Stainless steel soap
Stainless-steel soap is just that: a slab of stainless steel used for alleged cleansing purposes — although it isn't very soapy.
That it doesn't actually work at all is, of course, no barrier to its adoption.
The underlying idea is that the iron or chromium in the stainless steel soap binds sulfur compounds that cause the strong odors of garlic, onions, and other food items. This chemical binding does occur with many catalysts in much more forced conditions, but there's no proof that it happens in kitchen sink conditions.
It seems likelier that any effects from the stainless steel soap are actually due to the actions of running water and friction, and that a chunk of rubber, plastic, or something similarly solid would yield comparable results.
Comparison with actual soap
Traditional soap has the detergent quality that arises from its combination of organic acids with inorganic ions, resulting in a product that allows normally insoluble oil and grease to emulsify more easily with water. Stainless steel soap lacks these detergent properties.
Does it work?
There doesn't seem to be much evidence for it. NPR in 2006 suggested there were no scientific studies into its effects.
NPR asked retired chemistry professor Bob Wolke to try it out, and he found it didn't remove garlic odor from his hands. Buzzfeed conducted an informal experiment that compared it with soap and two other alleged solutions, coffee grounds and antiseptic mouthwash. The stainless steel soap beat the mouthwash but was less effective than coffee grounds, and the best at removing odor was... SOAP.
- Stainless steel soap does not melt or dissolve in water nearly as quickly as conventional soaps. It's probably safe to say that one bar will last a lifetime.
- If you've ever run out of dishwasher soap and attempted to run the dishwasher using ordinary dish or household soap, you know what a mess that can make. Stainless steel soap does not cause this problem.[notes 1]
- If it happens to slip down the garbage disposal, you'll know instantly.
- Endorsed by the Stainless Steel Rat.
- Can be used to defend oneself if ever attacked in the shower — though this might count as use of deadly
- The "soap on a
chainrope" version doubles as a medieval weapon.
- If your house ever gets hit by a jet airliner, rest assured that the government is lying if they report failing to recover your steel soap unharmed (since jet fuel can't melt steel soaps).
- If lost, can be found with metal detectors.
- Vegan friendly, maan!
- Can be made out of recycled materials.
- Holds an edge better than most other brands of soap; perfect for making a shank if you're in prison. Assuming you can sharpen it — if not, just dumping the bar into a sock and spinning it is likely the way to go.
- It works very good as a paperweight.
- No risk of soap drop, because it's not the least bit slippery — even in water.
- It won't leave behind gunky soap scum.
- You can be sure your roommate wouldn't use the stainless steel soap to jerk off.
- You can play the "cold stethoscope on someone's skin" as a prank.
- Definitely cooler than the typical soap bar.
- Great for squashing annoying fairies
- It doesn't work.
- Liquid form irritates skin badly. (It also makes skin disappear.)[notes 2]
- Not recommended for soap carving (unless you
are on aciduse acid).
- Will hurt if you drop it on your toes.
- Can't be used to make soap bubbles.
- Not organic.
- Poor lubricant.
- Doesn't really make suds all that well below 1370°C (2500°F).
- If you catch your kids using their pottymouth, they might need their mouths cleaned with soap and water — just remember that, if using this soap to do it, your children will also need dentures.
- Probably not a good idea to place in a microwave.
- If you throw away a bar in anger you will probably break something or even hurt someone.
- Iron and steel are generally not recommended for the wee folk.
- It has no scent.
- Does a Bit of Steel Get Rid of That Garlic Smell, NPR
- What is Stainless Steel Soap, wiseGEEK
- Stainless steel soap, New York Times.
- Stainless steel soap, Australian ABC, audio.
- What? It isn't like anything like this would have ever happened to me.
- If you're a silicon-based lifeform that lives in molten rock, this is not a problem. But why are you reading a Wiki by carbon and liquid water-based lifeforms for carbon and liquid water-based lifeforms?
- German patent DE10001728C2, via Google Patents, accessed Oct 8, 2021.
- How Does Stainless Steel Remove Odors? About.com, 2009.
- Why Stainless Steel Erases Garlic's Aroma, Huffington Post, March 13, 2012
- What is Stainless Steel Soap?, Michael Pollick, Delighted Cooking, August 18, 2021
- Does a Bit of Steel Get Rid of That Garlic Smell?, NPR, Nov 11, 2006
- I Tried Getting Rid Of Garlic Smell With A Weirdly Fascinating Stainless Steel Soap, Buzzfeed, July 31, 2018