I don't know why I have a fascination with the topic of soap and handwashing, but I do. It's not like I'm a germ freak...though by all rights I should be at this point. lol But I once saw an Oprah show where she hid a camera in the bathroom and recorded her audience members before the show, timing them to see who actually washed their hands long enough to say that they were really clean. It disgusted me to see that the majority of people just don't wash their hands long enough to be effective. Can anyone say "GROSS"?
The tip that Oprah gave was to sing 'Happy Birthday' to yourself...it is exactly the right length of time to measure a hand-washing. I mentioned this on a message board once and will now forever be remembered for THAT little tidbit. Hey, I guess it's better than the girl with two dead babies, right? :o)
So recently, I've been trying to instill in my son that he needs to really lather his hands with soap to get them clean. And like any normal four-year-old, he asked me, "Why?" And I said, "Because it gets them clean." And then he threw me..."How?" Huh. I have no idea.
So now I share with all of you what I have discovered about how soap works and why we should lather really well in order to get our hands clean.
First let's take a look at how soap works on a chemical level. To make soap, you need to combine an acid and a base (or alkali). The acid is fat (fatty acids and triglycerides), and the base is sodium hydroxide (NaOH). The mixture causes the fatty acids to separate from the triglycerides and fuse with the hydroxide ions, forming a salt that we call "soap." Soap has two main functions:
* Decrease water's surface tension
* Bind to dirt, oil and bacteria
It can do these things because one part of the soap molecule is hydrophilic (water-binding) and the other is hydrophobic (water-repellent). The hydrophilic part allows the hydrophobic fatty acids to come into contact with other hydrophobic substances, such as the dirt on the surface that is being cleaned. When the grime adheres to the soap's fatty acids, it becomes encapsulated in droplets of water. Dirt, oil and bacteria are easily scrubbed off and washed away in this suspended state.
May that be my legacy...that I have educated the masses on WHY you need to use soap while singing Happy Birthday to yourselves when you wash your hands.