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I don't know if anyone is still looking for the answer but here I go anyway because I spent 40 minutes researching this for an assignment TL;DR - The better solubility of potassium salts is the key factor, but not in the way one would initially suspect. Industrial processes and the efficiency of large-scale soap making explains the choice. The reason why ...

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You are correct in your ideas. The effect is important in the van-der-waals interaction and appears as an additional $1/r^7$ term compared to the usual $1/r^6$ term. (This is sometimes called a retardation effect). It is present only at larger distances (a few nm) and arises only in induced-dipole interactions (dispersion interaction) because of the time it ...

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I think we are thinking too chemically, i.e., too basically. From my (limited) experience, soft soaps contain more water. The correspondence of viscosity or some other measure of strength or hardness with water content is not exactly identical for the sodium and potassium soaps, but it is fairly close. If you make a potassium soap with low water content, it ...

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