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How does detergent affect the oil absorbency rate of Polypropylene Pads? Featured science projectScience project video


To carry out this experiment, you will need:

-    600 ml of Engine oil
-    3 liters of water
-    15ml Tide
-    15ml Wisk
-    15ml Jet dry
-    15ml Dawn dish soap
-    2 empty bottles / trays (make sure they are large enough to contain 1 liter of liquid substances)
-    30 equal-sized  polypropylene pads
-    Stirrer
-    Weighing scale


1.    The independent variable of this experiment is the type of detergent used. The dependent variable is the mass of oil absorbed by the polypropylene pad. The constants of this experiment include the amount of water used, the type of oil used, the amount of oil, the amount of detergent and the size of the polypropylene pads.

2.    Fill the container with 600ml of water.

3.    Pour 150ml of Engine oil into the same container.

4.    After that, pour 15ml of Tide into the same container.

5.    Stir and mix the 3 liquids evenly until they dissolve in water.

6.    Leave the mixture to set for 20 minutes.

7.    Weigh a polypropylene pad. Record its weight in the table

8.    Put 1 polypropylene pad into the container containing the mixture.

9.    Leave it to set for another 40 minutes.

10.    Remove the polypropylene pad from the container and let it drip dry for 10 minutes.

11.    Weigh the polypropylene pad and calculate the amount of oil absorbed by subtracting the resultant weight from the original weight of the polypropylene pad (from step 7).

12.    Repeat the steps above for detergents Wisk, Jet dry and Dawn dish soap. For the control group, do not add any detergent into the mixture (omit step 4)

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Complexity level:
Project cost ($):
Time required:
15 minutes preparation time, 15 minutes to observe
Material availability:
Polypropylene pads should be available at hardware shops. If not, students can purchase it in bulk from the supplier. Detergents are available in almost supermarket. Engine oil is available at nearby petrol kiosks and in some supermarkets/hardware stores.
Safety concerns:

Teacher supervision required. Beware of highly flammable oils. Gloves and safety goggles should be worn at all times for safety reasons.