Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How Does Dish soap Work?

Yesterday morning one of the first questions that came out of Selena’s mouth as we were preparing breakfast was, “How does dish soap work?” I told her that was a great question and we would explore that. She wanted to put it in her question box, but I have discovered that while we have put a few questions in her question box, they don’t necessarily come back out to be answered. I told her after breakfast we would answer her question.


Using 4 small containers I placed oil in one, heavy cream in another and the last one just for fun I put sticky honey. We grabbed the green food coloring so we could see the affects of the dish soap in our experiment.

First we had a discussion on how foods contain, fats, oils or grease, and we both know how sticky things can get in the pan, hence the honey. I also explained how dish soap is formulated to break apart the binding elements found in most fats and oils, as well as enzymes that break down food particles.


We started with the oil by placing 5 drops of green food coloring in it. Selena’s first observation was that the oil caused the food coloring to form small round beads that just floated on top of the oil.


When we placed a drop of dish soap the first observation that Selena noticed was that the soap started causing these beads of food coloring to break apart and disperse into the oil. I second guessed her hypothesis of what she was seeing, and she came to the conclusion that the dish soap in fact was breaking down the oil making it possible for the beaded food coloring to disperse.


A few more drops of soap and this is what we had in the picture above.


When we dropped the food coloring into the heavy cream, Selena’s observation was that the food coloring did not bead up like in the oil, but made a bit larger blobs, that just rested on top of the cream.


One drop of dish soap was quite a surprise to Selena as it seemed to push the food coloring off to the sides, but also at the same time they lost their rounded shape.


With a couple more drops of dish soap the food coloring dispersed through the heavy cream.


A few drops of food coloring on the sticky honey. Selena’s first observations was that like the rest the food coloring just rested in round globs or bead like, but in the honey they were even larger circles.


Look what one drop of dish soap did here! Now this was very amazing to Selena as the food coloring swirled around in the honey.


We then had a little fun combining drops of the oil and honey into the heavy cream. It was fun to see how each one revealed a different course depending upon it’s make-up.


A few more drops of soap and a few wishing around the container and we could see the full affect of the soap creating suds, and the cream curdling a bit, the oil breaking up and the honey dispersing through the mixture.

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  1. I'm impressed you knew how to answer he question so readily! Looks like it went well! Very neat :).

  2. Really neat experiment! I like how you set up several different substances for her to try out. I might try this too one of these days.