The alkaline hydrolysis of oils and fats is called Saponification.
On treating with a base such as NaOH, the ester is converted back to alcohol and sodium salt of carboxylic acid. The reaction is known as saponification because it is used in the manufacture of soap.
CH3COOC2H5 + NaOH → C2H5OH + CH3COONa
- In the process, animal or vegetable fat is converted into soap (a fatty acid) and alcohol. The reaction requires a solution of an alkali (e.g., sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide) in water and heat.
- The reaction is used commercially to make soap, lubricants, and fire extinguishers.
- The saponification reaction is exothermic in nature because heat is liberated during the process.