Friday, June 10, 2011

A Better Soap

In our family's recent stay at a hotel in Maine, we found the following peculiar soaps in our bathroom.

Do you think mice ate the centers of the soaps, or the design is intentional? Does a soap with a hole in it have any advantages over the traditional fully-filled oval-shaped soap? Can you suggest any improvement to this design that can make this soap even more advantageous?

Answers accepted all day long on Friday June 10th and Saturday June 11th, on our Family Puzzle Marathon. They will be hidden until Sunday morning (EST) and everyone who solved it will get a puzzle point. Please, explain your answer.


Anonymous said...

It could be intentional because it is easier to grab.
I would pay attention to the quality of the soap because I will be afraid that it collapses easily but nothing more expensive because it is a soap for a hotel.

SteveGoodman18 said...

The hole creates a greater surface area, which might lead to a quicker lather build-up. However, I would think it also leads to quicker melting of the soap and therefore a shorter life-time. (White Castle hamburger patties have holes in them to cook faster).

Perhaps the hole also creates a built-in handle so that darn soap will stop slipping out of one's hands?

My biggest issue with soap is how fast it melts, so I would go for a spherical soap - one that minimizes surface area for a fixed volume.

Mai Barker said...

This soap design certainly has advantages over the traditional soap designs. First, the cut-out in this soap allows for easier gripping and thus less soap dropping. Also, I would presume that there will also be less left over soap bits, as this soap will be used evenly on all sides.

The only improvement that I can think of for this design is to add finger grooves in the inside of the center cut-out. This would allow for even easier gripping of the soap.

Lynnet said...

It means that you can hold the soap more easily so you don't keep dropping it. I would make the hole in the middle a bit smaller so that there would be more soap

Tom said...

It "was" intentional of course. Likely it was not saving much money, but is intended to make the soaps distinctive and memorable. Might work.

This design may be intended to make the soaps more "efficient" by increasing the surface-to-volume ratio. They've not done much here. A wafer does that better. Or one could cast the soap in a comb-like design, which would be really fragile, and maybe kinky. A sphere is the WORST design for surface exposure. And a liquid would probably be the BEST, and also most economical.

But I think economy is not the issue here, nor is suds.

Bean said...

Thoughts on soap:
- The shape maximizes surface area, like ice cubes with holes. Is this important for soap? I'm not sure
- The hole makes the soap look bigger, and more like soap at home, while still having the volume of a hotel bar. Not sure people are bothered by small soap, but it appears more generous.
- This soap is going to break into little slippery shards fairly quickly...maybe Pk for travel, but I'd say wasteful in the long run. A "real" bar would leave fear unusable shards, so last longer.
-While the holes whole, you can get a nice grip on this soap.
- Do other rooms have small ovalish pieces cut from the centers of these? Extending the soap by creatively making two out of one?
- It looks hand milled...what would the mold be?

I don't love the advantages of this design, because I hate soap shards. The man advantage seems to be economy, but I am happy with small bars. The extra sudsing from added surface area doesn't seem worth the shard problem. So maybe I'm maxing an advantage...

Anonymous said...

I agree with you all that the most striking advantages are convinience of holding and memorable design.

But of course, this is not all. I wouldn't be posting it here, if not for some hidden math.

The soap is claimed to be "waste reducing" and was designed to eliminate the unused center of the traditional soap bars.

Clever! On a first thought...
On a second, it seems to me like a chicken-and-egg problem. While traditional soap bars leave the unused little oval that is missing in this soap, this soap will leave a torus-shaped piece.

It appears that in order to really address the issue of wasted oval center one needs to create a traditionally-looking soap with a hollow center (perhaps blown in, like in glass blowing or jelly-filled doughnuts) that is invisible from the outside and can't be touched by water.

Many of you mentioned that this soap provides more soap per wash due to the larger surface area, however also melts faster due to the same reason.

Thank you SteveGoodman18 for an interesting analogy with a hamburger patties with a hole in a center for faster cooking. Sounds like a great idea for my husband who likes well-done and not very meaty, unless it break fast.

Bean - I don't think other rooms have the missing center pieces of my soap, perhaps these little ovals are used by a spa. A clever suggestion!

Everyone who shared their thoughts here deserve a puzzle point: Anah (anne-marie), SteveGoodman18, Mai Barker (and welcome to the marathon), Lynnet, Tom and Bean.

If you want to buy a soap like this, it is manufactured by Green Natura company.


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