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Soap Project

By Baxter, Brock

April 22, 2018

We use soap everyday, I hope, and many of us do not understand how it does what it does. It just so happens, there is a lot of chemistry going on when soap removes dirt and oil from our hands, clothes, and dishes. A soap molecule has a very unique structure, and that structure is the reason things get clean. So for our final chemistry project this year, I decided to have the kids research, make, and market soap. This new idea came with some apprehension as I've never done this before, and soap recipes require a very basic substance called lye (very basic substances can burn skin just like strong acids so one should use caution when handling such liquids/solids). Anyway, not really knowing how to carry out a task as daunting as making soap makes the teacher (me) just as anxious as the students (but I also embrace a challenge and think taking a chance is worth the time). As luck would have it, however, our location would prove to be in our favor for this somewhat ambitious endeavor. I found out a man sells homemade soaps throughout the local area, and Melvern's convenience store, Circle L, is one of those businesses. To make a long story shorter, I contacted him and he helped us learn about and make soap. The gentleman, George Phoenix of Old Hippie Soap, took the time to teach us a little something about soap, and make the stuff. One day last week he brought all his utensils, many oils and scents, some soap molds, and helped the kids properly measure and mix the ingredients. His expertise really came in handy and also proved to the kids that research doesn't always have to be exclusively done via books and/or the internet (keep in mind, however, research can't be done without the aforementioned sources!). When possible ask an expert for help. What is the worst that can happen, they say no! We asked for help from someone with more experience, in a particular area of study, than we had, and it worked out! We appreciate Mr. Phoenix sharing his time and knowledge to this community, and now we'll see which group made the best soap as decided by their peers in a blind survey.

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