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Saponification number

The saponification number (SN) primarily serves to determine the proportion of fatty acid esters in the sample.

The fatty acid esters are cleaved by boiling in KOH, a process which produces the salts of the fatty acids and the corresponding alcohol, e.g. glycerine.

The method is not specific since acidic sample constituents consume KOH and in so doing increase the saponification number (SN).


The titrant employed is c(HCl) = 0.5 mol/L in isopropanol. The SN indicates how many mg KOH are consumed by 1 g sample under the test conditions.