I was boiling Quaker oats to make myself a healthy breakfast one morning when I noticed the water bubbling. The bubbles looked very soap-like and I immediately began to wonder if certain compounds found in oats could have cleansing properties.
So I started looking around. I found that I was in fact right: there are compounds found in many plants called saponins, which perform a variety of functions including cleansing.
Saponins are made up of complex water-soluble glucosides (sugars) bound to oil-soluble sapogenins (steroid or triterpene based). This amphiphilic structure is what helps to make saponins naturally foamy and cleansing. This property makes them surfactants. Continue Reading