Problem: Soaps consist of compounds such as sodium stearate, CH3(CH2)16COO–Na+, that have both hydrophobic and hydrophilic parts. Consider the hydrocarbon part of sodium stearate to be the "tail" and the charged part to be the "head."Grease is a complex mixture of (mostly) hydrophobic compounds. Which part of sodium stearate, head or tail, is most likely to bind to grease?

🤓 Based on our data, we think this question is relevant for Professor Karn's class at OSU.

FREE Expert Solution

We’re being asked to determine which part of sodium stearate, head or tail, is most likely to bind to grease. 


We’re going to use the theory “likes” dissolving “likes”  which states that the solvent can only completely dissolve the solute if they share similar polarity

Therefore, substances with similar polarity can successfully mix or bind with each other. 


We know that Sodium stearate, CH3(CH2)16COONahas both hydrophobic and hydrophilic parts.


Recall that:


  • "hydrophillic" means it will dissolve or mix in water
  • "hydrophobic" means it does not dissolve or mix in water.


We also know that grease is a complex mixture of (mostly) hydrophobic compounds.


This means that we need to determine the part of sodium stearate with the same polarity as grease.

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Problem Details

Soaps consist of compounds such as sodium stearate, CH3(CH2)16COONa+, that have both hydrophobic and hydrophilic parts. Consider the hydrocarbon part of sodium stearate to be the "tail" and the charged part to be the "head."

Grease is a complex mixture of (mostly) hydrophobic compounds. Which part of sodium stearate, head or tail, is most likely to bind to grease?

Frequently Asked Questions

What scientific concept do you need to know in order to solve this problem?

Our tutors have indicated that to solve this problem you will need to apply the Solutions, Molarity and Intermolecular Forces concept. You can view video lessons to learn Solutions, Molarity and Intermolecular Forces. Or if you need more Solutions, Molarity and Intermolecular Forces practice, you can also practice Solutions, Molarity and Intermolecular Forces practice problems.

What professor is this problem relevant for?

Based on our data, we think this problem is relevant for Professor Karn's class at OSU.