MadSci Network: Microbiology

Re: Antibacterial soap experiment

Date: Tue Dec 8 17:41:35 1998
Posted By: David Beck, MadSci Admin
Area of science: Microbiology
ID: 913145261.Mi

First, DO NOT use phenol. It is a compound that can kill you if you are exposed 
to A LOT of it. It can be absorbed through the skin. But I will tell you that 
phenol is toxic to bacteria, but also toxic to humans.

Now why is there more of that white bacteria colony after you wash your hands. 
Did you spread some of the soap on a petri plate? Often bar soap, and especially 
soft (liquid) soap has bacteria in it. You can check that.

Did you check the water that you are using. Tap water is not sterile, there are 
a lot of bacteria in it. This is not bad, as the number of bacteria is low 
enough that your body kills most of them. You should plate some of the water on 
a petri dish.

A third thing that can happen is that you dislodge the bacteria that are on your 
skin and thus it looks like there are more than before. Some bacteria adhere 
more tightly than others and you may be rubbing them loose but not off. This is 
less likely if you are using the hand-washing technique you read about in my 
previous posting.

Best Wishes,
David Beck 

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