The indigenous African organic soap is formed by saponification. Using the local and ancient method, with slight modifications, palm kernel oil (Elaeis guineensis) and the filtrate of burnt cocoa pod ash (Theobroma cacao) were used to prepare African black soap (C11H23COO-K+). The prepared black soap was thereafter divided into five parts. Part A was the control without additives, while parts B, C and D were enhanced with aloe vera, camwood and lime respectively. Part E was enhanced with both shea butter and camwood. These samples were analyzed chemically by pH determinations, infrared spectroscopic analyses and phytochemical screenings. They were also screened for in-vitro antibacterial activities against two Gram-positive bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus subtilis) and two Gram-negative bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli). The pH determinations showed that all the samples were alkaline in nature with values between 8.7 and 9.1. Infrared spectra analyses of the unenhanced black soap revealed a medium and a strong band due to υ (C=O) frequency of the keto group at 1740 and 1562 cm-1 respectively and a medium band at 1119 cm-1 due to υ (C-O) frequency of the ester oxygen. These bands appeared almost unchanged in the Infrared spectra of the enhanced samples signifying no complexation through the oxygen donor atoms. Thus, the structure of the black soap (A) was intact and it was not denatured by the various additives. Phytochemical screenings revealed that A and D contained saponins, flavonoids and terpenoids; C contained both flavonoids and terpenoids; B and E contained only terpenoids; while tannins and steroids were absent in all the samples. Antimicrobial studies showed that the enhanced black soap were either active against one or both gram-negative bacteria. In addition B, C and D were also active against either one or both gram-positive bacteria. E was inactive against the gram-positive bacteria, while the unenhanced black soap remained inactive against all tested organisms.
Key words: Enhanced African black soap, chemical, phytochemical and antimicrobial activities.
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