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a simple chemisty question of soap

Discussion in 'Question of the Day' started by ship, May 16, 2005.

  1. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Soap has magical qualities to it.

    Who can explain what it is and how it works? Much less how in some forms it is better suited to remove some as opposed to other parts of what it’s there to remove dependant upon formulation, yet how it also at times will leave more of a residue on the surface as opposed to others in how it works in general. It than also becoming part of the problem but a different form of it in part a solution but also in part a new problem to cope with.

    Use lots of examples in differences between one type and another from “Ivory” to some auto parts engine part cleaner machine to that which is used in a ultra-sound machine. It’s soap, and soap is a base, or it it always? What’s a base and how does it than both remove other bases as opposed to acids?

    Lead on with further info.
     
  2. ccfan213

    ccfan213 Active Member

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    i dont know the chemical formulas of different soaps, but i do know they are different. i know that in chemistry sometimes we use special soaps that neutralize substances we use or that are not reactive with substances we use. i think some cleaners bond to the substance to remove it and others break bonds. as to the question of what is a baase, it is any substance with a pH between 1 and 6. a neutral substance has a pH of 7 and an acid is 8-14. a base will neutralize an acid of the same pH and the other way around. citrus (sp) is acidic, so those orange cleaners are acid based and can break up other substances.

    alot of what i just said is my guess, based on what i have learned about chemsitry and what i know about soaps, i never learned about the chemistry of soaps.
     
  3. Peter

    Peter Well-Known Member

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    A hint and maybe others who know a little bit will jump in. (I'll let other people who havent taken AP Chem have a shot at this).

    Does anyone remember the phrase:
    Like desolves like.

    I think this comes into play very much here
     
  4. bahaha

    bahaha Member

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    I can't go into as much detail as requested, but i do know a bit. Soap works because of the unique properties of its molecules. It has a polar head and a nonpolar tail. Things with similar polarities tend to stick together. Nonpolar grime is attracted to the tail and water is attracted to the head. When the water leaves, so does the soap and grime. Soap scum is formed when the head of the soap molecule bonds with things like calcium and magnesium ions. This makes the soap insoluable and leaves behind the residue know as scum. Soap can be made by treating lye (animal fat) with sodium hydroxide (a strong base).

    I had to thumb through my chemistry book to refresh my memory.
     
  5. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    I think you will find that a substance with a pH less than 7 is acidic and one with a pH of greater than 7 is alkali
     
  6. Peter

    Peter Well-Known Member

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    ya, greater then ph 7 is a base
     
  7. ccfan213

    ccfan213 Active Member

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    oops, its been a while since i did pH
     
  8. SketchyCroftPpl

    SketchyCroftPpl Active Member

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    From the way that I understand it, and considering I just learned it this may be a bit off, but heres what I know. It was to do with teh soap being polar and non-polar molecultes. It comes in and the molectules like dissolve the dirt and such on your hand. Thats where the "Like dissolved Like" phrase comes in. Our chem teacher told it to us to describe how something like Water, which is polar, will dissolve salt because NaCl is an ionic substance and the Na+ and Cl- will cling to the (+) and (-) parts of the water, and the water has the force to pull it apart. ANother is why Oil won't mix with water, becuase water is polar and oil is non polar. So basically for soap it dissolves all of the stuff that is on your hand into intself and then gets pulled away by the water running over your hand and such. Thats the way that I understand it. I hope I'm on the right track, someone please tell me.

    ~Nick
     
  9. Inaki2

    Inaki2 Active Member

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    Should I be worried you know so much about soap? Its not like we have to use it on a daily basis you know? :p
     
  10. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Don't be offended if I don't shake your hand when we catch up next month!
     
  11. Geniediver

    Geniediver Member

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    the way my ap bio teacher explained it is that soap is made up of lipids, who have heads that are hydrophobic, lets say theya re little balls, and those little balls have tails that are hydrocarbons, these hydrocarbon tails are not hydophobic. so the heads of the lipids stick together and make sort of a chamber, dirt and grim is stuck in here, im assuming from what someone said earlier because of its charg, and then the little container is washed away b/c of the tails that can be "grabed" by water.

    also if im not mistaken, good soap is suposed to have a pH of 7, but most are bases, being a base means that when in water the molecules will release OH- ions.
     
  12. jumpjet

    jumpjet Active Member

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    I believe that the aforementioned polar molecules arrange in a sphere with the hydrophilic heads arranged towards the outside and hydrophobic tails on the inside. If memory serves, this is called a "micelle" The dirt perhaps is trapped in these micelles and regardless of whether or not they will react with water, they are carried away?
     
  13. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    So if one's PH value differs one person to another, does this mean that one person's ability to clean ones hands differs from one person to another or should some soaps be recommended for some rather than others?
     
  14. Geniediver

    Geniediver Member

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    yea ur right, i got it mixed up, my bad
     
  15. Geniediver

    Geniediver Member

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    i dont get how pH value would differ from one person to another? i mean our body carefully regulates the pH that we keep certain parts at, if not all hell would break loose. so we all have the same pH lv. on our skin atleast, well within a negligable amount. i dont think our pH has to do with it. but one reason to keep it close to neutral is that u dont want to be washing ur hands with an acid, and u dont wana wash them with a base, well atleast a somwhat strong one.
     
  16. kingfisher1

    kingfisher1 Active Member

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    are all soaps carbon based, some one mentioned lipid based soap, buy i assume that there are sythetic soaps w/o the carbon back bone. like the stuff they us to clean boats. also are suds a unique part of soap. if it doesn't sud is it a soap?
     
  17. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    So I use GoJo, Goof Off, Naptha, Denatured Alcohol, 409, Goo Gone, Simple Green and chemical de-greaser, Windex and WD-40 normally at work to clean things or my own hands.

    What are each of them, how do they react with each other and what are each good for?
     
  18. Radman

    Radman Well-Known Member

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    They are all smelly, but kinda a good smelly, the smelly that really smells kinda good, ya know?

    Hmm, my chemistry teacher sucks, so this is hard. Maybe if you posted an ingredients list, or I come back when I'm not so tired. I'm guessing it has something to do with them not being lipids, which would be fat, so they are all carbon based or at least not lipid based? Some others I have are Aerokroil ans Silikroil (sp) which are like = to WD-40. Never heard of naptha or gojo.

    It is actualy a sociological trait of American society that we are basically anal about cleanliness. Think about it- we have a cleaner for EVERYTHING. Sociology is a very interesting subject.
     
  19. kingfisher1

    kingfisher1 Active Member

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    WD-40 is a petrolium based product. Van nordstroms Scientific Encyclopedia entry for soaps says to look under colloids. colloids are basicly mixtures and they come in 5 varieties.
    Sols (or colloidals dispersions)- dispersion of soilids into liquids. example instant coffe.
    Emulsions=liquids into liquids Example- paints for bottoms of baoat that emote a liquid into the water so as to reduce water friction (they are illeagle in sail boat racing)
    Aresols- dispersion of liquids or soilids into gases-Ex. WD-40
    Foams=dispersion gasses into liquids or soilids, Ex peaking egg whites (used in baking...mmmm marangues)
    lastly gels (no not for lights)- a system that provides a stiff frame work an other things that are mixed in (can't really describe this one.) Examble Jello, hair gel...

    with that said now we get to learn about how this all applies to soaps. (not the opera kind) so class are we taking notes?

    Soaps are association collioids... they consist mostly of long hydrocarbo (watery carbon.. sort of, not really... you get the point...maybe) tail and a polar head group. (Everybody cheer for bahahah because he knew wht the $%&* he was talking about)
    becaue of this formation the little soap molecules like to play footies with their "tails" basicly forming clusters called micelles. one way a soap works is it takes something not souluble in water (hence not wash awayble with water) in the center of its little tails. this way the dirt gets washed away with the soap
    There is a whole seperate thing on deergents but i'd rather not go into it because it contains such annoying big words like ethoxylates alkyl phenols
     
  20. Geniediver

    Geniediver Member

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    at school we use GoJo and its amazing stuff, one thing i know is that it has little rocks, like sand and that helps get the muck off my scraping it off, thats why its good at geting dried paint off.
     

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