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A complex chemical process
The chemical reaction of saponification is at the origin of soap making. Slow, total, and highly exothermic, it consists in hydrolyzing an ester into a carboxylate ion and an alcohol by using a strong base (soda or potash) in an alkaline medium. It produces glycerol and carboxylates which give the soap its detergent properties. Sodium carboxylates generate hard soaps, while potassium carboxylates make soft to liquid soaps.
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