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Subject - Organic Chemistry

Usually, the term soap (from the Latin sapo) describes sodium or potassium salts of saturated or unsaturated higher fatty acids, which in the form of solid or semi-solid mixtures find applications for washing and cleaning purposes. Their washing effect is based on reducing the surface tension of water. The long hydrocarbon groups of the soap molecules which exist as micelles in water especially interact with fatty dirt. However, the polar ends still protrude beyond the surrounding water. Finally, the dirt is completely covered by soap molecules and removed from its support. The large number of soap molecules filled with dirt particles form a firm emulsion which at the end of the laundering process can be removed.

Furthermore, in geology and mineral exploration, the term soap describes a local, mechanical enrichment of specific heavy and mechanically or chemically especially resistant minerals, which were generated by weathering and/or transportation. Known are, for example, placers (Goldseifen), deposits enriched with gold by a flowing stream.

See also: fatty acids