The neutral fats are composed of fatty acids and glycerin.
Oils and fats must, therefore, not be looked upon as definite chemical individuals, but as representatives of natural species which vary, although within certain narrow limits, according to the climate and soil in which the plants which produce them are grown, or, in the case of animal fats, according to the climate, the race, the age of the animal, and especially the food, and also the idiosyncrasy of the individual animal.
Of the natural fats or glycerides contained in oils the most important in addition to palmitin are stearin and olein, and these it may be sufficient to regard as the principal fatty bodies concerned in soapmaking.
It aids the absorption of fats and may be used with cod liver oil when the latter is administered by the skin.
Numerous varieties of soaps are made; the purposes to which they are applied are varied; the materials employed embrace a considerable range of oils, fats and other bodies; and the processes adopted undergo many modifications.