• Agricultural soil;
  • Sewage sludge;
  • Soap;
  • Microwave-assisted extraction;
  • Liquid chromatography


We have developed a new analytical procedure for determining insoluble Ca and Mg fatty acid salts (soaps) in agricultural soil and sewage sludge samples. The number of analytical methodologies that focus in the determination of insoluble soap salts in different environmental compartments is very limited. In this work, we propose a methodology that involves a sample clean-up step with petroleum ether to remove soluble salts and a conversion of Ca and Mg insoluble salts into soluble potassium salts using tripotassium ethylenediaminetetraacetate salt and potassium carbonate, followed by the extraction of analytes from the samples using microwave-assisted extraction with methanol. An improved esterification procedure using 2,4-dibromoacetophenone before the liquid chromatography with ultraviolet detection analysis also has been developed. The absence of matrix effect was demonstrated with two fatty acid Ca salts that are not commercial and are never detected in natural samples (C13:0 and C17:0). Therefore, it was possible to evaluate the matrix effect because both standards have similar environmental behavior (adsorption and precipitation) to commercial soaps (C10:0 to C18:0). We also studied the effect of the different variables on the clean-up, the conversion of Ca soap, and the extraction and derivatization procedures. The quantification limits found ranged from 0.4 to 0.8 mg/kg. The proposed method was satisfactorily applied for the development of a study on soap behavior in agricultural soil and sewage sludge samples. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:2470–2476. © 2010 SETAC