Do you know what this is?????? Nope, it’s not shaving cream.
It’s a bar of Ivory soap after being cooked in the microwave for a couple of minutes! It’s a very cool experiment that you must try with your little ones! I developed a little booklet to guide this experiment. This is also a great experiment to do with the PTOE when discussing Oxygen.
For the experiment you need:
a bar of Ivory soap
downloadable booklet- cut pages in half then assemble and staple
large bowl of water
newspaper or wax paper to protect table
Our little friend Emma had all kinds of great questions about this experiment. She even wondered if the bar was hollow.
After completing most of the booklet, it’s time to put the soap into the microwave:
1. Put the soap in the center of a large plate.
2. Cook the bar of soap on HIGH for 2 minutes. DON”T take your eyes off the soap, it’s very cool to see it expand into fluffy clouds.
3. Let it cool before touching, it can be VERY HOT!
So why does Ivory blow up in the microwave??
All soap contains water; both in the form of water vapor (inside trapped air bubbles) and water that is caught up in the matrix of soap itself. The soap expanding is caused by the heating of the water that is inside of the soap. The water vaporizes, making bubbles, while the heat also causes trapped air to expand. The heat also causes the soap to soften and become pliable. This effect is actually a demonstration of Charles’ Law. When the soap is heated the molecules of air in the soap move faster causing them to move far away from each other. This causes the soap to puff up and expand to an enormous size. Charles’ Law states that as the temperature of the gas increases so does its volume. Try a non-whipped bar of soap and see if Charles’ Law effects it too.
A little history of Ivory soap:
The concept of soap that floats was rumored to have been encountered by accident. The story goes that Harley Procter named the soap ‘Ivory’ from a biblical verse (Psalm 45) church: “All thy garments smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia, out of the ivory palaces whereby they have made me glad.” In 1878, the formula for the “White Soap” was created. Several months later the accident occurred. Without thinking one of the workmen left to go to lunch and the machinery was still running. Since the machinery was left in operation, air would work its way into the mixture. The workman decided not to discard the mixture after discussing with his supervisor. Instead he poured mixture into frames and the soap hardened. Interestingly enough it was cut, packaged, and shipped. Amazingly, Procter & Gamble began to receive letters from buyers of this “accidental” soap. They wanted more of the soap that floats! Even though this interesting formula was one of their best products, they were perplexed as to how this happened. The mysterious formula for the floating soap was resolved when the lunchtime accident was revealed. The error the workman made became Procter & Gamble’s new product. Why was this product so popular? Some people were known to bathe in the Ohio River and the floating soap would never get lost. Ivory Soap became a best seller due to a workman’s error. Proctor & Gamble makes the floating soap by intentionally adding a small amount of air in the formula. Naturally, this allows the soap to be lighter than water (from essortment.com).
What to do with the soap bits:
1. After the experiment it’s time to play with the soap- Ivory soap sculptures! Have a small bowl of water available to wet hands, this helps in the molding of the fluffy soap. If the soap is too dry it will not form well.
and a little kitty!
2. Add pieces to warm water and do some felting with wool roving. We are planning on making cocoons tomorrow!
3. Make a new bar of soap- melt the soap in a pan, add a bit of water, add oatmeal and lavender buds. Pour into a mold.
4. Make soap balls (the little ladies love these)- put the soap bits in a bowl, add a touch of water, add lavender or other dried flowers, and roll the mixture into a ball. Place on waxed paper to dry overnight.
What a great activity to do during flu season! I guarantee clean hands in the end! Enjoy!