Social Impacts of Soap

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Soap is referred to as the integration of plant oil, animal fat and caustic soda which breaks dirt away from the surface in the presence of water. People use soap for cleaning hands, clothes, bathing, skin ointment as well as saving lives by cure skin sores by reducing the spread of harmful bacteria in dirt. However, soap is mainly known for cleansing or as perfume. This essay will analyze the social impacts of soap by discussing its history, users and social significance as well as disadvantages.

History of soap

The specific origins of soap are unknown. However, the solvent was previously used in Roman empire as medicine before being introduced as a cleanser in the second century A.D. Later in eighth-century soap was added in Italy, France, and Spain though it was not well known to the rest of Europe until the 17th century (Cavitch, 1995). Additionally, soap manufacturing began at the end of the 12th

century in England. Those people who made soap were taxed a lot by the government thus this made it a luxury product which could only be used regularly by those well off financially until the tax was reduced in 1853. By 19th century usage of soap became normal in Europe since the low-income earners could afford it (Cavitch, 1995).

Components used for manufacturing soap

Soap is produced by combining various elements to form the end product. In early days soap was made by just boiling both animal fat and wood ash, and when foam substance formed at the top, it was cooled and hardened forming soap (Cavitch, 1995). Two primary raw materials required to build soap includes Fat and Alkali. Types of alkali used are sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide and fatty acids for fat manufacturers. Advantages of using fatty acids are because it eliminates impurities and produces water as a byproduct rather than glycerin. To enhance the color, scent of soap and texture the manufacturer uses additives while to cover the odor of dirt and leave fresh smelling scent they add perfumes and fragrances to the mixture. Furthermore, the abrasives used to improve the texture of soap are silica, marble pumice, and talc (Cavitch, 1995).

Users of soap

Users of soap and its byproduct are from all kinds of the population.  For instance, children, men, women, young people, wealthy, low-income earners, employees, and employers, etc. Everyone in society uses soap in one way or another, for instance, cleaning utensils, washing clothes, bathing and as perfume, etc. Glycerin is used to make drugs, lotion, nitroglycerin and to make the main component of explosives, e.g. dynamite (Cavitch, 1995). Soap allows water and oil to mix and this makes it possible to remove dirt thus making soap a vital product in maintaining good health of users.

Positive social impacts of soap

 Soap has various positive social effects, for instance, enhancing good health. Cleanliness in environment lower the cases of diseases outbreak, for example, cholera and diarrhea which are brought by poor hygiene or dirt (Zoller, 2004). Therefore, availability of health gives ample time for people to do an essential job because they have the energy unlike if they were in hospitals or weak at home. Soap also help to reduce the death rate of children as they are the most affected by dirt but when they are cleaned regularly and washed hands before eating this assist in reducing germs that contribute to diseases leading to many deaths.

            Besides, soap facilitates in creating a good environment for people to interact and engage with one another. Both the sellers and buyers of soap engage with one another when transacting the business and therefore this promotes harmony in the society. Moreover, soap usage creates a favorable work environment since no disturbance from the odor that people produce, and therefore everyone is comfortable being in the midst of others (Zoller, 2004). It also employs the sellers and suppliers which help to reduce poverty and crimes as workers are not idle.

            Furthermore, soap has helped boost development in the society where it is manufactured or sold. From the initial stage of collecting raw materials to manufacturing and transportation to the market, those areas are developed, e.g. roads, electricity, financial institutions and increase security. This is to facilitate easy and efficient production of quality soap and therefore the society benefit from these developments. Additionally, the population gets jobs to provide their services in these developments, for instance, produce manual labor when roads are being tarmacked. Hence, people can earn money to satisfy their needs and government collect revenue to develop other areas like building schools and hospitals.

Negative social impacts of soap

Although soap production help utilizes natural resources more suitably, it also got some negative social impacts. Continued production of soap deprives natural resources in an area therefore with time these fat and alkali will be extinct and nothing to show future generations except stories (Zoller, 2004). Besides, where the soap industry is situated the people located in that location must be displaced, and even though they are compensated it is not enough for leaving their environment. Though soap usage has positive impacts on the health of the people, it also contains some adverse effects when used excessively. For example, some people are sensitive to soap perfumes, or they have allergies; therefore when exposed to these perfumes they get sick. These negative social impacts can be reduced by all soap stakeholders coming together to find the best way to lower the negative consequences, e.g. by lowering perfume in soap.


Soap was developed a long time ago and is used together with water for cleaning utensils, washing clothes, bathing among others. Soap is produced from a mixture of Alkali and fatty acids and produces soap and glycerin as a by-product. Additionally, it has some positive social impacts as well as negative, e.g. facilitate good health, reduce poverty and crimes but also its usage affects some people health due to inhaling of its perfume.

Works Cited

Cavitch, Susan Miller. The Natural Soap Book: Making Herbal and Vegetable-Based Soaps. Storey Publishing, 1995.

Zoller, Uri, ed. Handbook of detergents, Part B: Environmental impact. Vol. 121. CRC Press, 2004.

August 14, 2023



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