Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ready, S.E.T., GO! Ivory Soap Cloud

Welcome to our first installment of S.E.T (Science Experiment Thursday).  Monkey J has been very interested in any and all experiments, so it just seemed to make sense to do a weekly one.  Today we did an experiment I had been very excited to try with Monkey J.  It's the Ivory Soap Cloud experiment. First, we collected two brands of soap:  Dial and Ivory

We put each bar into a bowl of water to see if it would sink or float:

Ivory is one of the few bars of soaps that floats:

I cut the soap to show Monkey J the inside of the bar.  There are no large air pockets, but yet the bar floats, so it somehow is less dense than air.  Apparently, Ivory soap floats because it has air whipped into it during the manufacturing process:

I wanted Monkey J to see the comparison of the soaps, so we started with the Dial.  Microwave half a bar of soap for roughly 2 minutes (microwave times will vary):

The Dial soap poofed up a bit:

I let it cool and then let Monkey J touch it:

Next, we put in the Ivory bar (only half or else your microwave will get super messy!):

Be sure to watch the entire 2 minutes, because it is amazing to watch the Ivory bar expand...

Into a cloud-like substance!

Have you ever picked up a cloud before?  You should!  This feels extraordinary!

We then compared the Ivory cloud to the Dial.  Monkey J concluded that the Ivory soap was bigger because it had more air in it.

Quoting from Steve Spangler Science:  "This effect is actually a demonstration of Charles' Law. Charles' Law states that as the temperature of a gas increases, so does its volume. When the soap is heated, the molecules of air in the soap move quickly, causing them to move far away from each other. This causes the soap to puff up and expand to an enormous size. Other brands of soap without whipped air tend to heat up and melt in the microwave"

Monkey J then wanted to see if both "clouds" would float now...and they did!

A super easy science experiment that is loaded with fun!  A great kickoff to our S.E.Ts!


  1. Very cool experiment for little ones!

  2. This is awesome! I will definitely have to try this!