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Designation: D 459 00

Standard Terminology Relating to

Soaps and Other Detergents1,2
This standard is issued under the fixed designation D 459; the number immediately following the designation indicates the year of
original adoption or, in the case of revision, the year of last revision. A number in parentheses indicates the year of last reapproval. A
superscript epsilon (e) indicates an editorial change since the last revision or reapproval.

1. Scope alkaline detergentunder detergent, see inorganic alkaline

1.1 This terminology covers soaps and other detergents. detergent.
alkyl benzene sulfonate (in the context of soaps and
2. Referenced Documents detergents)the detergent produced by sulfonating deter-
2.1 ASTM Standards: gent alkylate; any surface-active substance having the mo-
D 460 Test Methods for Sampling and Chemical Analysis lecular structure of a benzene sulfonic acid having as a ring
of Soaps and Soap Products3 substituent(s) an alkyl group(s) sufficiently large to confer
D 820 Test Methods for Chemical Analysis of Soaps Con- detergent properties.
taining Synthetic Detergents3 ampholytic surfactant or amphoteric surfactantsee surface-
D 2330 Test Method for Methylene Blue Active Sub- active agent.
stances4 anhydrous soapunder soap, see anhydrous soap.
D 2667 Test Method for Biodegradability of Alkylbenzene anionic detergentunder detergent, see anionic detergent.
Sulfonates5 artificially soiled cloth (sometimes called standard soiled
D 2960 Test Method for Controlled Laundering Test Using cloth)cloth soiled with one or more materials and used to
Naturally Soiled Fabrics and Household Appliances3 evaluate the effectiveness of detergents or washing equip-
D 4265 Guide for Evaluating Stain Removal Performance ment.
in Home Laundering3 available chlorine in cleaning compoundsthe oxidizing
D 5548 Guide for Evaluating Color Transfer or Color Loss power of chlorine present as hypochlorite or other oxidizing
of Dyed Fabrics in Laundering3 chlorine moieties in solution, expressed as chlorine of
equivalent weight 35.45, and as determined by thiosulfate
3. Terms and Definitions titration.
ABSan abbreviation for alkyl benzene sulfonate. Although bathroom soilthe soil composed of water insoluble, or
strictly speaking this might apply to any such compound, practically insoluble, materials or a mixture of these mate-
present practice is to use it for those containing branched rials, present on typical bathroom surfaces other than those
chains. (See LAS). of floors and toilets. A major component of this soil is the
acid-wash colorthe color developed in the separated acid insoluble precipitate, commonly referred to as soap scum,
when a sample of detergent alkylate is agitated with sulfuric that is deposited when soap is used in hard water.
acid under the conditions prescribed by the method. blended soapunder soap, see blended soap.
active ingredient of a synthetic detergentthe organic brightenersee fluorescent whitening agents (FWA).
surface-active material present in the detergent. brightening agentsee fluorescent whitening agents (FWA).
active oxygenin cleaning compounds, the oxidizing power buffer actionthe resistance of a solution to change in pH.
of oxygen present as peroxide or other active oxygen- buildera material added to a soap or synthetic detergent
containing moieties in solution expressed as oxygen (equiva- formulation that enhances or maintains the cleaning effi-
ciency of the surfactant, principally by inactivating water
lent weight 8.00).
hardness either by sequestration, precipitation, or ion ex-
change. Other functions, depending on the performance
This terminology is under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee D12 on Soaps capability of the builder compound used, include supplying
and Other Detergents and is the direct responsibility of Subcommittee D12.32 on
Nomenclature and Definitions. alkalinity, buffering to maintain alkalinity at effective clean-
Current edition approved June 10, 2000. Published July 2000. Originally ing levels, helping to keep removed soil in suspension, and
published as D 45937T. Last previous edition D 45998. emulsifying oily soils.
A Handbook of Industry Terms is available from the Soap and Detergent
Association, 475 Park Ave. S., New York, NY 10016. This is an essentially
built soapunder soap, see built soap.
nontechnical list of definitions of interest to the soap and detergent industry. It is cationic detergentunder detergent, see cationic detergent.
referenced here for information purposes only. chelating agenta sequestering or complexing agent that, in
Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Vol 15.04. aqueous solution, renders a metallic ion inactive through the
Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Vol 11.02.
Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Vol 11.05. formation of an inner ring structure with the ion.

Copyright ASTM, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959, United States.

D 459
cleaninga process of removing undesirable matter. HOOCCH2 CH2COOH
dry cleaningcleaning fabrics in a substantially nonaque- \ /
ous liquid medium. / \
wet cleaninga term used in the dry cleaning industry to HOOCCH2 CH2COOH
denote cleaning in an aqueous medium.
complexing agentsee sequestering agent. or any of its salts that may be specified, used as a sequestering agent.
detergencythe removal of soil, using a detergent. emulsifying agenta material that increases the stability of a
detergenta composition that removes soil. dispersion of one liquid in another.
anionic detergenta detergent that produces negatively emulsiona suspension of fine particles or globules of one or
charged colloidal ions in solution. more liquids in another liquid.
cationic detergenta detergent that produces positively emulsion cleanera composition which forms an emulsion
charged colloidal ions in solution. capable of dissolving or suspending soil.
dry-cleaning detergent (charge-type)a dry-cleaning deter- fabrica fibrous material containing natural or synthetic
gent used at a given percentage by volume that can pass fibers, or both, in yarn form, interlaced in various configu-
through a diatomaceous earth-coated filter in the dry- rations (woven, knitted, or nonwovens).
cleaning system without change in composition. fabric softenera laundry auxiliary product or laundry deter-
dry-cleaning detergent (dry-cleaning aid)a detergent that gent ingredient whose primary function is to give fabrics a
when added to a dry-cleaning solvent increases cleaning soft feel, smooth surface, or reduce static electricity, or a
effectiveness. combination thereof.
dry-cleaning detergent (non-charge type)any dry-cleaning fatty alcohol sulfatethe product obtained by treating a
detergent that is not of the charge type. one-chain fatty alcohol with a sulfonating agent, the major
inorganic alkaline detergenta water-soluble inorganic al- constituent being the half sulfuric acid ester of the fatty
kali or alkaline salt having detergent properties, but contain- alcohol or a salt thereof.
ing no soap or synthetics. fatty matter, freethe sum of the free rosin acids and free
nonionic detergenta detergent that produces electrically fatty acids plus the unsaponified and unsaponifiable fatty
neutral-colloidal particles in solution. matter.
synthetic detergenta detergent produced by chemical syn- fatty matter, totalfatty and rosin acids plus unsaponified
thesis and comprising an organic composition other than and unsaponifiable fatty matter. This fatty matter is usually
soap. isolated from an acidic 50/50 volume percent solution of
detergenta formulated cleaning composition, generally con- ethanol and water by extraction with petroleum ether, as per
taining one or more surfactant(s) as the essential compo- Test Method D 460 and Test Methods D 820.
nent(s). However, under detergent, see inorganic alkaline fatty matter, unsaponifiablefatty matter (other than acids)
detergent. Imprecisely, the terms detergent and surfactant that contain no saponifiable esters, such as fatty alcohols,
have been used interchangeably. and mineral oil.
dry-cleaning detergenta formulated composition added to fatty matter, unsaponifiedfatty matter containing saponifi-
the solvent bath in dry-cleaning operations to improve able esters, such as fatty oils, glycerides, and lanolin.
cleaning. fillera material added to soap or other detergent that does not
inorganic alkaline detergenta formulated cleaning com- improve its attractiveness or its effectiveness under the
position containing water-soluble alkali or alkaline salts, but conditions of use.
generally no surfactants. fluorescent whitening agents (FWA)(optical bleach, fluo-
detergent alkylatea mixture of alkylated aromatic hydro- rescent brightener) complex, organic molecules that adhere
carbons which when sulfonated yields an alkyl aryl sulfonate to fabrics as though they were dyes. Ultraviolet (UV) energy
detergent. The term usually refers to an alkyl benzene in is absorbed, converted, and emitted as visible blue light to
which the alkyl radical is a mixture of straight-chain and enhance fabric appearance and maintain whiteness or bright-
isomeric branched-chain groups, averaging 10 or more ness.
carbon atoms. foama mass of bubbles formed on liquids by agitation.
diphase metal cleanera composition which produces two foaming agenta material that increases the stability of a
phases in the cleaning tank, namely, a solvent layer and an suspension of gas bubbles in a liquid medium.
aqueous layer, which cleans by solvent action and emulsifi- FWA buildupthe course of change in fluorescence emission
cation. intensity or fluorescence shade or both, using specified
dispersing agenta material that increases the stability of a exhaust procedure:
suspension of particles in a liquid medium. (1) for a specified number of successive applications of
dry cleaningunder cleaning, see dry cleaning. FWA, or
dry-cleaning detergentunder detergent, see dry-cleaning (2) by varying the FWA concentration in a series of single
detergent. applications.
EDTAa term used to designate the compound ethylene FWA exhaust efficiencya measure of FWA substantivity as
diamine tetraacetic acid having the structural formula: expressed by:

D 459
(1) exhaust coefficient (E.C.)the ratio of FWA concen- or tends to make it, insoluble in water.
tration taken up by unprewhitened substrate, (wt of FWA hydrotropythe increase in solubility of a substance which is
(s)/wt of substrate) to that concentration of FWA remaining only slightly soluble in an aqueous system by the addition of
in the bath, (wt of FWA (b)/wt of bath) under specified a third substance. This third substance is called a hydro-
application conditions. trope or hydrotropic agent.
wt FWA ~s!/wt substrate inorganic alkaline detergentunder detergent, see inorganic
E.C. 5 wt FWA ~b!/wt bath alkaline detergent.
interfacial tensionthe force existing in a liquid-liquid phase
(2) percent exhaust (%E)the ratio of FWA on the interface that tends to diminish the area of the interface. This
substrate (wt FWA (s)) obtained under specified conditions force, which is analogous to the surface tension of liquid-
to the total FWA introduced in the original bath (wt FWA vapor interfaces, acts at each point on the interface in the
(o)). plane tangent at that point.
FWA fastness (on substrate)degree of change in fluores- LASan abbreviation for alkyl benzene sulfonate in which the
cence emission intensity or fluorescence shade or both, when alkyl radical is a straight chain.
a substrate containing FWA is exposed for a specific length lathera foam or froth when a detergent is agitated in water
of time to any specified natural or artificial environment. or other liquid.
FWA fluorescence emission intensitythe difference be- launderinga process intended to remove soils or stains, or
tween the Z (CIE standard observer) tri-stimulus value of a both, by washing in an aqueous detergent solution, that
sample treated with FWA and that of the untreated sample normally includes subsequent rinsing, extracting, and dry-
under standardized illumination conditions (D65) and view- ing. (See Guide D 5548.)
ing conditions (CIE approved geometry) for any specified laundry additivea separately added product that contributes
substrate and specimen presentation techniques. to the effectiveness of laundering or provides a specialized
FWA fluorescence shade(1) the perceived direction of the function, or both. (See Guide D 5548.)
shift in hue caused by the addition of an FWA to any
methylene blue active substances (MBAS)compounds that
specified near-white substrate (psychological definition), or
react with methylene blue, a cationic dye, causing it to
(2) the wave length at which an extension of the line
transfer from an aqueous solution to an immiscible organic
connecting the points on a CIE diagram corresponding to the
liquid upon equilibration under conditions such as those
chromaticity coordinates (measured under standardized illu-
described in Test Method D 2330. The reactive compounds
mination conditions (D65) (CIE approved geometry)) of the
are principally surfactants of the sulfonate type (RSO3)Na+,
untreated substrate to those of the treated substrate intersects
the sulfate ester type (ROSO3)Na+, and sulfated nonionics
the spectrum locus (psychophysical definition).
(REnOSO3)Na+. Soaps are not included among the surfac-
FWA formulation-dependent fluorescence emission inten- tants reactive to MBAS.
sity ratiothe fluorescence emission intensity obtained
neutral fatthe unsaponified and unsaponifiable matter that
with a given FWA on a specified substrate under specified
becomes included along with fatty acids in a diethyl ether
conditions in a designated formulation system relative to that
extract of samples under analysis for soap content, as
obtained with the same FWA under identical conditions in a
described in 25.2 of Test Method D 460.
different formulation.
neutral soapunder soap, see neutral soap.
FWA levelnessthe uniformity of distribution of FWA on
substrate when applied by a specified method. neutral white surfacea highly reflecting surface whose
FWA rate of exhaust indexthe time required for an FWA diffuse reflectance makes it a colorimetric match of a
bath of specified composition to be half-depleted by exhaus- nonselective reflecting white surface under specified view-
tion onto a particular substrate under specified conditions. ing conditions. (psychophysical definition).
FWA stability (in solution)degree of resistance of FWA in nonionic detergentunder detergent, see nonionic detergent.
solution under specified exposure condition to specific bath nonselectivity reflecting white surfacea surface that exhib-
additives. its equal, diffuse and high reflectance at all wavelengths in
FWA substrate selectivity ratiothe fluorescence emission the visible region [380 to 700 nm.] (physical definition).
intensity exhibited by a substrate, relative to that obtained on optical bleachsee fluorescent whitening agents (FWA).
a reference substrate, after treating these in a specified mixed optical whitening agentsee fluorescent whitening agents
load, using a given FWA, a designated formulation system, (FWA).
and specified conditions. penetrating agenta material that increases the penetration
home launderingthe process of cleaning and restoring of a liquid medium into a porous material.
textile materials to a serviceable condition using the washing percent active FWAthe absolute concentration of specified
and drying equipment commonly found in the home. FWA in (1) raw materials, or (2) finished product, expressed
hydrophilic (literally, water-loving)a descriptive term ap- in terms of specific structure or generic name, when known.
plied to the group or radical of a surfactant molecule that precisionthe degree of agreement of repeated measurements
makes or tends to make it soluble in water. of the same property, expressed in terms of dispersion of test
hydrophobic (literally, water-averting)a descriptive term results about the arithmetical mean result obtained by
applied to the moiety of a surfactant molecule that makes it, repetitive testing of a homogeneous sample under specified

D 459
conditions. The precision of a method is expressed quanti- acids, lanolin and its derivatives, fatty esters or alcohols, and
tatively as the standard deviation computed from the results similar agents. See fatty matter, free.
of a series of controlled determinations. soil (in reference to detergency)matter out of place.
preferred white surface(s)the particular surface which soil-redepositiondeposition of removed soil on a surface
under specified viewing conditions is considered whitest by during a cleaning process.
a statistically significant majority of representative observers soiled cloth see artificially soiled cloth.
in a series of paired comparisons performed at a specified staina local deposit of soil or visible discoloration on a
time and geographical locale (psychological definition). substrate.
rinse, v or na process or treatment in an aqueous solution for straight soap under soap, see straight soap.
the purpose of removing extraneous matter. (See Guide D substratethe soiled surface that is being cleaned.
5548.) sudsa foam or lather generated on or in a detergent solution.
rosin acidsacids derived from rosin (colophony) consisting sulfated oila newer term signifying the same type of
mainly of isomers of abietic acid (C20H 30O2) with small material as sulfonated oil.
amounts of hydroabietic acids (C20H32O2 and C20H28O2). sulfationthe introduction into an organic molecule of the
saponificationalkaline hydrolysis of esters to produce the sulfuric ester group (or its salts) OSO 3H, where the
component soaps and alcohols. sulfur is linked through an oxygen atom to the parent
SCASsee semicontinuous activated sludge, SCAS. molecule.
scouringa wet process of cleaning by chemical or mechani- sulfonated oila water dispersible or soluble surface active
cal means, or both. material obtained by treating an unsaturated or hydroxylated
semicontinuous activated sludge, SCASa term used to fatty oil, acid, or ester with an agent capable of sulfating or
designate a test procedure described in Test Method D 2667 sulfonating it at least partially.
that is used to confirm determinations of the degree of sulfonationthe introduction into an organic molecule of the
biodegradability of alkylbenzene sulfonates. sulfonic acid group (or its salts) SO 3H where the sulfur
sequestering agentany compound that, in aqueous solution, atom is joined to a carbon atom of the parent molecule.
combines with a metallic ion to form a water-soluble sulfuric anhydride (organically combined)that portion of
combination in which the ion is substantially inactive. sulfur, calculated as sulfur trioxide, bound through oxygen to
soapthe product formed by the saponification or neutraliza- carbon in an organic sulfate, or bound directly to carbon in
tion of fats, oils, waxes, rosins, or their acids with organic or an organic sulfonate.
inorganic bases. superfatted soaps under soap, see superfatted soap.
DISCUSSIONVarious descriptive adjectives are applied to the name
surface-active agent(surfactant) an organic compound that
soap to indicate certain characteristics, as follows: reduces the surface tension of a liquid, or the interfacial
(1) Method of manufacture, for example, boiled soap, cold-process tension between two liquids or between a liquid and a solid.
soap. It can also modify the properties of the liquid to which it is
(2) Physical form, for example, bar soap, chip soap, liquid soap, added, generally water.
powdered soap.
(3) A special property, for example, floating soap, low-titer soap, DISCUSSIONSurface-active agent molecules strongly concentrate at
milled soap, soft soap. surfaces (the surface of the medium, fabric, soil, at the walls of the
(4) A particular ingredient, for example, grit soap, tar soap. containing vessel, etc.) and thus create foam, dislodge soil, disperse
(5) A particular application, for example, automobile soap, dry- solids, emulsify oils, and cause water to wet surfaces.
cleaning soap, saltwater soap.
ampholytic or amphoteric (zwitterionic) surfactanta
anhydrous soapsoap, free of water and all other concomi- chemical compound capable of producing either (or both)
tants. positively or negatively charged surface active ions in an
aqueous solution. The charge carried on the ampholyticsur-
DISCUSSIONThe word anhydrous usually means free of water, but
in the soap industry it has the additional meaning stated. face active ions depends upon the pH of the solution but that
on amphoteric (zwitterionic) surfactants does not.
blended soap (for example, blended palm oil soap)a soap anionic surfactanta chemical compound that produces
in which more than half but not all of the fatty acid stock is negatively charged surface active ions in solution.
from the source stated. cationic surfactanta chemical compound that produces
built soapa mixture of soap and one or more builders positively charged surface active ions in solution.
containing not less than 50 % of anhydrous soap. nonionic surfactanta chemical compound that produces
neutral soap an essentially unbuilt soap substantially free uncharged surface active particles in solution.
from uncombined alkali or fatty matter. surface tensionthe force existing in a liquid-vapor phase
soap powder a mixture in powdered form of soap and one interface that tends to diminish the area of the interface. This
or more alkaline detergents, but composed principally of the force acts at each point on the interface in the plane tangent
latter. at that point.
straight soap (for example, straight palm oil soap)a soap surfactanta contraction of the term surface-active agent.
in which the fatty acid stock is solely from the source stated. syndeta contraction of the term synthetic detergent. Now
superfatted soapa toilet soap containing any one or more used to characterize personal washing bars containing sur-
of the following: unsaponified oils, fats (triglycerides), fatty factants in combination with soap.

D 459
synthetic detergenta detergent containing surfactants other manganese. The degree of hardness is calculated in grains of
than soap. Historically, the term differentiated the first calcium carbonate (CaCO3) per gallon (gpg) or parts per
detergents from the earlier soap-based detergents. million (ppm), sometimes expressed as milligrams per litre
synthetic detergentunder detergent, see synthetic detergent. (mgL). One grain per gpg of CaCO3 equals 17.1 ppm or
titer (pronounced teter) (of fatty acids)the maximum mgL. The calcium/magnesium ratio of the hardness minerals
temperature achieved during the solidification of fatty acids, is also expressed as calcium carbonate. Water essentially free
which have been cooled below the melting point by a of calcium and magnesium is described as soft; if appre-
standardized procedure. ciable amounts of both minerals are present, it is called hard.
top loadera vertically oriented agitation machine which is In the United States the categories of hardness, as defined by
used for home laundry. the U.S. Geological Survey,6 and the Ca/Mg ratio, are:
unsaponifiable mattersee fatty matter, unsaponifiable. Moderately Very
Soft Hard
unsaponified mattersee fatty matter, unsaponified. Hard Hard
Grains per gallon 0.03.5 3.67.0 7.110.5 10.6+
wash, v or na cleaning process carried out in an aqueous Parts per million or 0.060 61120 121180 over 180
medium. milligrams per
washable (as applied to a garment)a term applied to a litre
Ca/Mg ratioA 4:1 3:1 2:1
garment that will be restored to wearability (Discussion 1) A
Calculated from data in Public Water Supplies of the 100 Largest Cities in the
by laundering according to an acceptable (Discussion 2) United States, 1962.6
procedure in the absence of irreparable damage. See discussions in Test Method D 2960, Guide D 4265, and Guide D 5548.

DISCUSSIONWearability includes consideration of size (stretch or water-breakfailure of water to maintain a continuous film
shrinkage), appearance (color, freedom from stain or dinginess, or both, on metallic, vitreous, or similar surfaces on withdrawing
etc.), and odor (some synthetics have been found to retain perspiration from clean water.
odors, etc). Wearability also includes considerations of utilization; thus wet cleaning under cleaning, see wet cleaning.
a pair of overalls used by a painter cannot be judged by the same wetting agenta material that increases the spreading of a
criteria as a frilly blouse. liquid medium on a surface.
DISCUSSIONAcceptability procedure refers to the requirement that
whiteness-retentioncomparative whiteness of original and
the instructions given by the detergent manufacturer and the garment
manufacturer and the appliance manufacturer shall be followed within cleaned fabric.
reasonable limits, taking due note of local water hardness, etc.

water hardnessa term used to describe a quality of water 6

Durfor, C. N., and Becker, E., Public Water Supplies of the 100 Largest Cities
arising from the presence of dissolved mineral salts, usually in the United States, 1962, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply, Paper 1812,
calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) and sometimes iron and Washington, DC 1964.

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