Somehow a spider got into the little window that shows the water level on my electric kettle. The kettle doesn't come apart very easily, and it looks like I can't get this part off without breaking it.

I'd hate buying a new kettle just because of a little spider but, I also don't want spider juices with my coffee.

Would bleach/some other household chemical dissolve the spider? Is there some other methodology you can recommend?

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    $\begingroup$ I want to unsee this question. Also, chitin is quite durable, so the prospects are bleak. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Oct 14 '16 at 10:50
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    $\begingroup$ Boil the water a few times and the spider won't give off any more juices. Just like a bag of tea. And the empty husk will be a nice decoration. $\endgroup$ – vapid Oct 14 '16 at 11:10
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    $\begingroup$ I've heard of a guy who had a very similar problem in a bigger scale: a dead cow in a cesspit. He also looked for a way to dissolve it. $\endgroup$ – vapid Oct 14 '16 at 14:57
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    $\begingroup$ Just wash it out with some cold water, should be easy. Why try to kill it? $\endgroup$ – porphyrin Oct 14 '16 at 15:11
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    $\begingroup$ As entertaining as this is, and even though chemists might be likely to know better than most how to dissolve away the little bugger, this is probably a better fit for lifehacks.stackexchange.com. $\endgroup$ – hBy2Py Oct 31 '16 at 21:16

You're not the old lady that swallowed a fly and trying to avoid your lyrical fate, are you?

"Biological" washing powder might do the trick - plenty of proteolytic enzymes - probably take several days at least. Then you'd have to wash out the resultant spider soup.

I hope you like coffee with a lot of body to it.


I would try with warm caustic soda. Possibly with bleach as well. Alternatively, ants.

  • $\begingroup$ Depends on kettle construction. If there are any metal parts, caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) could react in an undesirable fashion. There is a literature on the use of NaOH (usually boiling) to extract proteins and purify chitin derivatives. Be careful. Could end up with goo or glue. $\endgroup$ – Luquettm Apr 9 at 4:52

Crap in, crap out ... Worm castings (dung for all practical purposes) are rich in chitinase, and it is all natural! This link is an example of a liquid product - whole bottle for $13.95 You would need to sanitize as a final step. The worms eat cow dung to produce their primo bug dissolving poop. If you are averse to this, study how you may be able to extract chitinase from plant matter. Wikipedia states "Chitinases occur naturally in many common foods. Bananas, chestnuts, kiwis, avocados, papaya, and tomatoes, for example, all contain significant levels of chitinase, as defense against fungal and invertebrate attack." You may be able to make a do it yourself crude extract considering the reported method by Sanchez-Monge et al (Clinical and Experimental Allergy,1999, Volume 29, pages 673–680) is as follows: "Canary banana (Musa paradisiaca L., an hybrid of M. acuminata Colla M. balbisiana Colla) fruits were peeled, cut in short pieces, freeze-dried, ground in a mortar with cold acetone, and then defatted with the same solvent (3x, 1 : 5 (w/v); 1 h; 48 C). The dried residue was extracted with PBS buffer (0.1 M sodium phosphate, pH 7.0, 0.15 M NaCl; 1x; 1 : 5 (w/v); 1 h; 48 C), and after centrifugation, the supernatant was dialysed against H2O and freeze-dried(crude extract). Alternatively, the PBS-extracted supernatant was brought to pH 3.5 by addition of 0.1 M HCl to obtain a protein preparation enriched in chitinases [18]. After centrifugation, the supernatant of the acidic treatment was dialysed against H2O and freeze-dried." Be careful with acidification. Acid may react with metal. A do it yourself pH test can be done with red cabbage juice.

Your can may be able to osmotically chip at him. Ethanol will dehydrate the tissue. Then water will swell the tissue. Repeat the cycle. This will also extract lipids.

Only molecules left would be proteins. Other posts talk about proteases. But at this point detergent should liberate proteins.


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