Can we separate soap from oil?

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Offline thedoc

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Can we separate soap from oil?
« on: 12/03/2012 09:09:01 »
Sai Krishna  asked the Naked Scientists:
Dear sir/ madam,

I am B Tech student. I came to know that naked scientists group popularized the news regarding magnetic soap. So, expecting an answer from you, I am writing this question.

Recently magnetic soap was discovered and it's expected to be a future tool for eco-friendly oil spill cleanup.  

But it would be better if we could recover and reuse the spilt oil which is collected along with the surfactant (magnet is used to remove the surfactant once it binds up with oil in sea water).  The key to such possibility seems to be the separation of surfactant molecules from oil molecules.  So, is there any method to do so?  Also since the soap is magnetic can we make significantly magnetic soap film with this magnetic surfactant?

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 12/03/2012 09:09:01 by _system »


Offline Sprool

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Re: Can we separate soap from oil?
« Reply #1 on: 15/03/2012 15:25:17 »
The oil and surfactant can be separated using conventional flocculants.
The soap is not magnetic - the soap contains tiny Iron particles that are attracted to a magnet. Those are two differnt things. This does not mean it will make a magnetic film.
Whether the small nano-clumps of iron within the surfactant can retain some magnetism on their own would need some further research.