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Synthetic detergent, which was not a soap, but was made through a chemical synthesis that substituted fatty alcohols for animal fats, had been developed in Germany during World War I to alleviate a tallow shortage. Detergents are superior to soap in certain industrial processes, such as the making of textile finishes. They work better in hard water, and they eliminate the soap curd responsible for "bathtub rings." In 1933 Procter and Gamble introduced a pioneer detergent, Dreft, which targeted the dishwashing market because it was too light for laundering clothes. It succeeded, especially in hard-water regions, until World War II interrupted detergent marketing.
DIY: Make Your Own Soap - OpenLearn - Open University
SOAP AND DETERGENT INDUSTRY. Traditionally, soap has been manufactured from alkali (lye) and animal fats (tallow), although vegetable products such as palm oil and coconut oil can be substituted for tallow. American colonists had both major ingredients of soap in abundance, and so soap making began in America during the earliest colonial days. Tallow came as a by-product of slaughtering animals for meat, or from whaling. Farmers produced alkali as a by-product of clearing their land; until the nineteenth century wood ashes served as the major source of lye. The soap manufacturing process was simple, and most farmers could thus make their own soap at home.
A variety of different triglyceride sources ranging from Vietnamese garlic oil to a local restaurant's grill sludge were saponified to generate a series of exotic soaps. Students did not quantify their results, but described their products in terms of color, texture and odor. Their results were compared with existing data on the triglyceride content for each source used (when possible). Soap texture seemed to be related to the degree of unsaturation present in the starting triglyceride. However, texture alterations due to occluded impurities could not be ruled out. In general, fats and oils high in saturated fats (butter) gave hard, chunky, and waxlike soaps, while those high in unsaturated fats gave flaky and easily crumbled soaps (olive, corn, peanut and sunflower oils). Soap color was not consistent with triglyceride unsaturation levels during the time frame studied. Odor changes were dramatic and were explained in terms of a change in chemical structure (i.e. conversion from an ester to a carboxylate salt). In general, the experiment was well received by students and stressed the importance of making precise qualitative observations during the experiment.