0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Many plants produce significant quantities of saponins (steroid or triterpenoid glycosides) which have surfactant properties. One such plant is the soapwort Saponaria officianalis whose foliage yields a glycoside capable of wetting, foaming and grease dispersion - the very qualities that we recognise in a modern detergent. It is likely that the saponins provided our ancestors with our first useful surfactants. These natural glycosides are still in use today for specialised processes such as washing delicate fabrics.