Science Questions

Sun, 21st Nov 2004

Part of the show Cloud-dwelling Bacteria, & Ozone Holes

Question

James asked:

Why do bubbles stick together in soapy water ?

Answer

Bubbles are made of an oily substance from. Oily substances like other oily substances just like water likes water. Oil and water don't like mixing, so bubbles stick together and exclude water. The chemistry is similar to how people like to mix with groups of friends, but they don't like to mix with strangers. Soap has an oily bit it sticks into grease and grime. It also has an acid bit on the other end that likes water. Because you have these two parts on one bit of soap, you manage to drag the grease into the water and make these 2 things that don't like to mix, mix together - which is how soap works.

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