Dnl – 2nde : how to make soap ? I history of soap

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The earliest recorded evidence of the production of soap-like materials dates back to around 2800 BC in ancient Babylon. A formula for soap consisting of water, alkali, and cassia oil was written on a Babylonian clay tablet around 2200 BC.

The word « sapo », Latin for soap, first appears in Pliny the Elder's Historia Naturalis, which discusses the manufacture of soap from tallow and ashes, but the only use he mentions for it is as a pomade for hair; he mentions rather disapprovingly that the men of the Gauls and Germans were more likely to use it than their female counterparts. Aretaeus of Cappadocia, writing in the first century AD, observes among Celts, which are men called Gauls, those alkaline substances that are made into balls, called soap. (Wikipédia)
BC : Before Christ

Alkali : Some authors define an alkali as a base that dissolves in water and a solution of a soluble base has a pH greater than 7.0.

Cassia : Le cannelier de Chine est une espèce d'arbre, originaire de Chine. Il est aussi nommé cannelle de Cochinchine, fausse cannelle.

Pliny the elder : Pline l’ancien

Tallow : suif (Le suif est un produit résiduel obtenu par la fonte de la graisse d'espèces animales comme le mouton et le bœuf)

Ashes : cendres

Pomade : pommade

Disapprovingly : avec désapprobation

female counterparts : homologues féminins

Aretaeus, is one of the most celebrated of the ancient Greek physicians, of whose life, however, few particulars are known

remark : A physician is a professional who practices medicine. Not to be confused with physicist, a scientist who studies or researches physics.

AD : anno domini ( after Jésus Christ)

  1. What ingredients do you need to make a soap?

  1. how was soap made in the time of the Gauls?

  1. In your opinion, what oil is used to make « le savon de Marseille » ?








  1. Reflux condenser (montage à reflux)

A reflux condenser is used to make soap.
In an erlenmeyer flask, we introduce:

  • 20 mL of sodium hydroxyde (10 mol.L-1)

  • 20 mL of oil

  • 20 mL of ethanol (to solubilize well the oil)

The mixture is heated to reflux for about 30 minutes.

  1. In your opinion, what are the advantages of the reflux condenser ?

  1. Fill the chart





Water in

A stir bar

Water out

An erlenmeyer flask

A magnetic stirrer

A condenser

  1. Salting out soap (relargage du savon)

The mixture is poured into a saturated salt solution. And this solution is then poured into the Büchner funnel. We use a vacuum filtration.

Vacuum filtration is a technique to separate a solid product from a solvent or liquid reaction mixture. The mixture of solid and liquid is poured through a filter paper in a Buchner funnel. The solid is trapped by the filter and the liquid is drawn through the funnel into the flask below, by a vacuum.

buchner funnel with flask

Is soap soluble in salt water?

Vacuum flask :

To vacuum source :

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