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Surprising Science

New Magnetic Soap Could Revolutionize Cleaning

Scientists at a British university have created the world's first soap sensitive to magnetic fields. The product could could calm concerns over the use of soaps in oil-spill clean ups.

What’s the Latest Development?

British scientists have developed a magnetic soap which can be controlled after it is added to another solution, representing a potentially big gain when it comes to cleaning industrial zones and spilled toxins. The soap was created “by dissolving iron in a range of inert surfactant materials composed of chloride and bromide ions, very similar to those found in everyday mouthwash or fabric conditioner. The addition of the iron creates metallic centres within the soap particles.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Whenever systems are developed that respond only to outside stimuli, such as soap that responds to magnets, a breakthrough is achieved since the system will work only when it is needed to. The soap’s selective response “allows a range of properties, such as its electrical conductivity, melting point, the size and shape of aggregates and how readily its dissolves in water to be altered by a simple magnetic on and off switch.” An easily controllable soap could aid in environmental clean ups, such as oil spills, and water treatment.

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