Ivory Soap Science!

6 11 2008

ivory-soap-experWe found a really easy experiment on the Steve Spangler Science website that produces amazing visual results! All you need is a microwave, a plate, and a bar of ivory soap!

Directions:

  1. Place an unwrapped bar of ivory soap on the center of a plate.
  2. Put the plate of soap in a microwave.
  3. Cook the bar of ivory soap in the microwave for up to 2 minutes.
  4. Watch as the soap expands into what looks like a giant, puffy cloud!
  5. Take the plate out of the microwave. Once the soap has cooled, feel the soap- as Steven Spangler explains, the soap will feel “puffy but rigid.”

So how does this awesome experiment work? Ivory soap is known as “the soap that floats.” Ivory soap is full of air bubbles that are pumped into it when it is made. The air makes the soap less dense, or less heavy, so since the soap is very light, it is able to float on water. Ivory soap expands in the microwave because it contains water that is trapped inside all the air bubbles of the soap. When the water in the air bubbles becomes hot, it vaporizes and expands causing the soap to “grow.”

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One response

19 02 2009
Susan

We at Steve Spangler Science love that you picked this experiment to feature. This is a great experiment to do at home. And it doesn’t wreck your microwave like some other things can. Here’s another experiment about water in the microwave. It isn’t one to perform at home, but a good lesson to look at http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/exploding-water-in-the-microwave

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