Is Soap an Acid or Base

Is Soap an Acid or Base and How Does Soap Work?

Table of Contents

We use soap every day to wash away grime and dirt from our bodies. But most of us don’t know how soap is made or what the ingredients of soap are. 

It feels great that you’ve asked the question. You’ve done this because you have a thirst for knowledge. Also, we should know the basics of things we use in our day-to-day life. 

In this article, I’m discussing whether soap is acid or base. To know about it, stick to me till the end of the article. 

Is Soap an Acid or Base?

To find out the answer to this question, at first, you should know the ingredients of soap. 

Soap is made of both acid and base. 

At this point of the discussion, you might think that soap is neither acidic nor basic, it is neutral. 

But there is another issue- the intensity or base and acid. 

To make soap, a weak fatty acid is combined with a strong base. The combination of this weak acid and strong base forms salt and water. This salt is the soap we use. 

As the base is stronger in this reaction, the salt produced is basic. 

So, the answer is- soap is a basic salt. 

If the acid was stronger than the base, the salt would be acidic. If both had similar strengths, the salt would be neutral. 

Related Article: Is Face Wash Better than Soap

How Does Soap Work

How Does Soap Work?

Now you know the ingredient of soap is both acid and base. So, you may ask another question- how does soap work? 

In this portion, I’m going to talk about that. 

A common misconception about soap is- soap kills germs. 

Soap doesn’t kill the germ, it removes those from the skin surface. Soap comes with two ends. Among those, one end is fat and round like a balloon and another end is like a chain-like tail. 

When you apply soap on your skin, the tail of it gets attracted to the dirt and the balloon gets attracted to the water. 

Several soap molecules attract the dirt and pick that up from the skin’s surface. The cumulative strength of the soap molecules pulls the dirt from the skin and creates a layer surrounding it. Here, the heads of soap molecules are focused on the outer side. This structure is called ‘Micelle’. 

When you rub the skin surface, a lot of ‘Micelle’ forms. Then, as the balloon-like head is attracted to the water, all those get washed away when you rinse your hand with water. 

This is the way soap works. 

Final Verdict

Soap has acid and base both in it. But as the base is stronger than the acid, the soaps we all use are typically basic. These basic soaps are perfect for us and help to get rid of dirt and grimes. 

However, you’ll find some acidic soaps too where the acid is stronger than the base. But those are not suitable for our skin. Acidic soap has a different use.