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Soap is a substance that can be used to clean human beings or other objects with the help of water, and often has a perfume or coloring added to enhance the smell it gives off. Just like any other product, soap also goes through a lifecycle, which will be further assessed step by step in this article.
Soap is made when oils and fats are combined with alkali, meaning that these are the raw materials/natural resources extracted from Earth to create this product. Furthermore, the oils needed for soap are usually plant-based, and extracted from olives for olive oil and coconuts for coconut oil. The fats can be extracted from beef tallow, and many other animal sources. On the other hand, alkali can be obtained from many sources, such as potassium hydroxide (i.e. caustic potash) or sodium hydroxide (i.e. lye created by leaching ashes). These raw materials are chosen and extracted for many reasons, such as how safe it is for the environment and customers, and whether it will do the product justice, so that consumers will buy it (Ross, 2016).
A neutralization reaction occurs when alkali, which is a base, reacts with fats and oils being more on the acidic side in order to make the final product less acidic and more basic. When making soap, the chemical process is called saponification. This process splits which is caused by the alkali. Therefore, potassium or sodium combines with fatty acid, which is the mixture that finally creates the soap. Soap then is able to harden in molds, and the product is eventually put into a shape. Perfumes are often added to enhance the smell of the soap. Saponification processes are often used in the manufacturing work space, as it is a very efficient method to use.
There are many ways in which soap is distributed worldwide. For instance, soaps can be directly distributed to retailers, then from retailers to consumers. This can allow for cheaper prices, as there are no intermediary costs, such as warehousing. Major soap manufacturers also sell directly to consumers through online stores. For example, Procter and Gamble is a manufacturing business that is big enough to sell their ivory hand soap online. Additionally, indirect channels of distribution are also used to sell soap to smaller retailers, independent stores, or speciality retailers, but usually only if there is not much capacity and their warehouse, which is why intermediaries come in use for soap manufacturers (Boykin, n.d.).
Consumers often buy soap, as it essentially cleans an individual’s body or household items in general. This is done by the lowering in surface tension of water, making it much easier to clean surfaces instead of water just building up. This works, as the molecules of soap are hydrophilic in which attracts water, and hydrophobic, which repels from water and is more attracted to cleaning dirt and oil off surfaces. Consumers usually buy specific soaps for particular reasons, such as if there are any promotions going around like discounts or if the quality good, especially when regarding to the smell of it.
As soap is often used up by consumers, little scraps of it may be left behind to recycle or dispose. When pieces of soap are recycled, often other pieces are joined together to create a new product of soap, which is only sold if deemed safe. This is especially helpful to those who can’t afford cleaning products of soap. However, most of the time soap is wasted and thrown away, which subsequently is bad for the environment, as toxic gases are released into the air when burning wastes. Therefore, it is essential to recycle soaps, as it won’t only help the environment, but it can easily help those who are in need of soap for their on cleanliness.
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