Ivory Soap Microwave Experiment: “Wow” kids and grown-ups alike with a quick and easy science experiment that you can do at home.
We do the expanding Ivory Soap experiment a couple of times a year here in my daycare, and it never fails to impress and excite us. It’s one of our favourite quick and easy science experiments, but the process and the results are nothing short of awesome! This is an experiment that never gets old, no matter how many times we do it.
Today, I’m going to show you how you can do the Ivory experiment at your house or in your classroom, and at the end of the post, I’ll suggest a few ways to use your soapy results.
You’ll need 3 things to conduct the Ivory Soap Microwave Experiment:
- bar of ivory soap (do not try this with any other brand of soap)
- microwaveable dinner plate
Before you begin, you can take a few minutes to let the children examine the soap. Use descriptive words as you take turns holding it, feeling it and smelling it. If you have an extra bar of Ivory, you could drop the spare bar into a bowl of water to see how it floats. I just wouldn’t wet the bar that you’re putting in the microwave. I’m not sure how that would affect the experiment.
Conducting your Ivory Soap Experiment:
- Place your Ivory on a microwaveable plate
- Put your soap in the microwave
- Run microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. Today I set my microwave for 1:20. You can’t really over-cook it, but it will reach a point where it stops expanding.
You’ll want to pull up a chair or stool for your child to stand on so they can watch what happens to the soap in the microwave. This part of the process is fascinating!
The soap will start to rapidly expand at about the 15 second mark. To see it rolling, writhing and expanding as if it were alive is really exciting!
When your microwave stops, remove the soap and examine it.
Doesn’t your kitchen smell amazing? Don’t worry, that smell should leave your microwave quickly, and it will not affect the flavour of any cooking you do.
Caution! The plate and soap will be quite hot for a minute or so after being removed from the microwave. They cool down quickly but give the soap a few minutes before letting your children handle it.
Examining your fluffy Ivory soap cloud:
Once your soap has cooled, it’s time to have some fun! Let your children investigate how the soap has changed.
Today, I placed ours in a large baking dish and the girls chopped it all up with pate knives. They also rubbed it between their hands to crush and crumble it. This is such an amazing sensory experience. The soap is so smooth and silky. It feels lovely, and it smells incredible!
What can you do with the results of your Ivory Soap experiment?
We usually do this experiment when it’s time to make a new batch of our Homemade Laundry Detergent. Grab the recipe for my detergent, and your children can help you turn your soap powder into laundry soap.
Our favourite way to use our crumbled soap though, is to use it for sensory play! We grab a roll of toilet paper and some water and the hooligans whip up a batch of ghost mud or fairy mud. It’s a mouldable dough that smells wonderful and keeps them entertained for hours.
Today however, we used our soap powder for an entirely new activity, so stay tuned! I’ll be writing about it soon!
Head over to Steve Spangler Science to find out the science behind the Ivory Soap Microwave Experiment!