Saponification can be defined as a “hydration reaction where free hydroxide breaks the ester bonds between the fatty acids and glycerol of a triglyceride, resulting in free fatty acids and glycerol,” which are each soluble in aqueous solutions.

This process specifically involves the chemical degradation of lipids, which are not freely soluble in aqueous solutions. Heat-treated lipid residues are more difficult to remove than non heat-treated residues due to polymerization.

Saponification plays a critical role in cleaning lipids which are present in process areas involving cell growth and cell processing, such as bacterial fermentation and cell disruption process.