Chemical Mystery #17: Bubble Buster!

text: Bubble Bursting Water Chemistry

With most of us stuck at home to combat the recent outbreak of COVID-19, I thought it might be a particularly good time to do some simple chemistry experiments that use only items found around the home (well, more like purchased at my local grocery store). In this vein I thought I’d share the following “Chemical Mystery” that only requires the use of soap and water:

 

Video 1: Tommy Technetium YouTube Channel, Published 4/24/2020.

 

Can you describe the differences observed using your knowledge of chemistry? I’ll share the solution in a couple of days, along with some ways you might incorporate this experiment into the chemistry curriculum.

Safety

General Safety

For Laboratory Work: Please refer to the ACS .  

For Demonstrations: Please refer to the ACS Division of Chemical Education .

Other Safety resources

: Recognize hazards; Assess the risks of hazards; Minimize the risks of hazards; Prepare for emergencies

 

NGSS

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to explanations and designs that are supported by multiple and independent student-generated sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories.

Summary:

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to explanations and designs that are supported by multiple and independent student-generated sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories. Construct and revise an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students’ own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

Assessment Boundary:
Clarification:

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to explanations and designs that are supported by multiple and independent student-generated sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories.

Summary:

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to explanations and designs that are supported by multiple and independent student-generated sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories. Construct and revise an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students’ own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

Assessment Boundary:
Clarification:
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Comments 4

Andres Tretiakov's picture
Andres Tretiakov | Sat, 04/25/2020 - 09:19

Hi Tom, 

This is really nice thanks! & so easy will definitively show this when discussing hard water. As you may or may not know water from the mains (tap water)  in London is quite hard and we constantly have to de-scale the kettles, washing machine, iron, etc. That's why I use washing soda in washing machine to remove calcium & magnesium ions (ion exchange with sodium) and soften the water. Maybe you could try that in the next video or add on. What would happen when you put soap, tap water and washing soda? Will you get bubbles when blowing through a straw. Another idea is using oxalic acid as a ligand (maybe from spinach or Rhubarb remember?) to test the calcium ion concentration of different water samples by qualitatively comparing the white ppt formed. Starting with distilled or deionised water at one end and lime water at the other. Then you could compare it to the concentration on the labels of different mineral water bottles. Hope this give you more ideas!

Cheers, 

Andres

Tom Kuntzleman's picture
Tom Kuntzleman | Sat, 04/25/2020 - 11:28

Andres:

As usual, you know your chemistry...

I've already made the video for the explanation and indeed have incorporated some of the ideas you suggest above. I guess great minds think alike. I wish I would have talked with you prior to making the video as I could have included some of your additional ideas. Thank you for your suggestions for further experimentation...I know we both enjoy further experimentation!

Sandrine Bouchelkia | Tue, 04/28/2020 - 02:51

That's a really nice demo and thank you Andres for the idea of using oxalic acid from spinach or rhubard and why not compare the two? There is a practcal about testing water in our curiculum so that fits really well. Always nice to be able to add a demo that attract the students attention (making bubbles is always a winner) and make them think.

Tom Kuntzleman's picture
Tom Kuntzleman | Wed, 04/29/2020 - 12:41

Thank you for commenting, Sandrine! Looks like I might have some experiments in my future involving Evian water, rhubarb, and soap...