General, Savon de Marseille

Discover How Soap Works

Discover How Soap Works

How Soap Works exactly is a great question! Natural French Soap has investigated this mystery of everyday life and will explain this handy chemical process for you right now!


Have you ever noticed that trying to wash greasy hands with just water is, to say the least, absolutely worthless without soap… the grease digs in and refuses to leave! It even has the audacity to spread out. So why is soap so effective?


In fact, water can dissolve a non-greasy stain on our hands, as in mud or chalk dust. but not the greasy stuff, because only grease attracts grease. A good natural soap (Marseille soap, Aleppo soap) is greasy enough to succeed in drawing other grease, like olive oil. It is certainly not a case of ‘opposites attract’ where grease is concerned.
So to answer the question,  how soap works…


Chemical Explanation

(warning: This paragraph may seriously cure your insomnia)


The soap is composed of several molecules. Each of these molecules consists of two parts. (see Diagram 1)


1. The Hydrophilic head of the molecule: One that loves water but hates fat, (Lipophobic)

2. The Hydrophobic Tail (or chain) of the molecule: which is the opposite and worships fat but abhors water (Lipophilic).


This is called an amphiphilic product and soap is amphiphilic, which allows it to wash. Confused yet? Yeah me too so hopefully this explains it…


When you wash hands full of olive oil with soap, this is what happens. The Hydrophobic tail molecules try to escape the water and attach themselves to the fat stain. Thus only the hydrophilic head remains on the surface of the greasy stain to bond with the surrounding water. This little-formed ball is called a micella. (diagram 2)




The fat comes off because it is driven by the strength of the connection between the water and the hydrophilic heads of the molecules, dragging the grease with it. Goodbye greasy stain, hello clean hands!


So there you have it…if someone at your next dinner party wants to know how soap works, you can tell them – mystery solved. So let’s hear a big round of applause for natural soap, just doing its thing.


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