Friday, February 22, 2013

The Ivory Soap Experiment

 I've been looking at the Internet to find fun kid science experiments and found the magical Ivory soap experiment. It's at a lot of sites, but the ones I saw it at first were in this cool science booklet that you can download for free from While He Was Napping and Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas. (I have to admit, I hadn't done that much surfing of other blogs till this year, and I can't believe how many good ones are out there!)

Back to the experiment. Ivory soap is different than other soaps because they infuse air into the soap. In fact, it has enough air in it that it floats! (Give it a try and then test other bars of soap.)

 First we took one bar of soap and cut it into quarters.

 Then we got out the magnifying glass and took a good look at it to see the structure of the soap. We didn't see any noticeable air pockets.

 We put one quarter of the soap onto a paper plate (a regular plate would work just fine, too--I was concerned about the mess, but it's just soap!). Our plan was to put it into the microwave and heat it. We heard that something special would happen...
 We set the microwave for 2 minutes, but it took less than that to see an amazing transformation:
 The little quarter bar of soap had overflowed the paper plate with a massive white foamy substance.

It was lots of fun to play with!

So, why did this happen? The air in the soap expands as it is heated. This is an example of Charles' Law, which states that as a temperature of a gas increases, so does it volume.

Try microwaving another bar soap. What happens? (Spoiler alert) Most melt, because they don't have air whipped into the soap. Apparently P&G's founder's son, James Gamble, created the formula with air in it, and the public has loved it ever since Ivory soap has been sold since 1879.

Now, what do you do with all that foamy soap? Stay tuned--we've got a productive way to use it coming soon! **Updated: Here's the link for Part 2**


Anonymous said...

Ivory soap was sold as the only soap that floated. Almost everyone took baths and the floating soap was a plus. If you dropped the soap while you were bathing you could find it and not have to fish around for it. gs

trav4adventures said...

That's nice, but I'd say consumers are paying for a lot of...HOT AIR!
Actually, I LOVE Ivory Soap! :-)

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