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, which 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 cleanups and revolutionize industrial cleaning products.

To test its properties, the team introduced a magnet to a test tube containing their new soap, lying beneath a less dense organic solution. When the magnet was introduced, the iron-rich soap overcame both gravity and surface tension between the water and oil, levitating through the organic solvent and reaching the source of the magnetic energy.

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