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Make Soap Out of Guava Leaf Extract

for a Science Investigatory Project

Guava leaves contain phytochemicals that are astringent, allowing them


to tone and tighten your skin. Guava leaves can also protect against
ultraviolet radiation, a "major environmental factor" in "skin wrinkle formation
and hyperpigmentation." The American Journal of Chinese Medicine even
found that guava leaves' anti-inflammatory properties can be helpful in
treating acne.

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Experiment
To make it even easier to ace your science investigatory project, we've
deconstructed this chemistry experiment into step-by-step instructions. For
the full video tutorial, be sure to check out the end of this article. Since the
video has been made publicly available online, you can go right ahead and
use it for your science fair or project — no need to ask permission!

Safety First!
This experiment will involve working with both sodium hydroxide and
extremely high temperatures, so it will require safety precautions and
definitely adult supervision. This guide will cover the important safety
measures, but you can also read more about sodium hydroxide safety.
What You'll Need
If the below information seems a little intimidating to you, you can try making
hard soap instead of liquid soap. It's a little less involved, requires fewer
ingredients and equipment, and is just as good as a science investigatory
project. For details on that, check our full guide.
Ingredients:
 about 50 guava leaves
 16 oz. water
 4 oz. sodium hydroxide (NaOH), also known as lye or caustic soda
 20 oz. olive oil
 8 oz. coconut oil
 a few spoonfuls of lavender-scented oil (or any other scent you prefer)
 a few drops of food coloring, any color you like
 vinegar (in case the lye comes in contact with skin)

Equipment:

 stove or other strong heat source, preferably an outdoor stove


 large pot
 three small containers (make sure they can all withstand boiling water!)
 gloves
 safety mask
 safety goggles
 whisk or stick blender
 strainer
 kitchen scale
 funnel
 empty bottle or soap dispenser
Make sure that none of the equipment you use contains aluminum, tin, or
zinc because lye will corrode all of those metals — and potentially produce
highly flammable (read: dangerous) hydrogen gas. Stainless steel would be
ideal. The sodium hydroxide may also produce fumes, so as much as
possible, this experiment should take place outdoors or under a fume hood.
If that isn't an option, make sure the room you use is well-ventilated (switch
on the kitchen fan and open every window you can).

The following guide will make enough soap to fill a bottle of hand soap, so
adjust your proportions accordingly if you want to make more.

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Science Experiment
Step 1Extract Guava Leaf Essence
Bring approximately 8 oz. of water (weigh it out using your scale) to a boil in
your pot, then add about 50 guava leaves. Keep the water at boiling
temperature, and stir occasionally.

Step 2Strain Out Guava Leaves


After half an hour, take your pot off the stove, strain out the guava leaves,
and transfer the guava leaf extract to a container. You can use a sieve or a
pair of utensils.

Image by Ai-ni Bautista/YouTube

Step 3Prepare Your Flavors


At this stage, you're going to prepare a mixture of water, oil, and your chosen
scent and food coloring (you're going to add the sodium hydroxide to this
later, making your soap). The ratios we've provided here are based on a
recipe that Ambra, a soap-making hobbyist from Iceland, posted on her blog,
but you might want to tweak it with some trial-and-error to get the soap to the
consistency you prefer most.
They Say Oil & Water Don't Mix
It's true. Oil and water don't mix — they're immiscible together. Heck, most
definitions of "immiscible" even use oil and water as their illustration. That's
why you usually need a chemical emulsifying agent to completely combine
oil and water, but heating your oil-water mixture, which is our next step, will
achieve a similar effect.
Add about 8 oz. of coconut oil and 20 oz. of olive oil to 8 oz. of water in your
pot. For soap-making, measure all your reagents by weight, and not volume,
because the density of different oils can vary significantly. The mixture
should immediately begin to form micelles, bubble-like concentrations of oil,
especially at the surface.
Cover and bring the mixture to a boil, removing the lid to stir occasionally.
Your oil-water mixture should be bubbling from the heat, but better
combined than before.

Stir, then add the guava extract. Stir again, and add scented oil, and then the
food coloring. We suggest adding the food coloring in small doses while
stirring, as it takes a while for the coloring to disperse and arrive at a settled
color. Throughout this process, keep your mixture at a boil. Boil for 30 more
minutes.

Step 4Saponification
Saponification is a chemical reaction between an ester and an alkali,
producing a carboxylate ion and an alcohol. It's also what we're about to do
next! That's because saponification, in less scientific terms, is soap-making
(the linguistic root of "saponification" is sapo, the Latin word for soap). The
coconut and olive oil we're using contain esters, and the sodium hydroxide is
an alkali. These react to form a carboxylate salt compound — soap!
Ready, Set, Saponify
Put on your goggles, gloves, and mask. Adding the sodium hydroxide to the
mixture will cause the temperature of your mixture to skyrocket to
temperatures of up to 200º F, according to the Soap Queen's safety guide.
It's not just the sheer heat of your mixture that's now dangerous. That spike
in temperature means some water particles are going to reach boiling
temperature, and that rising steam will carry with it trace amounts of
unreacted sodium hydroxide, which is poisonous. If any sodium hydroxide
makes contact with skin, pour vinegar over the affected area to neutralize the
burning alkali.

Using your kitchen scale, weigh out 4 oz. of sodium hydroxide. Slowly and
carefully add it to your mixture in very small amounts. Keep your face away
from the mouth of the pot as you add the sodium hydroxide to avoid inhaling
the fumes.
Step 5Stir
When the mixture is no longer producing steam, turn off the stove and
remove the pot from the heat. Allow it to cool slightly, then stir with your
electric blender. Stir for fifteen minutes if stirring by hand. The mixture will
behave somewhat like egg whites, foaming up and thickening as your stir.

After stirring, allow the mixture to cool and settle into a more liquid form. If
you would like a cleaner-looking soap, you can skim off the foam from the
surface. Transfer your finished liquid soap to a bottle or dispenser using a
funnel.

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