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The Science of Soap

Discover the science behind superhero soap that's designed to kills germs effectively.

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We all know that it’s important to wash our hands, but what’s so special about soap? Let’s take a look at germs and discover how superhero soap can help protect us. You can even try this experiment at home with the kids!

Materials

  • A tub of water
  • Glitter
  • Oil (any type)
  • Soap (any type)

Instructions

  1. Fill a container with oil, big enough to fit your hands into.
  2. Add a 2-3 tablespoons of glitter to the oil, place your hands in the oil and mix the two together. Make sure you rub lots of the glitter into your hands.
  3. Attempt to wash your hands in the water, without soap. What do you notice about your hands?
  4. Use soap to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, then rinse with the water. Are there any germs left?

What you learn

This activity demonstrates the power of soap in cleaning our hands and protecting us from different pathogens.

Our hands naturally secrete oils and germs get trapped in this oily layer. Oil and water don’t mix together very well, as they are different kinds of molecules, so washing our hands only with water isn’t very effective.

But soap molecules have two different ends to them. One end is attracted to water molecules – this is called hydrophilic – and the other end loves oil and fat molecules – this is called hydrophobic. Soap is able to bind to the oils on our hands, and then mix with the water to wash all the germs away.