Washing - an exciting history

The first historical reports of the production of soap are from the time of the Assyrians - approximately 5,000 years ago. They made a brew of wood ash - called Potash - consisting of cooked vegetable or animal fats. The high-grade alkaline in the ash caused the fat to separate into soap, which then floated on the top after the fluid cooled down. The soap was then skimmed off the top.

With the discovery of soda and caustic soda, it was possible to produce soap of today's quality. These were excellent detergents. They cleaned by taking away the surface tension of the water, and getting under the film of dirt. The dirt was then washed away in the soap solution.

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Natural soap is extremely lime sensible. It deposits as lime soap with hard water on the fabric. However, in the 1920s the quantity of vegetable and animal fats was insufficient in matching the increasing needs of the technical world. People tried to copy natural soaps by producing them chemically. The result was not economical. Only in the 1950s did it become economically viable to produce a synthetic and raw material with superior washing results. This completely changed the market of detergents.

However the raw material tetraprolylenebenzene sulfonate had a branched paraffinical side chain that made it extremely harmful to the environment. Rivers could not biologically degrade the residual materials of this detergent. Therefore, in 1964, the detergent was completely banned. At this time the production of the environmentally friendly, linear alkylbenzene sulfonate, LAS, began.

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