January 24, 2012

Ivory Soap Explosion

For the past few months, I kept reading about the amazing results you get by sticking a bar of Ivory Soap in the microwave.  Then just a couple weeks ago, I saw it here and I knew I wanted to try it here with my kids.  

Let me tell you, if you don't have any Ivory soap in the house, pick it up on your next shopping trip, because this is what you'll get...


Pretty cool, isn't it?  And it's so super easy.  Just pop your soap in the microwave (it'll only work with Ivory), put it on high for about 2 minutes and watch it expand like crazy. (Note:  Different microwaves may be stronger than others.  Your soap may be finished expanding sooner, just watch it carefully )


Just heed my warning, though.  I didn't go back to reread the post where it directed you to cut your soap into pieces first.  I popped the whole thing in, then had to push my oohing and ahhing kids aside before the growing blob completely filled my small microwave!

She loved it!

Be careful at first, because it is fairly hot when it first comes out of the microwave.  However, it cools down quickly and can be easily handled.  I thought it would be sticky or slimy feeling, but it was actually dry and a bit crumbly.  The kids had fun touching it and breaking it apart.  (and it was really easy to get them in the shower with a promise that they could break off a clump of the exploded soap to use to wash up!)


NOTE:  For all of you who make your own laundry detergent, Jessica sent me this message on our Facebook page...

My daughter and I just tried the Ivory Soap Explosion..and LOVED it! We found another perk to this too: Once the soap has been expanded and the kiddos play with it..it turns to that fine powder. I make my own laundry soap....1 bar shaved soap, 1 cup washing soda and 1 cup borax. I will never shave my bar of soap again!! Expand, play, mix..that's my new laundry soap motto!!! 

I think I'm going to have to keep a few bars tucked away in the closet and pull it out whenever we need a little fun before bathtime.

Oh, and there's some scientific principles behind it too.  Basically, in the manufacturing process, tiny air pockets are formed in the soap (that's why Ivory floats).  When heated in the microwave, the moisture in those air pockets changes to a gas and expands.  (I told my kids it was similar to what happens with popcorn ~ but you can read more about the science part of it in more detail here at Steve Spangler Science

Sharing our cool soap experiment at: 

27 comments:

  1. I've seen this around, but haven't tried it yet either - thanks for the tip about cutting the bar up! Going to try this soon!

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  2. I love this experiment and think we need to take it into the bath next time we do it! I threw the whole bar of soap in the microwave without too much trouble, but maybe my oven is a bit bigger than yours? In any case, GREAT advice to cut it into thirds as a precaution. Sorry you had to learn the hard way.

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  3. Rachelle, yes I do have a small microwave, but boy was it really expanding! It was reaching the sides of the microwave and overflowing the plate when there was still half a bar left! Plus, if you cut it into pieces, you'll have plenty to keep re-doing the experiment! :)

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  4. We did this this summer, and the next night I put the soap in the blender with a little water and some food coloring, and mixed it into a pudding like consistency. Then I filled ziploc bags up with it, snipped off a corner, and let my children have it in the bath, with their "paint". It was a great time.

    I blogged about it here:http://ahouseof.blogspot.com/2011/06/science.html

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    1. I was thinking of using food coloring and putting the soap in molds for individual soaps, wouldn't the food coloring stain your skin?

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  5. Okay, that is seriously awesome. Thanks for sharing, I can't wait to try this!

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  6. This has been on my to-do list for a while. I'm so excited to try it. Thanks for the tip about cutting it. I like the idea of keeping it under control AND having more chunks left over to play with another time.
    Does it still seem to wash the same after the microwave process?

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  7. Victoria, yes, it seemed to wash the same. It was crumbly, but still produced suds and my kids looked clean ;)

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  8. we've tried this and also found a great recipe that uses the crumbled pieces of expanded soap for bath paint. Here's the link to the recipe: http://www.housingaforest.com/fluffy-bathtub-paint/. Visiting from Living Life Intentionally

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  9. I've always wanted to do this! looks like so much fun. Thanks for sharing :)

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  10. haha, it does expand more than you'd think doesn't it! It was awesome to watch - I was too chicken to throw in the whole bar at once!

    Thanks for mentioning us as your inspiration! :)

    Nice that you used it in the bath - my girls were not saving it! They wanted to play & explore till there was no more, haha!

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  11. This looks like a blast! My 2 year old girl and a 4 yr old boy will be doing this for a play date tomorrow!

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  12. This is on today's agenda! Thank you so much for the idea! I linked you to my blog!

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  13. I'm so glad I actually read your post because this seemed really weird at first but now I am intrigued and my son LOVES science. Thanks! dawn

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  14. That looks so cool, and your daughter looks so happy :)

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  15. Be careful what you put it on. It burned a hole in a plastic plate that had been in the microwave many times before and never had a chance to expand much. I'll have to try again.

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  16. Yikes, Alicia! So sorry that happened to you. I'm going to edit the directions so people can watch theirs carefully. I'm guessing it might have something to do with the different strengths of some microwaves.

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  17. Love this and we are actually doing this for the 4th grade science fair! YAY!!

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  18. My brother's science teacher told him about this, so he decided to try it yesterday. The problem was, he didn't know you had to use Ivory soap. So he popped some random soap in the microwave. It puffed up for about 2 seconds, then fell flat. And it stunk. Really, really bad. His lesson learned: know specifically what materials you need to use or risk disaster. I can still smell it now.

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  19. For any Aussies trying...I tried velvet soap and it doesn't work...lol...what a stinky mess! It puffed up a little and then started to melt and burn...I'll have to try and get my hands on ivory soap!

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  20. Bathing your kids in radiation. Nice.

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    1. If you're going to make smart a$$ comments, at least have the guts to use your name!

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  21. Just tried this one. The boys I keep are not very interested in experiments but rather enjoyed this one. I need to let you know to make sure that your area is well ventilated as this is kind of tough to breathe in. Caused us to cough and sneeze a bit. It was a blast to watch in the microwave. I now have bits to use for my home made hand soap. :)

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  22. I'm doing this today with my daycare kids (ages 4, 2, and 1) I suspect the younger ones won't be too interested in the first part, but then they get to smash it all up afterwards. This afternoon's activity will be adding a bit of warm water to the powder and packing it into cookie cutters to make take home soaps for the kids :o)

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  23. These tend to run bigger than others so if you're not ready to move up to the next size they help. I've had a few leakage issues though but that wouldn't deter me from giving this five stars. They move well too, when they get wet they don't become overly bulky.
    honest company reviews

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