An excavation of ancient Babylon revealed evidence that Babylonians were making soap around 2800 B.C. Babylonians were the first one to master the art of soap making. They made soap from fats boiled with ashes. Soap was used in cleaning wool and cotton used in textile manufacture and was used medicinally for at least 5000 years.

Soap is a product for cleaning made from natural ingredients that may include both plant and animal products, including items as: animal fat, such as tallow or vegetable oil, such as castor, olive, or coconut oil. Soap supposedly got its name from Mount Sapo in Rome. The word sapo, Latin for soap, first appeared in Pliny the Elder’s Historia Naturalis. The first soap was made by Babylonians around 2800 B.C. The early references to soap making were for the use of soap in the textile industry and medicinally.

Although people commonly refer to laundry detergent as “soap,” it is actually a synthetic combination that functions much like soap, with certain major improvements. Soap cleans because each soap molecule consists of a hydrocarbon chain and a carboxylic group (fatty acids) that perform two important functions. The carboxylate end of the soap molecule is hydrophilic, meaning that it is attracted to water, while the hydrocarbon end of the molecule is both hydrophobic (repelled by water) and attracted to the oil and grease in dirt. While the hydrophobic end of a soap molecule attaches itself to dirt, the hydrophilic end attaches itself to water. The dirt attached to the carboxylate end of the molecule is chemically dragged away from the clothes being cleaned and into the wash water. Properly agitating and rinsing the clothes furthers the cleansing process.

The major difficulty with using soap to clean laundry shows up when it is used in hard water—water that is rich in natural minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese. When these chemicals react with soap, they form an insoluble curd called a precipitate. Difficult to rinse out, the precipitate leaves visible deposits on clothing and makes fabric feel stiff. Even water that is not especially hard will eventually produce precipitates over a period of time.

Although there are three ways of manufacturing dry laundry detergent, only two are commonly used today. In the blender process favored by smaller companies, the ingredients are mixed in large vats before being packaged. The machines used are very large: a common blender holds 4,000 pounds (1,816 kilograms) of mixed material, but the blenders can accommodate loads ranging from 500 to 10,000 pounds (227 to 4,540 kilograms). By industry standards, these are small batches for which the blender process is ideal. While some settling may occur, the resulting detergent is of high quality and can compete with detergents made by other processes. The second commonly used method of production is called the agglomeration process. Unlike the blender process, it is continuous, which makes it the choice of very large detergent manufacturers. The agglomeration process can produce between 15,000 and 50,000 pounds (6,800 and 22,700 kilograms) of detergent per hour. In the third method, dry ingredients are blended in water before being dried with hot air. Although the resulting product is of high quality, the fuel costs and engineering problems associated with venting, reheating, and reusing the air have led to this method being largely replaced by agglomeration.

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Merry chemicals is a chemical supplier in Ethiopia. We provide an extensive range of chemical products and services for commercial, Industrial and Domestic purposes.