Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oil vs Soap vs Water

Soap vs. oil vs. water:

Water alone is not able to penetrate grease or oil because they are of opposite polarity.

When grease or oil (non-polar hydrocarbons) are mixed with a soap- water solution, the soap molecules work as a "bridge" between polar water molecules and non-polar oil molecules. Soap molecules have both properties of non-polar and polar at opposite ends of the molecule.

The oil is a pure hydrocarbon so it is non-polar. The non-polar hydrocarbon tail of the soap dissolves into the oil. That leaves the polar carboxylate ion of the soap molecules are sticking out of the oil droplets, the surface of each oil droplet is negatively charged. As a result, the oil droplets repel each other and remain suspended in solution (this is called an emulsion) to be washed away by a stream of water. The outside of the droplet is also coated with a layer of water molecules.

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