Weird Science: Soap Foam - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Weird Science: Soap Foam

Dr. V Show: Soap Foam

March 23, 2010

Things you need:

  • Plate
  • Microwave
  • New bar of Ivory™ soap
  • Other brands of soap (optional)

The Experiment:

As with all science experiments, please perform this with adult supervision. Unwrap the bar of Ivory™ soap and place it on a microwave-safe plate. Place the plate in the microwave and heat it up on high for about two minutes. What happens to the soap? Take the soap out of the microwave and let it cool for a minute and try touching it. What does it feel like? Try using a piece of it. Does it still clean and bubble up like soap?

So that's how it works…

Foam is a substance that is formed by trapping many gas bubbles in a liquid or solid. Some examples of foam include shaving cream, whipped cream, and Styrofoam. In your soap foam experiment, two things are happening at the same time that form the foam. First, you are heating the soap up, which makes the soap soft. Second, you are heating up the air and water molecules in the soap so that they start moving faster and further away from each other. This demonstrates Charles' Law, which describes how gasses tend to expand when they are heated up. So as the air in the soap expands, it pushes on the soft soap, causing it to puff up and become a foam. Ivory™ soap tends to work really well because it contains a lot of air, more than most soap bars. If you put a bar of Ivory™ soap in the water, it floats! Do other soap bars float? If you cut the bar of Ivory™ soap in half, you won't see air bubbles because the air has been whipped into the soap. Because this is a physical and not a chemical change in the soap, the soap will still work just the same. So place your soap foam in the bathroom in place of a new bar of soap!



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