Soap water can damage your plants
You have probably heard many times that soapy water can be used on crops to fight various pests. But be careful, not every soap is suitable for this purpose and not every plant can deal with detergents safely. Soap is a detergent that contains phosphate, bleach, enzymes, dyes, fragrances, and rinsing agents. If you use soap water, you should choose natural soap.
Soap vs. detergents
There is a difference between a detergent and soap as these are chemically completely different. Soaps are cleaners made from natural oils and fats, while detergents are cleaners made from synthetic chemicals called surfactants. Soap and detergents can also contain different chemicals. There are types of soaps which are called insecticidal soaps and contain pesticides used in horticulture. We shall tell you how and why to use them.
Insecticide soap is the real soap and it is not a detergent. It is produced by mixing sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide with fats. The final product is a substance called either sodium salt of fatty acid or the potassium salt of fatty acid. It is the same ingredient found in most types of soaps, as well as in liquid hand soap. These are very different from detergents in terms of chemicals.
Insecticide soap is a special type of soap and it is only made from potassium, which produces milder, softer soap than sodium. It also uses long-chain fatty acids – a special type of fat. This soap is especially made to be gentle on plants.
Soaps also dissolve fatty chemicals such as oil, grease and wax, but they are not as good as detergents.
What happens when you spray diluted soap on your crops?
Keep in mind that if you spray the common/classic soap (not the insecticidal one), which is excellent in removing oil, fat and wax, on your plants, you will remove the natural oils and waxes that all plants have on leaves. These oils and waxes protect leaves. When the protective coating is removed various pathogens can infect your plants easier. So, if you use ordinary soap on your plants, you will remove their natural protection and that is not good obviously.
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