Rough Science
Explore the Challenges
Meet the Rough Scientists
About the TV Series
Discover More
Site Map
Explore the Challenges

The Challenge: Make Soap


  • You MUST wear protective rubber gloves and eye protection (prescription glasses should do) throughout, as well as a cotton housecoat or apron to protect your clothes from splashes.

  • You MUST read and understand all the warnings printed on the caustic soda container before you start this experiment. The solutions you’ll be handling are caustic, and will burn your skin on contact. They will also damage most kitchen surfaces.

    If you get any:
    • on your skin, rinse it off with copious amounts of running water, until your skin no longer feels soapy
    • in your eyes, wash them immediately with cold running water, and call 911
    • in your mouth, wash it out with water until the unpleasant taste has disappeared.

  • Never use aluminium or zinc utensils; they will react with the sodium hydroxide solution.

  • Have a large bowl of clean, cold water handy, for use in the event of an accident.

  • Remove all food and drink from your work area, and keep children and animals well away from your workspace and chemicals.

  • Always work in a well-ventilated area (if possible, outside), and avoid working on your own.