hist-brewing: Re: sanitation/detergent vs. soap

Sean Richens srichens at sprint.ca
Mon Jul 31 15:59:08 PDT 2000


If you were reading the fine print at the time, Ivory Snow is now "new and
improved" and is no longer soap.  I called Poo & Goo and told them off.

Even the laundry stuff from my eco-freak store is a detergent blend.  They
do sell soap - as a liquid called "vegetable and fruit wash" to wash off
pesticides when organic stuff is out of season (or to wash that natural
manure off).  It's priced most outrageously.

I worked in a fat-derived-chemical plant as a student.  It turns out the
only way to test whether an oil or fat will make a nice clear soap (like
hair gel) is to try it.  Making soap in the lab, even with the fume hood,
was a smoky, smelly and somewhat scary process.  What do the neighbours say
about you making soap at home, Jeff?


----- Original Message -----
From: "Jeff Renner" <nerenner at umich.edu>
To: <hist-brewing at pbm.com>
Cc: <brewinfo at xnet.com>
Sent: Monday, July 31, 2000 8:16 AM
Subject: hist-brewing: Re: sanitation/detergent vs. soap

> Al Korzonas <brewinfo at xnet.com (BrewInfo)> writes:
> >Detergent doesn't ruin head retention... soap does.  Big difference.
> >Sodium Carbonate (washing soda) is a great detergent and doesn't leave
> >the soapy film that you are thinking of.  Soap suds... detergents don't.
> >The problem is that many cleaners are mislabeled as "detergent" when
> >they really are "soap."
> I'm not sure I agree with Al on several things here.  First, soap and
> synthetic detergents are both surfactants, or surface active agents.  This
> means that they reduce surface tension, or make water "wetter,"  which
> helps clean things by making the dirt rinse out or off things more easily.
> Their molecules also have an oil attracting end and a polar, water
> attracting end.  This means that they will make oil and water mix, which
> handy for cleaning as much dirt is oily.  I don't think sodium carbonate
> would really be a detergent, although it may help cleaning.
> Mild warning - some sorta technical stuff follows, but I think I've made
> pretty straight forward and I hope understandable, and it's stuff that is
> useful to know as a consumer, I think.
> Soap is an organic salt made from a fatty acid and sodium (or potassium)
> hydroxide.  This salt is very soluble in water, which is a good thing for
> soap to be, of course.  However, in hard water, calcium ions (Ca++) will
> displace the sodium ions (Na+) from the soap molecule.  It's an energy
> thing, you don't need to know why it happens, it just does.
> Unfortunately, while sodium soap is very soluble in water, calcium soap is
> very insoluble.  We have a name for it soap curd - or bathtub ring.  Since
> it isn't soluble, it can't participate in cleaning.  This is where water
> softeners come in - they substitute sodium ions for the calcium ions in
> hard water.  Water with no calcium (or magnesium, which acts like calcium)
> is called soft because of the way it behaves with soap - no soap scum.
> Adding washing soda will have a similar effect by putting in a whole lot
> sodium ions, which keep more of the soap soluble.
> Soap scum is bad since it won't rinse out and traps dirt (bathtub ring).
> You can scour your bathtub but your clothes will not rinse clean and your
> hair will be dull and stiff.  Incidently, it is the lack of soap curd that
> makes people feel they can't rinse soap off when they shower with soft
> water.  Actually, they are rinsing off far more than with hard water, it's
> just that it remains soluble and slippery.  In hard water, it is not
> slippery, even though there is lots more left on your skin.
> Synthetic detergents were developed (I think in the 1930's) to work in
> water - they remain soluble in hard water, so they will clean clothes,
> hands, dishes, hair, etc. in all kinds of water, although you need to use
> more in hard water.
> I don't think there are mislabeled detergents that are actually soaps, at
> least as far as major manufacturers products go.  There are very few
> soaps left on the market except for bar soaps - most are detergents, and
> even some bars are synthetics (Zest and Dove are two - do you remember the
> TV ads for Zest showing how there was no scummy deposit on eyeglasses that
> were dipped into sudsy water with Zest as there was with soapy water?).
> Virtually all major manufacturers' laundry products are synthetics - Ivory
> Flakes may still be soap; I think Duz is gone.  Dishwashing liquids and
> dishwasher powders and liquids are all synthetic, as far as I know.
> Household cleaner are likewise except for Murphy's Oil Soap and perhaps
> some others, but Mr. Clean, Spic n' Span, etc are synthetics.  Shampoos
> too - you wouldn't like the results with hard water and soap.  That's why
> women used to use rain water for shampooing - or beer!
> I make my own soap and really like it with my softened water, but I'm
> certainly glad for detergents.
> For beer glases, I use hand dishwashing detergent and just rinse really
> well.  Seems to work pretty well, but not great.  I know brewers who use
> nothing but hot water, but that won't remove lipstick, and it just leaves
> me uncomfortable anyway.
> Jeff
> -=-=-=-=-
> Jeff Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA, c/o nerenner at umich.edu
> "One never knows, do one?"  Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943.
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