posted it to intentionally inflame people because he was bored. I don't like the nasty side fb brings out in people. Unfortunately it is a handy way to not only sell my soaps but also keep in touch with my family and friends on the other side of the country.

Having said that I have enjoyed the responses here, thank you @DeeAnna yep what you posted makes sense.
 

Arimara

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You are all.much wiser than me! I periodically leave fb from time to time, I actually hate how social media makes people behave ... like that guy literally commented he posted it to intentionally inflame people because he was bored. I don't like the nasty side fb brings out in people. Unfortunately it is a handy way to not only sell my soaps but also keep in touch with my family and friends on the other side of the country.

Having said that I have enjoyed the responses here, thank you @DeeAnna yep what you posted makes sense.
A lot of those same people don't realize just how much they are being watched for behavior like that. It comes back to them in ways they don't expect. It helps that I'm an older millennial with plenty of internet experience.
 

Susie

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My son told my daughter that the first thing he does when he gets an application is to look at every person's social media. And if he sees ugly comments, keg parties, or anything he does not want representing his company, he sends their application to the "Not now, not ever" file. She was already super careful about what she posted, but now that she is almost a teacher, she is (positively) getting involved in discussions on education subjects. Social media is nothing more than a tool. You can use it for good or bad.
 

Rsapienza

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I belong to one FB soap making group -- tallow soapers -- that has members who are mostly factual and straightforward people. Every once in awhile, however, somebody feels the need to throw out some hare-brained idea. If it's a safety issue, I'll speak up, but otherwise ... I try to not reply. I sometimes write responses that I don't send. Or I just bite my lip and move on.
My problem is that not only do I type responses, I also hit send. I need to learn this lip biting technique you speak of. 🙊 I have found that not only are many misinformed, they do not want to hear anything that contradicts their way.
 

earlene

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The good thing about FB, is that I can go back and delete posts. If one has years worth of posts they regret posting for whatever reason, it can be done if the person is willing put the time into it.

For a few years I participated in some FB games that automatically post activity to FB. I had years of one of those Farming games posts that just cluttered up my FB history. It took me a really long time to delete them all, but once I found a way to do it, I would dedicate a couple of hours a day to just deleting posts. I finally got all of them deleted from all my FB accounts (yes, I have multiple accounts.)

It worries me that employers use social media as a decision making tool for hiring or not hiring job applicants. On the one hand, yes, I do understand why they do it, but on the other hand, I do find it disturbing.
 

atiz

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When I was in grad school and on the job market for the first time, we were told not to post *anything* on social media that could be taken badly (and better not to post anything, full stop). I was never very active on FB and especially don't post about political stuff, but had a somewhat politically oriented post once that my advisor made me take down because he thought it was too controversial. And this was 4 years ago.

About the OT, well, it seems to take "synthetic" in the very broad sense of whatever *is actually* made in a lab. Which is of course true of most things these days, also of lye. The narrower and more proper sense seems to be whatever can *only* be made in a lab. So yes, soap is syndet in the first sense but not in the second, and probably DeeAnna is right that the first sense doesn't really matter.
 
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