TFM Value Of Soap : Why it is important?

TFM, Total fatty matter is one of the most important characteristics describing the quality of soap and it is always specified in commercial transactions. It is defined as the total amount of fatty matter, mostly fatty acids, that can be separated from a sample after splitting with mineral acid, usually hydrochloric acid.

The fatty acids most commonly present in soap are oleic, stearic and palmitic acids and pure, dry, sodium oleate has TFM 92.8%, while top quality soap noodles now increasingly used for making soap tablets in small and medium size factories, are typically traded with a specification TFM 78% min., moisture 14% max.

But besides moisture, finished commercial soap, especially laundry soap, and also contains fillers used to lower its cost or confer special properties, plus emollients, preservatives, etc. and then the total fatty matter can be as low as 50%. Fillers, which are usually dry powders, also make the soap harder, harsher on the skin and with greater tendency to become ‘mushy’ in water and so low total fatty matter is usually associated with lower quality and hardness.

In older days in Europe and in some countries now, soap with TFM 75% minimum was referred to as Grade 1 and 65% minimum as Grade 2 and less 60% as Grade 3.

With umpteen number of soap bars filling the market, choosing the right soap can become a cumbersome task. This is where Total Fatty Matter comes into play. Let’s find out how much TFM you should be looking for while purchasing soaps.

What Does TFM Do For Skin?

The TFM quantity describes the quality of a soap. It adds moisturizing properties to the product, leaving skin deeply-cleansed, yet soft and supple. This is because the fillers are lesser in number and the deep-cleansing content is higher.

How To Check TFM In Soaps?

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has differentiated toilet soaps into three categories, based on the amount of total fatty matter they contain. These are:

  • Grade 1 soaps – minimum 76% TFM content
  • Grade 2 soaps – minimum 70% TFM content
  • Grade 3 soaps – minimum 60% TFM content

We must look for the total fatty matter content in a toilet soap based on our skin type. Talk to dermatologist about how much total fatty matter content is good to be used on your skin. The higher the TFM, the more moisturizing properties. However, toilet soaps with high TFM quantity can dry up the skin, if their pH levels are too high.

It is compulsory for toilet soaps to have their content specified as part of the ingredient list.

Laundry soaps follow a different criteria.

  • Grade 1 laundry soaps : minimum 62% TFM content
  • Grade 2 laundry soaps : minimum 50% TFM content

What Is The Difference Between A Laundry Soap And A Toilet Soap?

Laundry soaps are the detergent bars we use to wash our clothes with. Toilet soaps are used to clean our bodies.

LAUNDRY SOAPTOILET SOAP
Low TFM contentHigh TFM content
Obtained from tar/petroleumObtained from vegetable oils/fatty acids

Are Bathing Bars And Toilet Soaps The Same?

As is the difference between two flavors of ice cream, bathing bars are relatively different from toilet soaps. The content in a bathing bar should ideally be less than 60%, but not below 40%. Toilet soaps on the other hand contain more than 60%.

Toilet soaps have better cleansing and moisturizing properties than bathing bars. Toilet soaps do not contain surface active ingredients, making them more gentle than bathing bars on your skin.

If Higher TFM Is Better, Then Why Doesn’t Every Toilet Soap Have It?

It all tickels down to the cost of the product in the end. It may be a costly affair for manufacturers. This is where the fillers come-in which add to weight of the soap.

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