What Is the Active Ingredient in Soap?

MariaPavlova/Vetta/Getty Images

Standard soap contains one of three different active ingredients: sodium tallowate, sodium cocoate or sodium palm kernelate. In some instances, all three of these active ingredients are found in one soap. Manufacturers interchange these ingredients at will.

The typical soap package includes an ingredients list that lists all three of these potential active ingredients due to the fact that a manufacturer often changes what is utilized in a particular brand without notice. By listing all three, there is no additional expense or delay in preparing alternate packaging when the specific active ingredient or combination of active ingredients is altered by a manufacturer.