Abhijeet Mahato
Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur

With the abundance of products and competition in the market, every manufacturer delivers ads on various media platforms. They are claiming their products to be best as it has got so many features and ingredients. Now, that’s a hell of a neck to neck competition. This leaves the consumers bewildered and in a dilemma to purchase which one among so many products.

In this article, we will focus on the soap industry of India. As soaps form one of the basic daily required substances, you must be aware of its qualities and grades.

What are Soaps?

In terms of Chemistry, soaps are water-soluble sodium or potassium salts of fatty acids. Soaps are made from fats and oils, or their fatty acids, by treating them chemically with a strong alkali.

Types of skincare soaps

As per Bureau of Indian Standards ( abbreviated as BIS ), there are two types of soaps in the market:

  • Toilet Soaps
  • Bathing Soaps

But, we are seldom using the words “toilet soap” and “bathing bar” interchangeably. In reality, there is a large difference between them. Toilet soap contains fattier material on the other hand bathing bars contain surface-active agents with low TFM (Total Fatty Matter).

Toilet soap is the soap used as a toiletry and the toiletry means – an object or cosmetic used in making up, dressing, etc. Due to the word toiletry, we misunderstood the concept of toilet soap. Cambridge dictionary defines toilet soap as “a sweet-smelling soap that is intended for washing the body”.’

Similarly, defines toilet soaps as, ‘mild and usually perfumed soap for washing the hands and face and for bathing.’

The bathing bars are nothing but entry-level soaps while toilet soaps are categorized into 3 grades based on their Total Fatty Matter (TFM) values.

What is TFM?

Total fatty matter (TFM) is one of the most important characteristics describing the quality of soap and it is always specified in commercial transactions. It is defined as the total amount of fatty matter, mostly fatty acids, that can be separated from a sample after splitting with a mineral acid, usually hydrochloric acid

According to BIS, Toilet Soaps are categories as

Grade1: Soaps should have 76% minimum TFM- This a high grade, thoroughly saponified, milled soap or homogenized soap or both, white or colored, perfumed and compressed in the form of firm smooth cakes, and shall possess good cleaning and lathering properties.

Grade 2: Soaps should have 70% minimum TFM – This is a thoroughly saponified, plodded soap of firm and smooth texture. It shall be white or colored, perfumed, and shall possess good cleaning and lathering properties.

Grade 3: 60 % minimum TFM- This is a saponified soap of firm and smooth texture. It shall be white or colored, usually red if cresylic acid is added and shall possess good cleaning and lathering properties respectively.

Data Reference:

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