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Molecular Biology Science Fair Project

Does Detergent Affect Oil Absorbency?

Does Detergent Affect Oil Absorbency? | Science Fair Projects | STEM Projects
We're testing to see if detergent affects the oil absorbency rate of polypropylene pads. We'll measure the mass of oil absorbed by the pads after adding different types of detergent to the mixture.


The hypothesis is that detergent decreases the ability of polypropylene pads to absorb oil spills.

Method & Materials

You will fill a container with water and oil, add detergent, stir, and leave it to set. Then, you will put a polypropylene pad into the container and leave it to set. After that, you will remove the pad and measure the mass of oil absorbed.
You will need 600ml of engine oil, 3 liters of water, 15ml of Tide, Wisk, Jet dry, and Dawn dish soap, 2 empty bottles/trays, 30 equal-sized polypropylene pads, a stirrer, and a weighing scale.


The results of the experiment show that detergents do interfere with the oil absorbency of polypropylene pads, though the difference is not very significant. This experiment can help educate the public to be aware of the effect of detergents on the oil absorbency of polypropylene pads.

Why do this project?

This science project is interesting because it helps us understand how detergents can affect the oil absorbency of polypropylene pads, which can be used to soak up oil spills and leaks.

Also Consider

Variations to consider: Will temperature affect the absorbency of polypropylene pads? Besides detergents, what other liquids might affect the absorbency of polypropylene pads? What might happen if another type of oil was used instead of Engine oil?

Full project details

You can find additional information and details for this science fair project here. Have fun exploring!

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