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Name: Lekey
Status: student
Grade: 6-8
Location: KY
Country: N/A
Date: September 2007

Why does laundry detergent make your hand feel hot when you get it wet?

We were looking at the different characteristics of bases and acids. We touched bases such as baking soda and laundry detergent and we added water to them to feel their slipperiness when they got wet (isn't that a characteristic of a base?). We noticed that when you hold laundry detergent in your hand and it gets wet, your hand suddenly feels hot.


When some substances are mixed together, the interaction between the substances produces heat. This heat can make the environment, in this case-your hand, turn warm.

When two substances are mixed together, three things happen:

(1) the interactions between the less abundant molecules (considered the solute) have to be broken, this requires energy -usually in the form of heat,

(2) some of the interactions between the more abundant molecules (considered the solvent) have to be broken, this also requires heat, and

(3) interactions between the solute and the solvent have to be made, this releases energy. If 1 and 2 combined is less than 3 (it usually is), than there is an excess of released energy and the environment, usually the solvent or anything around it, warms up.

Greg (Roberto Gregorius)

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