as a preschool teacher, i often find cool kid science experiments while looking online for lesson plan ideas.
this one seemed easy enough: microwave ivory soap and watch it "explode"!
if you've ever tried this experiment, you know how cool it is, and even on the fourth and fifth and sixth bars, it just NEVER gets old!
i grabbed my kids and a few bars of ivory soap and hit the kitchen! "this will be so awesome!" i told them, and it was! the soap seemed to erupt from underneath, growing bigger the longer it cooked! my children were mesmerized!
and after you remove the soap from the microwave oven, all thick and fluffy and warm, it seems like it will be soft and messy, but it's actually firm enough to pick it up. (be careful, though, as it may be very hot!)
once the soap cools enough, you can crush and crumble it with your fingers into a nice soft flaky pile, which is equally as fun an therapeutic as watching it fluff up in the microwave. and then, if you really wanna be "MOM OF THE YEAR", you can explain to your children why this phenomenon works in the first place, and why it only works with ivory soap. (click here if you want to know how it works.)
so after the amazing science experiment, the question remained--
what do we do with all this soap?!
well, you can do several things with it:
- instead of crumbling the fluff into flakes, leave it whole and let your kids break off a piece for each bath.
- crumble it into a fine powder and use it for powdered bubble bath.
- add water the flakes and make shaped soaps, like i did!
- microwave a bar of ivory soap until it fluffs up completely. you may want to use only a half to a quarter bar at a time, so as not to make a huge soapy mess in your microwave.
- once cooled, crumble the soap fluff into fine, powdery flakes.
- add a few drops of food coloring (if you want) and then a few teaspoons of water at time, mixing until you get a pie-crustlike consistency.
- fill in cookie cutters with the mixture, smoothing with a rubber spatula.
- let sit for a few minutes to set, then carefully remove soaps from cookie cutters while still somewhat wet.
- let fully dry in a cool, dry place for at least 2 days.
click on "read more" below, for additional tips on making shaped soaps.
enjoy this fun science experiment!
tips for making shaped soaps
- remember: this only works with ivory soap, because of the way it manufactured-- it will NOT work with other kinds of soap!
- use a large, microwave-safe bowl if you don't want soap all over your microwave
- cut the soap into 2-4 pieces before microwaving, otherwise you will have unpuffed pieces in the middle of your fluff.
- cover your work surface with wax paper or other nonstick covering, to decrease your clean-up time.
- soak bowl, spatula, and cookie cutters in warm water for a few minutes and clean-up will be a breeze-- it is just soap, after all!
- if you don't have (or want to use) cookie cutters, you can just make balls of soap or other hand-shaped designs.