This quick and easy science experiment is fun for all ages. Find out what happens when you put a bar of Ivory soap in the microwave!
It's summer time - and you know what that means. Time to find a zillion new ways to entertain those kiddos.
This simple five minute STEM activity was a big hit with my son. Easy, educational, and not too messy. What's not to love?
This science experiment is:
- A quick and easy activity to do with kids.
- Fun for all ages.
- Simple to do with just a bar of Ivory soap and a microwave!
Activity - Step by Step
Step 1: Unwrap a bar of Ivory soap (it needs to be this original Ivory soap) and place it on a microwave safe plate. Tip: Use the largest plate you have, to avoid making a mess inside your microwave.
Step 2: Place in the microwave, and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Observe closely as the soap expands into a sea of foam right before your eyes!
Step 3: Carefully remove the dish from the microwave and inspect the results. (Make sure to let it cool before touching!) Feel the foam and make some observations. Is it hard or soft? Stretchy or brittle? Why do you think the soap turned into foam?
What did we learn?
This experiment works because Ivory soap contains many air pockets that are created during the manufacturing process. When the soap is heated in the microwave, the air pockets expand, causing the soap to puff up and take on a foam-like texture. This is unique to Ivory brand soap!
Expand the Experiment
Try this experiment with other brands of soap. What happens when they are heated? Do they also turn into foam? Why do you think different brands of soap produce different results?
Note that the air pockets are unique to Ivory soap's manufacturing process. Other brands may not have the same ingredients or porous texture to give the same result. But if you find one that does - let me know in the comments!
Test different microwave settings. Do you get the same result when using a lower heat or shorter/longer cooking times?
Test various shapes and sizes. We used a full bar of soap for the original experiment. What happens if you cut the Ivory soap into smaller pieces? Do larger and smaller pieces of soap behave differently?
Does it float? Test whether your Ivory soap cloud floats in a bowl of water or the bathtub. Why do you think it floats or sinks? Does a bar of Ivory soap (pre-microwaving) float? What about other brands of soap? Why or why not?
More STEM Activities
If you love this Microwaving Ivory Soap experiment, be sure to check out these other simple science experiments and learning activities:
- 1 bar Ivory soap
- Microwave-safe Plate
Unwrap the bar of Ivory soap. Place it on a large, microwave-safe plate.
Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Observe as the soap transforms into a foamy substance.
Carefully remove the plate from the microwave - it will be hot! Inspect the changes to the soap. What does the foam feel like? Why do you think this happened?
This experiment works because Ivory soap contains air pockets, which expand when heated, transforming the soap into a foamy substance.