consumer chemistry

Colorful Lather Printing

In this Activity, students marble paper with shaving cream and food color while exploring water, polarity, and hydrophilic and hydrophobic materials. Although the Activity is familiar, it contains a new twist—exploring how a colored shaving cream mixture behaves when a drop of water is added. This Activity can be used to introduce the concepts of polarity, soaps, and surfactants.

Testing for Iodide in Table Salt

In this Activity, students use supermarket chemicals to test samples of table salt for the presence of iodine, an essential micronutrient added as iodide ion. The presence of iodide in the salt is made apparent by the appearance of a blue color.

Apple Fool! An Introduction to Artificial Flavors

In this Activity, students investigate flavorings by making artificial "cooked apples" from a mixture of crackers, sugar, cream of tartar, and water, as is done for the filling in recipes for Mock Apple Pie. This Activity focuses on consumer chemistry, and can be used to introduce natural and artificial flavors or lab experiments that make esters.

Some Like It Hot, Some Like It Cold

In this Activity, students combine liquids in a calorimeter and use a thermometer to determine if the reaction mixture gets hot or cold. All of the chemicals (yeast, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and baking soda) except ammonium nitrate, are available in supermarkets.

Calories - Who's Counting?

In this Activity, students determine how many calories are released per gram when marshmallows and cashews burn and then compare the quantity of energy available from carbohydrates versus fats. Students burn the food items beneath a metal soft drink can containing water and measure the resulting change in temperature of the water.

A Magnetic Meal

In this Activity, students make slurries of breakfast cereal and water and use a magnetic wand to collect elemental iron filings that are present in some cereals. They determine the mass of iron collected and then calculate the "recommended daily allowance" (RDA) in each cereal. An extension uses qualitative tests to confirm that the material collected is actually iron.

Chemistry of Cement

In this Activity, students use a commercial cement mix to produce concrete. They investigate how changing key variables such as concentrations, curing temperatures, and the addition of various substances affects properties such as setting time, hardness, and plasticity.

Through the Looking Glass

In this Activity, students compare several different window cleaner recipes to determine the purpose each ingredient in a window cleaner serves. They use different combinations of water (solvent), isopropyl alcohol (wetting agent), and ammonia (grease cutter). They then develop their own "New and Improved" recipe to test its performance against commercial window cleaner.

What's Gluep? Characterizing a Cross-Linked Polymer

In this Activity, students make a cross-linked polymer called "gluep" using white glue and borax solution. They then investigate its properties, and "un-gluep" and "re-gluep" it using vinegar and baking soda. This Activity can be used in discussions of polymers or properties of liquids and solids. It demonstrates the composition and alternative use of a common household product.