Ivory Soap Explosion

Ivory Soap

Ivory Soap: Pure, Simple, Floats, EXPOLDS!

Kind of. . .maybe a better word is inflates…

For more than 75 years, Ivory soap’s most famous feature—its ability to float—was believed to be the result of a lunchtime mistake.

The story begins with an employee who forgot to shut off the soap-making machine when he went to lunch. He returned to find the soap mixture puffed up and frothy. However, because the longer mixing time had not altered the ingredients, the soap was finished and shipped as usual.

About a month later, when Proctor & Gamble started receiving requests for more of the “floating soap,” an investigation was launched and the accident was discovered. The forgotten lunchtime mistake had produced floating soap.

However, in 2009, P&G came clean after coming across evidence from James N. Gamble’s inventor notes. It’s possible that Gamble may have intended for Ivory soap to float all along.

The real story? No one knows for sure if the soap floated by mistake or design, but today Ivory floats because a small amount of air is whipped into each Ivory bar as it’s being made. The whipped-in air makes Ivory lighter than water, so it floats.

These same air pockets also make each bar of Ivory velvety smooth, easy to lather, and allows you to blow it up in the microwave.

My teen and I have a long history of blowing things up, from plastic bottles to Twinkies, and I am happy to report, as one might expect, this experiment has been the easiest one to clean up after.

Ivory Soap Blows Up from Katybeth on Vimeo.

Following the experiment, the inflated Ivory soap can be molded into balls and other shapes and used in the bathtub or sink. If I were the mother of a little kid, I would add food coloring and let him or her play with the soap in the sink until it melted away. Or keep the pieces of soap by the bathtub for bath time fun.

Odd Loves Company,

10 thoughts on “Ivory Soap Explosion

  1. This is so cool. I can’t wait to try it with the kids. I even have a few bars of “fresh Ivory” The video was great.

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  3. This experiment even I can handle and this is the perfect weekend to try it. My oldest may have done this in preschool so I’ll him be the expert. A role he relishes. THANK YOU.

    • So easy and clean up is a snap. Unless you allow water play in the sink. I would go for the tub. :-D. Great way to involve your oldest.

  4. Ooh, what fun — blowing stuff up. Sounds “cleaner” than tossing a mug onto the floor, don’t you think (though maybe not quite as satisfying?!)

    • Drop the mug. 😀 Two entirely different experiments.
      Very fun. I would love to do it with a little kid. I’ll have to borrow one of my friends Emily’s kids. She is very generous.

      • Ha! Your homey smell comment reminded me of the afternoon I came home to that homey smell. A bar of soap was apparently left somewhere too low where Sam, the miniature schnauzer, dined on it. Made him sick which left the house smelling very homey. At 1st it was pleasant…….the more I cleaned, the less pleasant it became!

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