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.
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,