Blue Aspen Originals

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Fine soaps hand crafted in small batches

Antibacterial Soap

Today, most soaps being manufactured are already antibacterial. In the United States alone, seventy five percent of the liquid soaps you see in the grocery stores are antibacterial soaps. However, does that mean that antibacterial soaps are better than the soaps before?

In the world of chemistry, we will understand the true nature of soaps and antibacterial soaps as well. To produce soap, the combination of an acid and base is the most important step. The acid used to make soap is fat or oil. On the other hand, the base or alkali used is sodium hydroxide or lye. When acid and base is mixed, the fatty acids separate from triglycerides. It is then infused with hydroxide ions. The result is what we call soap.

Now, the two main functions of soaps are as follows. First, soap decreases the surface tension of the water. Second, it is bind to dirt, bacteria, and oil. Soap functions as such because it is part hydrophilic and part hydrophobic. Hydrophilic means water binding and hydrophobic means water-repellent. So when you use the soap to clean your skin or your hands, the bacteria is gathered by the hydrophilic part of the soap. It then encapsulates the bacteria into droplets of water and is washed away by the hydrophobic part. This means that the ordinary soap can really get rid of water simply because, that’s the purpose of soap. Does antibacterial soap get rid of more bacteria?

According to scientists, the main components that make up antibacterial soaps like Triclosan or Triclocarbon will only work if left for about two minutes or more. If you wash your hands that long, then it could work. If not, then the antibacterial soap will work just like any other regular soap. However, if you let the antibacterial soap sit long on your skin, it may result in irritation from harsh chemicals and ingredients. Also, scientists are now developing theories that bacteria may develop a resistance to these bactericidal agents over a period of time. So whether antibacterial soap cleans better than regular soap is still up for debate.