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Soap noodles are produced by saponifying vegetable oils such as palm oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and, or animal fat (tallow) using sodium hydroxide. Soap noodles are considered to be the basic precursors of soap. Both soap makers and hobbyists use soap noodles because they can be easily customized with pigments, fragrances, and other additives to produce soap. This soap can be further customized by molding, pressing, and stamping to provide the final product.
Direct saponification is the most common method used to make soaps, where triglyceride molecules react with sodium hydroxide by the reaction. Fats and oils are hydrolyzed into their constituent fatty acids and glycerol. The fatty acids are then neutralized with sodium hydroxide. The oil, fat is trans-esterified with methanol to produce methyl esters. The methyl ester was saponified with sodium hydroxide to produce a soap with methanol as a by-product.
The mixture is homogenized through a series of rollers to produce a thin sheet of soap, or the mixture is fed into a large worm screw. Under high pressure, the mixture was stirred along the length of the screw and extruded through a perforated endplate to produce several layers of soap. The homogenized soap is compressed by a large worm screw extruder (plodder) to produce a single large continuous soap bar.
Different specifications of soap noodles can be used to make various types of soap, for example, toilet soap, laundry soap, translucent soap, high-lather, medicated, and so on.