Meaning of SOAP AND DETERGENT in English


substances that, when dissolved in water, possess the ability to remove dirt from surfaces such as the human skin, textiles, and other solids. The seemingly simple process of cleaning a soiled surface is, in fact, complex and consists of the following physical-chemical steps: Wetting of the surface and, in the case of textiles, penetration of the fibre structure by wash liquor containing the detergent. Detergents (and other surface-active agents) increase the spreading and wetting ability of water by reducing its surface tensionthat is, the affinity its molecules have for each other in preference to the molecules of the material to be washed. Absorption of a layer of the soap or detergent at the interfaces between the water and the surface to be washed and between the water and the soil. In the case of ionic surface-active agents (explained below), the layer formed is ionic (electrically polar) in nature. Dispersion of soil from the fibre or other material into the wash water. This step is facilitated by mechanical agitation and high temperature; in the case of toilet soap, soil is dispersed in the foam formed by mechanical action of the hands. Preventing the soil from being deposited again onto the surface cleaned. The soap or detergent accomplishes this by suspending the dirt in a protective colloid, sometimes with the aid of special additives. In a great many soiled surfaces the dirt is bound to the surface by a thin film of oil or grease. The cleaning of such surfaces involves the displacement of this film by the detergent solution, which is in turn washed away by rinse waters. The oil film breaks up and separates into individual droplets under the influence of the detergent solution. Proteinic stains, such as egg, milk, and blood, are difficult to remove by detergent action alone. The proteinic stain is nonsoluble in water, adheres strongly to the fibre, and prevents the penetration of the detergent. By using proteolytic enzymes (enzymes able to break down proteins) together with detergents, the proteinic substance can be made water-soluble or at least water-permeable, permitting the detergent to act and the proteinic stain to be dispersed together with the oily dirt. The enzymes may present a toxic hazard to some persons habitually exposed. If detached oil droplets and dirt particles did not become suspended in the detergent solution in a stable and highly dispersed condition, they would be inclined to flocculate or coalesce into aggregates large enough to be redeposited on the cleansed surface. In the washing of fabrics and similar materials, small oil droplets or fine, deflocculated dirt particles are more easily carried through interstices in the material than are relatively large ones. The action of the detergent in maintaining the dirt in a highly dispersed condition is therefore important in preventing retention of detached dirt by the fabric. In order to perform as detergents (surface-active agents), soaps and detergents must have certain chemical structures: their molecules must contain a hydrophobic (water-insoluble) part, such as a fatty acid or a rather long chain carbon group, such as fatty alcohols or alkylbenzene. The molecule must also contain a hydrophilic (water-soluble) group, such as -COONa, or a sulfo group, such as -OSO3Na or -SO3Na (such as in fatty alcohol sulfate or alkylbenzene sulfonate), or a long ethylene oxide chain in nonionic synthetic detergents. This hydrophilic part makes the molecule soluble in water. In general, the hydrophobic part of the molecule attaches itself to the solid or fibre and onto the soil, and the hydrophilic part attaches itself to the water. Four groups of surface-active agents are distinguished: Anionic detergents (including soap and the largest portion of modern synthetic detergents), which produce electrically negative colloidal ions in solution. Cationic detergents, which produce electrically positive ions in solution. Nonionic detergents, which produce electrically neutral colloidal particles in solution. Ampholytic, or amphoteric, detergents, which are capable of acting either as anionic or cationic detergents in solution depending on the pH (acidity or alkalinity) of the solution. The first detergent (or surface-active agent) was soap. In a strictly chemical sense, any compound formed by the reaction of a water-insoluble fatty acid with an organic base or an alkali metal may be called a soap. Practically, however, the soap industry is concerned mainly with those water-soluble soaps that result from the interaction between fatty acids and alkali metals. In certain cases, however, the salts of fatty acids with ammonia or with triethanolamine are also used, as in shaving preparations. Additional reading Encyclopaedic coverage of every aspect of the chemical industry is provided by Herman F. Mark et al. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, 3rd ed., 31 vol. (197884), formerly known as Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, with a 4th edition begun in 1991; Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, 5th, completely rev. ed., edited by Wolfgang Gerhartz et al. (1985 ); and Thorpe's Dictionary of Applied Chemistry, 4th ed., 12 vol. (193756). Soaps and detergents are covered in detail in J. Davidsohn (Isser Davidsohn) et al., Soap Manufacture, vol. 1 (1953); A.M. Schwartz, J.W. Perry, and J. Berch, Surface Active Agents and Detergents, vol. 2 (1958); A. Davidsohn and B.M. Milwidsky, Synthetic Detergents (1967); J.G. Kane, Soaps: Their Chemistry and Technology (1959); W.W. Niven (ed.), Industrial Detergency (1955); J.L. Molliet, B. Collie, and W. Black, Surface Activity: The Physical Chemistry, Technical Applications, and Chemical Constitution of Synthetic Surface-Active Agents, 2nd ed. rev. (1961). Information may also be found in chapters on soaps and detergents in A.E. Bailey, Industrial Oil and Fat Products, 3rd ed. by D. Swern (1964); and in R.N. Shreve, Chemical Process Industries, 3rd ed. (1967). A.S. Davidsohn The Editors of the Encyclopdia Britannica

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