Is fels Naptha biodegradable? (5 ingredients of fels Naptha soap)

This article shall look into the biodegradation of fels naptha.

It also shall cover other areas such as:

  • The ingredients of fels naptha soap.
  • Types of soaps.
  • Properties of soaps.
  • Applications of different types of soaps.
  • Eco-friendliness of fels naptha soap.

Is fels naptha biodegradable?

Yes, fels naptha is partially biodegradable as it contains organic and some synthetic chemicals which are not susceptible to microbial degradation.

Fels naptha contains organic substances such as coconut acid, tallow acid, and glycerin.

These organic substances are biodegradable.

However, Fels naptha soap contains chemicals such as sodium palmate, sodium chloride, titanium dioxide, and talc which are not susceptible to microbial degradation

Biodegradation occurs in organic substances which are produced from plants and animals.


Biodegradation is the breakdown of organic matter by water, oxygen, light, radiation, bacteria, and fungi.

Biodegradation breaks down naturally occurring substances into small biomass and other products such as methane and carbon dioxide gases.

Some of the biomass becomes part of the soil, enriching the soil fertility, while some are assimilated by the bacteria and fungi to be used in their body systems.

Bacteria and fungi produce different products on biodegradation, depending on their enzymes or the chemical constituents of the substances being degraded.

Adhesives are also broken down into small matters depending on their chemical structure.

Another determinant for the products of biodegradation is the type of biodegradation that is taking place.

Aerobic biodegradation: this involves the breakdown of substances by bacteria or fungi in the presence of oxygen.

The gas produced in aerobic biodegradation is carbon dioxide.

Anaerobic biodegradation: this is the breakdown of substances in the absence of oxygen.

The bacteria or fungi use other gases like methane in place of oxygen.

The gas produced in this type of biodegradation is mainly methane which is used by the microorganisms for respiration.

Aerobic biodegradation occurs at a much faster rate than anaerobic respiration, on the other hand, anaerobic respiration is more efficient and thorough than aerobic respiration.

What is Fels naptha?

Fels naptha is a type of laundry soap produced by Henkel industries. It is primarily used for laundry. It helps in the pre-treatment of clothing stains and also as a remedy for skin irritants such as poison ivy.

It is effective against the urushiol allergen which is found in poison ivy.

Applications of fels naptha soap.

Fels naptha was used for the following purposes:

  • It is used for pretreatment of stains such as chocolate, baby formula, and makeup before laundry.
  • It was used in the treatment of contact dermatitis caused by urushiol allergen in poison ivy.
  • It is an important ingredient in DIY laundry detergents.
  • It is mixed with neatsfoot oil for tanning animal skins.

Ingredients of fels naptha soap.

Fels naptha is made up of components such as sodium tallowate, sodium cocoate, sodium palmate kernelate, and sodium palmate.

Sodium palmate kernelate and sodium palmate are obtained from palm oil, sodium tallowate is a salt acquired from tallow animal fat and sodium cocoate is a cleansing agent.

Sodium palmate.

This is a salt acquired from palm acid. It comes as a white paste or granules. It is acquired from the fatty acids of the palm.

It is used in soaps as a surfactant that gently cleanses the skin.

Sodium tallowate.

This is a salt obtained by reacting sodium hydroxide or sodium carbonate with tallow

Tallow is a type of beef or mutton fat that is primarily made of triglycerides.

Sodium tallowate binds with lye alkali in soaps, it saponifies the lye alkali making it non-irritating to the skin.

It works as a surfactant by lowering the surface tension of water, helping the soap to bind with dirt.

Sodium cocoate.

This is an additive derived from coconut oil. It helps in cleaning the skin naturally.

Pentasodium Pentetate.

This is an organic chelating agent that is used to bind to metal ions in the soap.

It, therefore, helps in removing toxic metal ions from the skin.

Tetrasodium etidronate.

This is a chemical derived from phosphonic acid.

It is added to oils and caustic soda during soap formation to prevent soaps from forming scum and stains.

It is also formed from etidronic acid, which is a very common chelating and sequestering agent in soaps.

Coconut acid.

Coconut acid is a type of fatty acid derived from coconut oil. It is used in soaps because it has antimicrobial properties and helps in the treatment of acne, cellulitis, folliculitis, and athlete’s foot.

Palm acid.

Palm acid is derived from palm oil. It is made up of lauric fatty acid, myristic fatty acid, and oleic fatty acid.

The fatty acids help in creating foaming soap, as well as producing soft soap.


Glycerin is a molecule that is central to the synthesis of lipids.

It is used as a humectant in soaps and other cosmetics.

A humectant is a substance that helps in keeping the skin moist and healthy, removing skin dryness and paleness.

Titanium dioxide.

Titanium dioxide is a natural mineral that is used in cosmetics and soaps as a whitener and opacifier. 

It is also used as a lubricant in soaps, making the soap soft and easily foaming.


Sorbitol is used in soaps and cosmetics as a humectant to maintain skin moisture. It increases thickness in lotions and soaps.


Talc is a natural mineral that is used in soaps to provide silkiness and softness. It makes it more creamy and improves its foaming.

Sodium chloride.

Sodium chloride is also called table salt. It is added to the soap to control its viscosity.

It also acts as a thickener making the soap a gel.

The sodium and chloride ions in the sodium chloride interact with opposite charges in surfactants to form micelles.

However, too much salt in soaps leads to salting out, making the surfactant watery; less thick.

Acid orange and acid yellow 73.

Acid orange and acid yellow 73 are used as coloring dyes to give the soap its characteristic color.

Purified water.

Water is used in this soap to act as a solvent for water-soluble ingredients.

It is also a medium that keeps the skin moist and healthy. It hydrates the skin.

What are the types of soaps?

There are two main categories of soaps, or rather detergents.

  • Soapy detergents.
  • Soapless detergents.

Soapy detergents.

These are detergents that are derived from natural fats and acids.

The fatty acids are reacted with a base such as sodium hydroxide to precipitate soaps in a process called saponification.

They are sold as bars and are popularly known as bar soaps.

Soapy detergents react with metals in hard water to form scum which stains fabrics.

Scum formed by soapy detergents can also lead to pipe blockage and breakage.

Soapy detergents are biodegradable and therefore they are eco-friendly.

Soapless detergents.

They are types of soaps that are formed from crude oil reacting with sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide 

These kinds of soaps are popularly known as just detergents. They are mostly found in liquid and powder form.

These detergents are preferred over soapy detergents because:

  • They can be used with hard water since they do not form scum that stains fabrics.
  • They perform well when mixed with a solution containing sulfuric acid.

Soapless detergents have the following disadvantages.

  • Some soapless detergents are non-biodegradable.
  • They can react to the skin causing irritation and allergies.
  • Biodegradable detergents consume a lot of oxygen in the water bodies which is dangerous to aquatic life.

Is fels naptha soap eco-friendly?

Yes, Fels naptha soap is eco-friendly. It does not produce any toxic chemicals to the environment.

It mainly consists of organic materials which can be degraded by microorganisms although its biodegradation is limited by chemicals such as titanium dioxide which is non-biodegradable.

Is Fels naptha soap toxic?

According to an article on the uses of Fels naptha soap, titanium dioxide is a chemical component that is highly irritating to the skin and eyes and is also said to be carcinogenic.

The use of naptha in soaps was highly criticized and naphtha has since been removed from the soap recipe. Naptha has been associated with cancer and skin irritation.

Talc is said to have toxic properties. It has been categorized as a potential carcinogenic.


This article has addressed the biodegradability of Fels naptha soap.

It has also looked into other areas such as.

  • Types of soaps.
  • Components of Fels naptha soap.
  • The eco-friendliness of fels naptha soap.
  • The toxicity of Fels naptha soap.

For any questions or comments please use the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): is Fels naptha biodegradable?

Is fels naptha soap toxic?

The use of Fels naptha was brought to the world’s attention in 2007 because naptha, the soap ingredient, was said to have caused skin and eyes irritation to the users.

Does Fels-Naptha help poison ivy?

Yes, Fels naptha soap when applied on the place of contact with the poison ivy, removes the rashes and keeps the skin dry to avoid further allergy.

Can you use Fels-Naptha on your body?

No, Fels naptha contains titanium dioxide which is carcinogenic and a skin irritant.


ALL HOMESTEADING. Fels naptha soap: Here’s what it is and how to use it.

Retrieved from:

Henkel. “Purex Laundry Detergent and Fabric Care Products”. Retrieved 2016-09-28.

Neugebauer, Judith M. (1990). “Detergents: An overview”. Methods in Enzymology. 182: 239–253. doi:10.1016/0076-6879(90)82020-3

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