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Before gaining information regarding TFM, let’s have a glance how soap is formed. Soap is a product formed by the process of saponification which includes a reaction between alkali and oil.

Oil(any oil) + alkali(NaOH) a soap + glycerin

Glycerin is formed as a by-product and is present in the soap itself which gives moisturizing property to the soap. In commercial soap, glycerin is removed whereas in hand made soap glycerin is retained. With umpteen number of soap bars flooding the market, choosing the right soap can become a confusing task. This is where TFM or Total Fatty Matter comes into play.

TFM means total fatty matter is one of the most important characteristics describing the quality of soap and it is always specified in commercial transactions. TFM is usually associated with hardness and lower quality of soaps. TFM specifies the range of fatty acids present in the soap.

E.g. oleic acid, palmitic acid, linoleic acid which are produced during saponification process, contribute to lathering and washing properties of the soaps. The chemical characteristics of soap viz moisture content, total fatty acids (TFM), pH, free alkali, and percent chloride. They depend on several factors like,

  • The strength and purity of alkali,

  • The kind of oil used,

  • Completeness of saponification and

Let’s find out how much TFM you should be looking for while purchasing your soaps. View this video and grasp the idea.


There are two types of soaps in the market:

  • Toilet soaps

  • bathing bars

Toilet soap often contains a higher quantity of fatty material(60-80%) whereas bathing bars have lesser fatty material(40%). Drugs and cosmetic department maintains the quality and testing parameters for soap. Based on TFM, soaps are categorized into Grade I(75% or above), Grade II (65 – 75%) and Grade III(60% - 65%).

TFM and grade labelling should be mentioned in the toilet soap which is a mandatory one. If this labelling is not disclosed then it’s a bathing bar. If TFM is below 60% then it is not suitable for bathing.


In hand made soaps, TFM is 60-75%. This range does not mean that its not a quality soap. TFM of hand made soaps are reduced mainly because of the following reasons,

  • Usage of herbs, aloe vera and milk reduces the TFM whereas these are not used in commercial soap.

  • Extra essential oils, perfumes, fragrances are added in soap making which are not involved in the saponification process. Instead they remain as oil itself in the soap and give moisturizing effect. These oils decrease TFM.

  • Water is also added in the soap making but it is not evaporated fully. Traces of water remain in the soap which also decreases TFM.

  • Certain herbs, milk, aloe vera are also added in soap making which also decreases TFM of hand made soaps.

Thus TFM is used for categorizing the soap. The TFM quantity describes the quality of a soap. It adds moisturizing properties to the product, leaving your skin deeply-cleansed, yet soft and supple. To obscure more information and clarification related to soap making subscribe our youtube channel (sacred fig). Be connected to reach the sky!!!

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