Manufacture and Formulation

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This industry produces liquid and solid cleaning agents for domestic and industrial use, including laundry, dishwashing, bar soaps, specialty cleaners, and industrial cleaning products. It can be broadly divided (Fig. 1) into two categories: (a) soap manufacture that is based on the processing of natural fat; and (b) detergent manufacture that is based on the processing of

Soap Making Process Flow Chart

Figure 1 Flow diagram of soap and detergent manufacture (from Ref. 13).

Figure 1 Flow diagram of soap and detergent manufacture (from Ref. 13).

petrochemicals. The information presented here includes establishments primarily involved in the production of soap, synthetic organic detergents, inorganic alkaline detergents, or any combinations of these, and plants producing crude and refined glycerine from vegetable and animal fats and oils. Types of facilities not discussed here include plants primarily involved in the production of shampoo or shaving creams/soaps, whether from soap or surfactants, and of synthetic glycerine as well as specialty cleaners, polishing and sanitation preparations.

Numerous processing steps exist between basic raw materials for surfactants and other components that are used to improve performance and desirability, and the finished marketable products of the soap and detergent industry. Inorganic and organic compounds such as ethylene, propylene, benzene, natural fatty oils, ammonia, phosphate rock, trona, chlorine, peroxides, and silicates are among the various basic raw materials being used by the industry. The final formulation of the industry's numerous marketable products involves both simple mixing of and chemical reactions among compounds such as the above.

The categorization system of the various main production streams and their descriptions is taken from federal guidelines [13] pertaining to state and local industrial pretreatment programs. It will be used in the discussion that ensues to identify process flows and to characterize the resulting raw waste. Figure 1 shows a flow diagram for the production streams of the entire industry. Manufacturing of soap consists of two major operations: the production of neat soap (65-70% hot soap solution) and the preparation and packaging of finished products into flakes and powders (F), bar soaps (G), and liquid soaps (H). Many neat soap manufacturers also recover glycerine as a byproduct for subsequent concentration (D) and distillation (E). Neat soap is generally produced in either of two processes: the batch kettle process (A) or the fatty acid neutralization process, which is preceded by the fat splitting process (B, C). (Note, letters in parentheses represent the processes described in the following sections.)

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