Science definitions can be a reference guide for you. Knowing these science terms can make the soap making process much easier for you, especially the beginner.
Understanding these terms can make a difference between a good batch of soap or a batch that flops. Some science terms have special "notes", for added tips. Science definitions are listed in alphabetical order, for your convenience. Divider lines separate alphabetized words.
At the bottom of this page you'll find fun activities for kids and adults! Test your soap making knowledge with free crosswords and fun science trivia questions. Find fun science experiments for kids and adults!
SOAP SCIENCE DEFINITIONS
ACCELERATE: A change in velocity. Begin moving quickly.
BIOACTIVE: A biological effect; as from a substance.
BIOCHEMISTRY: Science that studies chemical and physiochemical processes occurring within living organisms.
BOTANICALS: Substances obtained from plants and used as additives.
BUBBLE: A thin sphere of liquid enclosing air or gas.
BUFFER SOLUTION: A solution that resists changes in pH when acid or alkali is added to it. Buffers typically involve a weak acid or alkali together with one of its salts.
* (NOTE: Goats milk is a buffer leaving skin close to its natural pH level.) *
CHEMISTRY: Science that identifies substances composed of
matter; the investigation of their properties and the ways in which they
interact, combine, and change; and the use of these processes to form
COLD PROCESS (CP): The process of mixing oils and lye, stirring to trace, adding color or fragrance. Add mixture to soap molds. Takes about 24 hours for soap to harden. Remove soap from molds and slice. CP soap is set aside to cure, approx. 4 weeks, before it's ready to use.
CROCK POT: A container, typically rounded or cylindrical, made of ceramic or metal. Used for storage or cooking.
CURE: Allowing soap to age, harden or dry out before it's ready to use. Excess moisture in soap evaporates leaving a harder bar.
DREADED ORANGE SPOTS, (DOS): Small yellow-orange spots
about the size of pencil erasers on soap bars. Varies from one spot to
many. Can be located on different soap areas; edges, middle, top,
bottom. Mostly aesthetic problem. Soap is still safe to use.
* (NOTE: There are theories as to the cause of DOS. Prevent DOS:) *
-- keep super fat % to approx. 5% maximum
-- use oils that are fresh and properly stored
-- use distilled water
-- reduce canola, flax, rice bran or sunflower oils in soap recipes
-- allow soap to cure out of direct sunlight. Cure in a cool, dry, location
EMOLLIENT: Skin softening or soothing
ESSENTIAL OILS (EO): Natural oils containing the characteristic or fragrance from the source in which it was extracted.
* (NOTE: Essential oils are natural, POTENT, chemicals. They contain bioactive ingredients. Their natural chemicals interact with biological systems. These natural oils should be respected and treated with care. Always dilute in carrier oil, soap, lotion or other buffering agent. Never use them straight. Never use large amounts, externally or internally. Never use without knowing what their bioactive compounds can do.) *
EXOTHERMIC: A transformation in which energy is released in the form of heat or light. In an exothermic reaction, the energy needed for the reaction to occur is less than the energy released.
FOAM: Any material that traps a gas inside a cell-like structure. Examples: shaving cream, whipped cream, styrofoam.
* (NOTE: Explosions are violent examples of exothermic reactions.) *
FRAGRANCE OIL (FO): Synthetic chemicals combined to form a fragrance. Fragrance oil is tested for compatibility and scent longevity.
* (NOTE: Inexpensive, (very cheap), fragrance oils are 100% synthetic. Most "high quality" fragrance oils contain various natural essential oils combined with synthetic chemicals.) *
GLOVES: A garment covering the hands.
GLYCERIN: Another term for glycerol. A vicious, clear, sweet liquid made as a byproduct of making soap.
GOGGLES: Close-fitting, protective, eyeglasses with side shields.
HOT PROCESS, (HP): Soap is exposed to heat and
cooked through saponification process. Saponification is accelerated. Usually done in crock pot or roaster oven. HP soap is more readily
available for use than cold process soaps.
HYDRATE: To supply water to restore or maintain fluid balance.
HYDROSOL: Means "water solution". The aromatic water remaining after producing an essential oil by steam or water distillation. Also referred to as: hydrolats, distillate waters or floral waters. Gentler than essential oils. Used in place of water to create natural fragrances.
IMMERSION BLENDER: An electric mixing machine, with a long
neck. Used in food preparation for liquefying, chopping, or puréeing.
Used for making soap! Helps to eliminate hours of hand mixing. Also
referred to as stick blender.
KOH: Potassium hydroxide; used for making liquid soap.
* (NOTE: Soaps made of potassium hydroxide are softer and can more easily dissolve in water than sodium hydroxide soaps.) *
* (NOTE: Potassium hydroxide can not be substituted for sodium hydroxide in homemade soap recipes.) *
LARD: Fat from the abdomen of a pig used in cooking.
LATHER: a frothy white mass of bubbles produced by soap or cleansing substance when mixed with water.
LYE: A strong alkaline solution, highly soluble in water to produce caustic basic solutions. Has grease dissolving abilities. Also referred to as potassium hydroxide, (KOH) or sodium hydroxide, (NaOH).
* (NOTE: Follow safety procedures and wear protective equipment when working with lye. Lye can cause serious chemical burns, scarring, blindness, or other permanent injuries immediately upon contact.) *
* (NOTE: Lye can be harmful or even fatal if swallowed or ingested.) *
MILLED: Grinded or crushed in a mill.
NaOH: Sodium hydroxide; used for making solid bar soap.
* (NOTE: Soaps made of sodium hydroxide are harder and not as easily dissolved in water than potassium hydroxide soaps.) *
* (NOTE: Sodium hydroxide can not be substituted for potassium hydroxide in homemade soap recipes.) *
NATURAL EXTRACTS: Substances extracted from nature maintaining characteristics from which they were extracted.
OXIDIZE: Combining chemically with oxygen.
PH: Stands for "potential of hydrogen". A measure of acidity or alkalinity of water soluble substances.
* (NOTE: Skin with pH values below 5 is in better condition than skin with pH values above 5. Natural skin surface pH is on average 4.7, below 5.) *
* (NOTE: Soaps influence skin surface pH.) *
POTASSIUM HYDROXIDE (KOH): An inorganic compound with a strong base. Commonly called caustic potash. Usually sold as translucent pellets. Dissolution in water is strongly exothermic. Solid KOH does not dehydrate readily in high temperatures.
QUARTERNIZED: To convert into a quaternary compound. An atom bonded to four other atoms.
RICE: Reaction between fragrance oil and another specific oil in mixture. A clump forms with lumps, similar to rice. This reaction is similar to seizing, but only part of the mixture hardens.
ROASTER OVEN: A container used for cooking with prolonged exposure to heat.
SAPONIFICATION: The chemical reaction that occurs between oil and lye.
SATURATED: Containing the largest amount of a particular solute.
SEIZE: A sudden and unexpected thickening of soap. Similar to mashed potatoes. Never a good thing in soap making.
* (NOTE: Grapefruit seed oil, (GSE) and Cinnamon oil can both cause soap to seize. Learn about these oils before using in soap recipes.) *
SOAP: A cleaning or emulsifying agent made with animal or vegetable fats or oils, with potassium hydroxide, (KOH), or sodium hydroxide, (NaOH).
SODIUM HYDROXIDE (NaOH): A highly caustic metallic base and alkali salt. A white solid sold in forms of pellets, flakes, granules or in solution. Also known as lye or caustic soda.
SODA ASH: A white-greyish salt that precipitates to the surface of the soap. Appears on parts of soap exposed to air. Usually appears within the first 24 hours.
* TIPS TO PREVENT, DECREASE OR GET RID OF SODA ASH: *
-- Wash soap after a few days of curing. Place soap under cold tap water and rub affected areas with a pair of nylons or tights. Rinse lather and dry on air ventilated rack.
-- Decrease water amount by 10% in soap recipes.
-- Include .5% melted bees wax, at thin trace.
SOLUBLE: Able to be dissolved.
SPOON: A utensil with a shallow bowl on a handle.
* (NOTE: Using a long handle wooden spoon for stirring hot process soap helps prevent splatters. Prevent skin from hot, burning, popping soap.) *
SUPER FATTING: Term used when making homemade soap. Reducing the amount of lye used, to allow extra oils. Extra oils allow moisturizing properties in addition to glycerin.
TRACE: Known as the "point of no return" in soap making. The point when the oils and fats have successfully mixed with the lye solution.
* (NOTE: Trace is achieved when drizzle appears on the surface of soap mixture. The drizzle takes a little time to sink back into the mixture.) *
PLAY FREE CROSSWORDS! (with science definitions)
CAN YOU ANSWER SOAP SCIENCE TRIVIA QUESTIONS?
(You may want to study science definitions, first).
SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS FOR KIDS & ADULTS!
* (The age of the child may require adult supervision.) *
SOAP EXPERIMENT #1: Unwrap a bar of Ivory soap and place on paper towel or microwave safe dish. Place soap in microwave for about 90 seconds. Watch soap expand into foam more than 6 times the size of the original hard bar. Allow soap to cool before removing from microwave.
(* This science experiment demonstrates closed cell foam formation. *)
SOAP EXPERIMENT #2: Compare other brands of soaps, with Ivory, and repeat the science experiment above. Other brands do not contain as much whipped air as Ivory soap and simply melts in the microwave.
SOAP EXPERIMENT # 3: Whip melt and pour soap batches for different time intervals. Place the finished soaps into water. Look closely. Observe the difference in how each soap floats.
-- Does it sink into the water deep?
-- Does it sink into the water slightly?
-- Does the soap float on the surface of the water?
EXPERIMENT # 4: Fill jars with water to half full. Add a couple drops
of food coloring to both jars of water. Add canola oil to both jars,
leaving some space at top. Add liquid soap to one jar only. Add lids
to both jars then shake until contents are mixed well. Set both jars
Watch both jars closely. You'll start to see a difference in their appearance. In one jar, the oil and water separates. On the other hand, the jar with the liquid soap, oil and water remained mixed together.
(* This science experiment shows how some molecules are attracted to water and other molecules are repelled by water. *)
Soap has hydrophillic molecules, (attracted to water) and hydrophobic molecules, (repelled by water). The jar with the liquid soap stayed mixed together because soap is a long molecule. Soap has one hydrophillic end and one hydrophobic end. Water bonded to the hydrophillic end and oil bonded to the hydrophobic end. Soap remains in the middle.
Tips to learn how to make soap with science lessons.
-- Play FREE crosswords!
-- Study science definitions!
-- Answer fun soap science trivia questions!
-- Make a fun quiz using soap science definitions.
-- Write a short article using soap science definitions.
-- Try "hands on" science experiments for kids or adults!
-- Make a memory game with fun science definitions cards.
-- Match molecular term, (abbreviations), with science definitions.
Extra TIPS for finding answers to soap science definitions:
-- You can find answers to science definitions: online, in dictionaries, science books, encyclopedia, reference books, articles, magazines, newspapers, puzzles, games, etc....
-- Browse your nearest library, bookstore, supermarket.
-- Attend soap making demonstrations, soap classes, soap workshops. "Hands on" experience is a great teacher!