Magnetic soap? Why it could be a good idea

Magnetic soap (Credit: Image courtesy of Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL))

It may sound silly at first, but the discovery of magnetic soap could lead to a way to reclaim soaps used in industry and in disasters like oil spills.

Scientists from the University of Bristol have developed a soap, composed of iron rich salts dissolved in water, that responds to a magnetic field when placed in solution. The soap’s magnetic properties were proved with neutrons at the Institut Laue-Langevin to result from tiny iron-rich clumps that sit within the watery solution. The generation of this property in a fully functional soap could calm concerns over the use of soaps in oil-spill clean ups and revolutionise industrial cleaning products.

This is another product that needs further development, but it could prove to be a useful tool for removing pollutants from the environment.

Professor Julian Eastoe, University of Bristol: “From a commercial point of view, though these exact liquids aren’t yet ready to appear in any household product, by proving that magnetic soaps can be developed, future work can reproduce the same phenomenon in more commercially viable liquids for a range of applications from water treatment to industrial cleaning products.”

The BBC has more on the topic here.