Warhorse Explores Soil and Oil and Soap

What is used to make soap?  Oil, Triglycerides, Fatty Acids, Lipids, FATS. Let's start with our sunflower oil.

sunflowers ecocomplex

Sunflowers at Catawba EcoComplex, Newton, NC

Squeezing sunflower oil on a very large scale...pretty messy, just like my kitchen.

crushing seed
tawana at Ag Strong seed press

A seed press supplies Warhorse with its nutrient-rich sunflower oil.  I have a 55 gallon drum of this beautiful oil, and I am tempted to go swimming in it because it's  loaded with natural vitamin E, phospholipids, sunflower wax, beta-carotene, and antioxidants.  And it smell like a mix of seeds, sweet grass, butternut squash, and freshly plowed earth.

This growing mound of this Non GMO canola seed is sold as a nutritious addition to animal feed.  Wonder if it would make a good exfoliator in my hand scrub soap?

This growing mound of this Non GMO canola seed is sold as a nutritious addition to animal feed.  Wonder if it would make a good exfoliator in my hand scrub soap?

pouring oil

Raw, filtered oil. Unrefined oil retains more micro nutrients than refined, bleached, and deodorized oil. I wish all the plant and seed oils we use were within driving distance to Warhorse.  We're grateful for this wonderful sunflower oil.

Oil Droplets

Oil Droplets

What does a plant oil, a triglyceride, a lipid look like, on the molecular level?   I like this diagram, sort of a jelly fish look.  Here's the glycerin backbone that connects to  the fatty acids.

triglyceride molecule 2

Below is a different way to "see" an oil molecule. 

Fatty acids are the components of fats and oils that are used in making soap. They are weak acids composed of two parts: A carboxylic acid group consisting of one hydrogen (H) atom, two oxygen (O) atoms, and one carbon (C) atom, plus a hydrocarbon chain attached to the carboxylic acid group. Generally, it is made up of a long straight chain of carbon (C) atoms each carrying two hydrogen (H) atoms.

If you want to get even more info about how our body utilizes glycerin and fatty acids, you can really dig into an explanation of the saponification, or hydrolysis, process as it takes place inside our bodies.  Think of your biology class where you had to draw and dissect that Kreb's Cycle lecture.  Polk County High School teacher and coach Mr. Hensley was my high school biology teacher, and he seemed to relish the Kreb's Cycle. Here's a fox-hole of a saponification analysis video that tires me after the first 1 minute and 30 seconds, but some of you may make it all the way through.

The hydrolysis of fatty acids, aka saponification, is also used in making soap. Potassium hydroxide saponifies the oils into soap and the glycerin backbone breaks off and stays in the soap--also good for cleaning and the skin. 

But how does soap remove grease or dirt? 

tyiglyceride part of soap molecule

Here's a video about how soap works.

And if you want soap history from Prehistoric to Now, more soap chemistry, visit the US Cleaning Institute's website.