Tag Archives: ivory soap explosion

Spectacular Science: Ivory Soap Explosion


Some of you Moms may be familiar with this fun experiment, microwaving Ivory Soap. This fun experiment has been around for years, but to our boys it may be fun and new. Exploding Ivory Soap in the microwave isn’t just about fun, it can also be a learning experience. Just like any other science experiment let your kids make a hypothesis before your begin. Pose questions to them like, “what do you think will happen?” Then when it is all over you can discuss why this happened, or why that didn’t happen. In the end you will be the cool mom who knows exactly why the soap exploded.

Ivory Soap is actually a very rare soap. Wen the soap was first being sold in 1890 an employee at Proctor and Gamble changed the product accidentally while mixing the soap. When he forgot to shut off his mixer when he took his lunch break he actually changed the way the soap was created. By not shutting off his mixer when he went to lunch the soap mixture in his mixer was left to continuously churn, mixing in more air pockets than would normally be mixed into the soap. It made the soap lighter and even made it float in water because it was so light. Proctor and Gamble used this to their advantage and marketed the soap as, “the only soap that floats!”

While it didn’t make any difference in how the soap worked it did make the soap have more air pockets which leads to a larger water content, which makes this wonderful explosion possible. It is actually like when you pop popcorn in the microwave. The added air pockets become water that vaporizes and causes bubbles which then pop and cause expansion. As the air expands so does the soap.

Now is your chance to try it at home. You might even want to use a different brand of soap and let your kids try to see the difference the air pockets make, the Ivory Soap will explode, while other soaps without air pockets will melt.

What You Will Need:

Ivory Soap Bar
Deep bowl of water
Other brands of soap

What You Will Do:

1. Fill the bowl with water.
2. Place the Ivory Soap in the bowl.
3. Place the bowl in the microwave and microwave on high for 2 minutes.
4. Watch as the soap expands becoming puffy.
5. Allow the soap to cool before touching it. Once it is cool feel how it appears puffy but is actually still quite firm.
6. Now try the same thing with a different brand of soap. Compare your results.