Illustrated Glossary of Organic Chemistry

Saponification: The process in which a triacylglyceride is reacted with aqueous hydroxide ion to form a mixture of glycerol and fatty acid salts (soaps). The reaction mechanism follows the nucleophilic carbonyl substitution pathway.

Saponification of glycerol tristearate (a triacylglyceride) with aqueous NaOH yields a soap consisting of one part glycerol (shown in red) and three parts sodium stearate (shown in blue).