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  #1  
Old 05-22-2003, 01:31 PM
McDeath_the_Mad McDeath_the_Mad is offline
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Can you actually make soap out of human fat?

Just like in "Fight Club", can human fat be used to make soap? (from a chemical point of view, not morral).

Also, if it could be made, could it legally be sold?

MtM
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  #2  
Old 05-22-2003, 01:37 PM
raygirvan raygirvan is offline
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Yes: chemically, any fat + caustic soda = soap.

Sold? I don't know.
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  #3  
Old 05-22-2003, 01:46 PM
Q.E.D. Q.E.D. is offline
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Why wouldn't it be legal to sell it, as long as the fat was obtained legally, e.g. from liposuction with the patient's permission?
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  #4  
Old 05-22-2003, 02:06 PM
Mr. Excellent Mr. Excellent is offline
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Q.E.D.: Health reasons?

I propose an SDMB test case - McDeath will provide the fat, Raygirvan will process it (since he seems to have the knowledge here), and QED can try to sell it. I will observe. and laugh. mainly laugh. With, perhaps, a bit of vomiting.
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Old 05-22-2003, 02:10 PM
Q.E.D. Q.E.D. is offline
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What health reasons? It's certainly no more unhealthy than using any other animal fat. Granted, Joe Consumer might be squeamish about knowing where his soap came from, but what he doesn't know won't hurt him.
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  #6  
Old 05-22-2003, 02:31 PM
racinchikki racinchikki is offline
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Of course it's possible; there's a body in the Mummer Museum in Philadelphia to prove it - she was extremely fat, and was buried in soil of just the right properties to convert her remains into soap.

I wouldn't, personally, like to break off her soapy old leg and hop in the shower, but my distaste for the idea doesn't change the chemical reaction that took place.
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  #7  
Old 05-22-2003, 02:34 PM
andymurph64 andymurph64 is offline
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Is McDeath curious or is there a more practical reason for his question....

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Old 05-22-2003, 02:35 PM
racinchikki racinchikki is offline
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I apologize; it's not the Mummer Museum, it's the Mutter Museum, and you can learn more about the Soap Lady here. (Link goes to the only site I could find that actually spoke about her, rather than mentioning her in passing as something that could be ogled at the museum.)
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  #9  
Old 05-22-2003, 02:37 PM
dantheman dantheman is offline
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[The Mutter Museum (with an umlaut over the u, so it's Moooooter) is a great place for oddities.]
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  #10  
Old 05-22-2003, 02:44 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Re: Can you actually make soap out of human fat?

Quote:
Originally posted by McDeath_the_Mad
Also, if it could be made, could it legally be sold?
AFAIK, which admittedly isn't terribly far, human adipose tissue is considered biohazardous and infectious medical waste, (even if it's not shown to be infected) and is subject to strict regulation regarding its disposal. Ordinarily it must be incinerated. There may be some sort of loophole that would allow importation of such a soap from somewhere else, but I would be surprised.
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  #11  
Old 05-22-2003, 02:52 PM
raygirvan raygirvan is offline
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Re the Soap Lady: in this case wer're talking about adipocere, which is soap-like, not soap per se. A quick web search found a site entirely devoted to the adipocere phenomenon (not for the squeamish).
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  #12  
Old 05-22-2003, 02:55 PM
Frank #2 Frank #2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by racinchikki
I apologize; it's not the Mummer Museum, it's the Mutter Museum
That makes a little more sense. I couldn't figure out what a fat lady turning into soap had to do with a New Year's Day parade in Philly.
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  #13  
Old 05-22-2003, 03:15 PM
DaCheat DaCheat is offline
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Re: Can you actually make soap out of human fat?

I think McDeath is wondering what to do about all the bodies he's got collected in his basement. You sicko!!!
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  #14  
Old 05-22-2003, 03:24 PM
McDeath_the_Mad McDeath_the_Mad is offline
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Welcome to the SDMB DaCheat!

And a "friend" asked me to look into it.

MtM
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  #15  
Old 05-22-2003, 03:29 PM
Headcoat Headcoat is offline
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So is modern commercially sold soap made of animal fats? If so, what animals? And what do vegans use for soap?
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  #16  
Old 05-22-2003, 03:44 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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To some degree or another, yeah, apparently. Just about all the major soap manufacturers use a mixture of beef and pork tallow (or beef tallow and pork lard, if you want to get persnickety) Ivory Soap's website says it's made of both vegetable oils and animal fats. You can make animal-friendly soap out of vegetable oils, coconut, cocoa butter, hemp seed, etc. like my good friends at www.austinsoaps.com, shameless plug. At least that's what they say they make it out of.
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  #17  
Old 05-22-2003, 03:46 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Um, make that www.austinsoap.com
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  #18  
Old 05-22-2003, 04:07 PM
papergirl papergirl is offline
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Whooo! A question I can answer!

Soapmaker here. Yep, if you had human fat (ugh), you could make soap with it. Any fat will work, some fats not as nicely as others. I've met soapers who made alligator-fat soaps and bear-fat soaps, for instance.

Headcoat: Some evil corporate soap is made from animal fats or an animal/vegetable fat blend. I believe rendered pig fat is most common. You can buy lard at the grocery store and whip up a big ol' batch of lard soap if you like.

Alternatively, there are a LOT of pure vegetable oil soaps out there. Not sure what is available in the ECS aisle of WalMart (although anything labeled as castile soap should be pure olive oil soap), but any health food store will carry a nice supply of vegetarian-friendly soaps.

I typically use only vegetable oils--coconut, palm, and olive are the basics. Most soapers I know do the same, although a few incorporate tallow into some or all their soaps.

HTH
karol
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  #19  
Old 05-22-2003, 04:14 PM
kanicbird kanicbird is online now
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bodypoet where do you get coconut oil? Is it food grade? I want to make some popcorn in coconut oil but can't find any.
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  #20  
Old 05-22-2003, 04:18 PM
Dogface Dogface is offline
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This is why I prefer to use "Castile soap" when I can. The majority of commercial soaps leave me itchy. Castile soap doesn't.

I'm thinking of just making up a big batch some time myself (ah, the joys of having bought a couple of acres to call my own).
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  #21  
Old 05-22-2003, 04:42 PM
Zoe Zoe is offline
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My hairdresser has a conditioner made from placenta. Does anyone remember SNL's "ad" for Placenta Helper?

When I was growing up some people used lard to clean their faces, so I am told.
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  #22  
Old 05-22-2003, 04:57 PM
Incubus Incubus is offline
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While we're using human fat for useful things, how practical is human fat for the manufacture of candles? How about cooking oil?
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  #23  
Old 05-22-2003, 04:58 PM
bcflyer bcflyer is offline
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What about that liquid soap? I'm talking the real cheap industrial stuff that you'd find around an office sink? There are a couple of righteous vegans on my floor that use that stuff. I wonder if they know what's in it?
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  #24  
Old 05-22-2003, 06:50 PM
Duckster Duckster is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by dantheman
[The Mutter Museum (with an umlaut over the u, so it's Moooooter) is a great place for oddities.]
So is this place.

<< Adjusts tinfoil hat ...>>

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  #25  
Old 05-23-2003, 12:21 AM
Barking Dog Barking Dog is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Incubus
While we're using human fat for useful things, how practical is human fat for the manufacture of candles? How about cooking oil?
That would be a no on the cooking oil. For one, oil isn't made from animal fat. It's made from things like olives and such-like. Besides, that would constitute cannibalism. Would you want your food to taste of humans?
But yes, I suppose you could make tallow candles out of human fat. Tho I imagine they wouldn't be very good candles. I think the stuff is a bit too watery. Beef tallow is much thicker. Take it from a candlemaker.
But like soap, production would be impractical. Even with alot of willing donors, there wouldn't be enough raw material to keep up production for long. Not to mention it would be illegal. As said before, human fat is considered a bio-hazard and by law must be disposed of properly. While the end-product wouldn't pose a health risk, the raw fat would. I don't know what the difference between that and other animal fats, but I'm sure there's good reason it's considered hazardous waste.
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  #26  
Old 05-23-2003, 12:53 AM
Ender_Will Ender_Will is offline
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All legal, moral, health issues aside, how well would human fat soap work? Better because, uhhh, it's from the same stuff? (which seems pretty hokey, since it's supposed to take off dirt, from the outside) Worse because of, uhhh, certain fat properties? (which I don't really have anything to elaborate on, but wanted to continue the pattern)
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  #27  
Old 05-23-2003, 05:06 AM
IcicleFuzz IcicleFuzz is offline
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I have heard that the Nazis made soap from the fat of the prisoners bodies in their concentration camps. Does anyone know if this is true or not?
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  #28  
Old 05-23-2003, 05:56 AM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Barking Dog
...Even with alot of willing donors, there wouldn't be enough raw material to keep up production for long...
Not enough human fat available? Look around the Midwest, pal.
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  #29  
Old 05-23-2003, 05:58 AM
andy_fl andy_fl is offline
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FAT + NaOH (Caustic Soda) ----> Soap + Glycerin (The soap obtained by this is not good for the skin). This reaction requires heat.

Common method for soap therefore is

FAT + KOH (Potassium Hydroxide) ---> Soap + Glycerin.

Note that Glycerin is a by-product (or a product depending if the soap plant is selling to an explosives plant).

Any FAT is good enough to make Soap. Cocunut oil soaps give Sodium Palmitate. Stearate is also from vegetable origin.

The soap I think will pose no biohazard. It will chemically degrade all organisms.

Someone asked for coconut cooking oil - try looking for it in a Thai / Indian Grocery Store.
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  #30  
Old 05-23-2003, 06:16 AM
curly chick curly chick is offline
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Fat + casutic = soap

Ester + alkali base = metal salt of the ester = soap.

Soap is usually a sodium saldt of a long chain fatty acid such as octadecanoic acid.

This fatty acid is naturally present in animal fat, from which the first soaps were made.
As long as this fatty acid is a component of human fat, there is no chemical reason to suppose that soap from human fat would perform any differently than soap from animal fat.

As for cooking:
Oils for cooking which are derived from plant material are usually in liquid form at room temperature, whereas those derived from animal sources are solid at room temperature and are generally called fats.
People cook with lard and dripping which are solid animal fats, so if you had a quantity of whatever pig fat they use to make lard and treated your human fat the same way, you would probably get a solid fat that you could use for cooking.

Chemically, I dont see why not
Personally, no thankyouverymuch
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  #31  
Old 05-23-2003, 06:39 AM
SentientMeat SentientMeat is offline
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An excellent BBC series called "Hollywood Science" tried this recently. They couldn't get hold of any human fat despite numerous phone calls so used pig fat as well, which is pretty much indistinguishable considering pigs' anatomy and diet. The result was a soap which worked but did not later up anywhere near as well as the cheapest supermarket brand.
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  #32  
Old 05-23-2003, 06:40 AM
SentientMeat SentientMeat is offline
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Erratum: lather up, not "later up".
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  #33  
Old 05-23-2003, 07:03 AM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is offline
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Quote:
I have heard that the Nazis made soap from the fat of the prisoners bodies in their concentration camps. Does anyone know if this is true or not?
Some of the more twisted Nazis did experiment with human fat and soap. These were the same guys who made a human-skin lampshade or two. However, it was not a widespread thing, only a few attempts at one experimental camp. But while axxagerated, the stories have more than fiction behind them.
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  #34  
Old 05-23-2003, 07:30 AM
curly chick curly chick is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by SentientMeat
An excellent BBC series called "Hollywood Science" tried this recently. They couldn't get hold of any human fat despite numerous phone calls so used pig fat as well, which is pretty much indistinguishable considering pigs' anatomy and diet. The result was a soap which worked but did not later up anywhere near as well as the cheapest supermarket brand.
Sounds like an interesting programme. How did they make their soap?

Originally soap was just fat and alkali.
Now soap is fat and alkali and hard water softeners and soft watrer hardeners and fagrances and and foaming agents and moisturisers and any number of extra additives to enhance performance.

If you took your human generated fatty acids and used them as the fat source in a commercial soap factory, adding all the other bits and pieces and performance enhancers, the results of the experiment would surely be far closer.
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  #35  
Old 05-23-2003, 07:38 AM
An Arky An Arky is offline
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Free liposuction at Procter & Gamble!
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  #36  
Old 05-23-2003, 07:58 AM
APB APB is online now
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I'm not sure I would describe Hollywood Science as 'excellent', although it's a good format and is always entertaining.

IMHO, their item about soap was one of their less interesting efforts, as it is not at all surprising that you can make soap from fat. To be fair, they were actually trying to test the claim that human fat makes better soap than other types of fat and they came to the very predictable conclusion that it is all the additives that makes the real difference.

They have a couple of websites, although they don't discuss the soap experiment in detail.

http://www.open2.net/hollywoodscience2/#

http://www.open2.net/science/hollywo...ence/index.htm
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  #37  
Old 05-23-2003, 08:28 AM
Scumpup Scumpup is offline
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Nazis may have experimented with making soap from human fat, but the idea was discarded pretty quickly as economically unworkable. Go visit any website about the Holocaust and look at the pictures of the people from the camps. Not exactly a corpulent group, are they? The Nazis didn't believe it was necessary to feed the people they were going to exterminate. Neither did they find it needful to feed the people they were using as slave labor. IOW, it was economically unsound to try to make soap from their remains because there wasn't much raw material there with which to work.
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  #38  
Old 05-23-2003, 09:58 AM
bibliophage bibliophage is offline
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A thread from last year that may be of interest: Nazis making soap from Jewish people: myth?
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