The demand for fats and oils in the soap industry
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Approximately 95 percent of the saponifiable raw materials used in soap are animal or vegetable oils and fats, and 5 percent are rosin. Fats3 are natural compounds of fatty acids and glycerine known chemically as glycerides. Glycerides react with alkalies to liberate glycerine, while the fatty acids combine with the alkalies to become soaps. This reaction is therefore called saponification. Many characteristics of a soap depend on the particular kind of fatty acid used in its manufacture. Since different fats contain varying proportions of several fatty acids, the choice of a fat, or its substitute, for a particular soap depends on the proportions of its various fatty acids. Because many fats contain very similar combinations of fatty acids, there exist some almost perfect substitutes. Even the differences in characteristics of soaps produced by different fatty acids are for most purposes not so exclusive as to prevent a fair range of substitution among all fats.
It is proposed in this study: 1. To give a short account of the technical suitability of various fats and oils for soap, 2. to report the factors which affect the prices of the more important fats and oils used in the soap industry, 3. to analyze the reaction of the industry to the price changes of its raw materials and 4. to discuss some other factors which influence the consumption of fats and oils by the soap industry.