explain about soaps

Asked by  | 20th Mar, 2008, 07:06: PM

Expert Answer:

 Water, the liquid commonly used for cleaning, has a property called surface tension. In the body of the water, each molecule is surrounded and attracted by other water molecules. However, at the surface, those molecules are surrounded by other water molecules only on the water side. A tension is created as the water molecules at the surface are pulled into the body of the water. This tension causes water to bead up on surfaces (glass, fabric), which slows wetting of the surface and inhibits the cleaning process. You can see surface tension at work by placing a drop of water onto a counter top. The drop will hold its shape and will not spread. 

   In the cleaning process, surface tension must be reduced so water can spread and wet surfaces. Chemicals that are able to do this effectively are called surface active agents, or surfactants. They are said to make water "wetter." 

    Surfactants perform other important functions in cleaning, such as loosening, emulsifying (dispersing in water) and holding soil in suspension until it can be rinsed away. Surfactants can also provide alkalinity, which is useful in removing acidic soils. Soaps are water-soluble sodium or potassium salts of fatty acids. Soaps are made from fats and oils, or their fatty acids, by treating them chemically with a strong alkali

Answered by  | 22nd May, 2008, 09:18: AM

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