Quick Saponification of Methyl Salicylate Reaction

Scented soap made by hand
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Making your own soap can be a time-consuming process, but you can demonstrate the saponification reaction quickly and easily by reacting oil of wintergreen and sodium hydroxide to make sodium salicylate. This takes mere minutes.

Key Takeaways: Saponification of Oil of Wintergreen

  • Saponification is the chemical reaction that produces soap. However, it can be used to form other useful compounds.
  • Oil of wintergreen can be reacted with sodium hydroxide to yield sodium salicylate. The reaction is a saponification.
  • Sodium salicylate is used as an aspirin alternative.


All you need is the strong base sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and oil of wintergreen. Oil of wintergreen is easiest to find online.

How to Perform a Quick Saponification of Methyl Salicylate Reaction

  1. This demonstration is about as easy as it gets! First, get your materials together.
  2. Pour 2M sodium hydroxide into the oil of wintergreen, while stirring.
  3. Sodium salicylate will be formed by the saponification reaction. It will appear as a thick white solid.
  4. Here is the reaction: HOC6H4COOCH3 + NaOH → HOC6H4COO-Na+ + CH3OH

Tips for Success

  1. Oil of wintergreen is methyl salicylate. If you have difficulty finding it under one name, then try the other.
  2. This demonstration is intended to be performed by persons with training in the handling and use of chemicals. Proper safety precautions must be used, particularly when handling NaOH.
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Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Quick Saponification of Methyl Salicylate Reaction." ThoughtCo, Sep. 7, 2021, thoughtco.com/perform-a-quick-saponification-reaction-602238. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2021, September 7). Quick Saponification of Methyl Salicylate Reaction. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/perform-a-quick-saponification-reaction-602238 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Quick Saponification of Methyl Salicylate Reaction." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/perform-a-quick-saponification-reaction-602238 (accessed March 20, 2023).