In recent news of the weird, scientists from the UK's University of Bristol announced that, after many tries, they have finally created what they've been after for years: the world's first magnetic soap. Yet even though the team thinks the stuff might be used to clean up industrial-grade messes, the substance doesn't appear to be in danger of replacing the best mouthwashes any time soon.
As reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the soapy stuff has been termed a "magnetic ionic liquid surfactant," or MILS. The team of chemists - from the UK, France, China and Germany - explained that they created the stuff by "dissolving iron in a range of inert surfactant materials composed of chloride and bromide ions, very similar to those found in everyday mouthwash or fabric conditioner. The addition of the iron creates metallic centers within the soap particles."
These little iron-filled suds reportedly respond to magnets very well, which may make them useful for cleaning up spills in a controlled way. However, their use in the mouthwashes are unlikely.
For one thing, the best mouthwashes don't contain surfactants, for reasons that are pretty obvious. Just re-read this snippet from the research team's press release: "...surfactant materials composed of chloride and bromide ions, very similar to those found in everyday mouthwash or fabric conditioner."
If you're wondering what a surfactant is, it's a bubbling or foaming agent - essentially a detergent - found in cheap, alcohol-based mouth rinses. One of the most common such chemicals is called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a detergent and irritant that can lead to canker sores.
So, stick to rinses that are surfactant-, irritant- and alcohol-free, and don't hold your breath for a magnetized mouthwash!