Questions tagged [everyday-chemistry]

Applications of chemistry to reagents, reactions and processes of everyday life. Use this tag for question on chemistry in an out-of-laboratory/class context. DO NOT use this tag merely because the question is about simple chemistry.

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89
votes
7answers
214k views

Is it actually possible to dispose of a body with hydrofluoric acid?

In the TV show "Breaking Bad", Walter White frequently gets rid of people who get in his way by submerging them in a plastic container full of hydrofluoric acid. This, at least in the TV show, ...
8
votes
2answers
367 views

Ozone is above, nitrogen is below

Ozone is heavier than nitrogen. Then why is ozone in stratosphere and nitrogen in troposphere?
69
votes
6answers
19k views

Why would breathing pure oxygen be a bad idea?

My textbook mentions that SCUBA tanks often contain a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen along with a little helium which serves as a diluent. Now as I remember it, divers take care not to surface too ...
69
votes
5answers
15k views

How do people know HCN smells like almonds?

I was told by my chemistry teacher that $\ce{HCN}$ smells like almonds. She then went on to tell a story about how some of her students tried to play a prank on her by pouring almond extract down the ...
44
votes
8answers
21k views

Why is the recipe of Coca Cola still a secret?

Why is the recipe for Coca-Cola still a secret? I think that given the current state of technology, it should be proficient enough to find any of the secret ingredients in Coca Cola. Any thoughts? ...
20
votes
3answers
5k views

What are the chemical reactions behind fire?

I've always wondered what the chemistry behind fire is. What are the basic chemical reactions behind a simple wood fire, and how do they manifest into this phenomenon?
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Why does paper turn yellow over time?

Yesterday I saw a bill of some book which I bought 6 months back. Then this question struck my mind: "Why does paper turn yellow over time"? I remember my teacher saying some organic compound was ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

What happens during cleaning silverware?

I know two distinct recipes for cleaning silver: Put them into a pot with some club soda and a piece of aluminium foil and pour over a hot water. Gently clean silverware with a fine chalk powder (...
4
votes
4answers
660 views

How do things glow in the dark?

What makes something glow in the dark? The only explanation that I can come up with for what makes things glow in the dark is that there is probably a chemical reaction slowly releasing the light that ...
-2
votes
1answer
165 views

Frequency of Mpemba Effect

What are the chances of warm water freezing faster than cold water? (How many percent?) Does it have to do with container size or something in it?
89
votes
8answers
46k views

Is toothpaste solid or liquid?

My teacher didn't answer this properly: Is toothpaste solid or liquid? You can't say toothpaste is a solid because solid material have a fixed shape but toothpaste doesn't. However, you can't say ...
19
votes
3answers
7k views

Why does milk overflow when boiled?

I was wondering that like whenever I boil milk I just have to keep standing in front of it to make sure that I don't waste any milk but then I was wondering like Why does it even overflow ? In case of ...
11
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5answers
20k views

Is it possible to separate/remove sugar from common drinks, such as juice?

Is it possible to remove sugar from a drink (for example, juice) using common household equipment?
9
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4answers
80k views

Why calcium chloride is used to melt ice over sodium chloride

I'm not quite sure I understand this. My question is: Calcium chloride is a salt used widely to melt ice on sidewalks and roads. Explain why one mole of $\ce{CaCl2}$ would be more effective than ...
7
votes
3answers
24k views

Why do other sugars melt whereas sucrose decomposes?

Sucrose decomposes at 186 °C. It doesn’t melt but when it reaches decomposition temperature, sucrose decomposes into fructose and glucose. After cooling and hardening it is no longer sucrose. Am I ...
7
votes
2answers
10k views

Why does milk flake?

While drinking milk (or better 'while seeing the milk I'm gonna drink') a question came up to my mind: Why does the milk sometimes flake, even if not in contact with some other substances? I guess ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does zinc sulfide glow?

Zinc sulfide is used in road signs because when light from cars hit the road signs, it glows. What actually is the reason for the glowing of road signs (actually glowing of $\ce{ZnS}$)?
2
votes
1answer
166 views

When it rains, it puddles. Spilled salt cycles between wet and dry with humidity. Is this akin to a phase change?

I have some spilled un-iodized table salt (NaCl). It is very humid where I live, and when it gets very humid for a few days, the salt absorbs so much water that it becomes a puddle of (probably) ...
164
votes
1answer
35k views

Why can we smell copper?

If I can smell an object, it means that molecules of it are getting separated from it, so they can reach my nose. As far as I know, metals don't sublimate, especially not in room temperature. However, ...
30
votes
4answers
12k views

Why is methanol toxic?

There are two points of view for the answer of this question: The biological view, the only one that I faced during my research, states that since it can trigger perilous conditions like metabolic ...
19
votes
4answers
60k views

Why is salt needed when using vinegar to clean pennies?

Let's say you have a solution that is vinegar and it has salt (NaCl) dissolved in it. Then you place old dull pennies in it. Then you look at it 5 minutes later and the pennies are clean and looking ...
38
votes
2answers
7k views

Why does whipped cream use nitrous oxide instead of nitrogen gas?

It seems that nitrous oxide $(\ce{N2O})$ is frequently used to create whipped cream. But why can't just regular nitrogen gas $(\ce{N2})$ be used instead?
26
votes
1answer
570 views

Why is it that every snowflake is unique?

It's pretty hard to believe in around 4.5 billion years of this planet's existence, no snowflake pattern was repeated, and that's not including potential earth-like planets. Is there a proof to the ...
34
votes
4answers
8k views

How are poisons discovered? Does someone have to die/be poisoned from it first?

How are poisons discovered? Does someone have to die/be poisoned from it first? Or are there other ways of discovering the harmfulness of a substance? Perhaps everything is tested on other animals ...
25
votes
2answers
6k views

Why does bleach feel slippery?

My high-school chemistry teacher taught us the mantra "bases are slippery-soapy-slimy!" This question and this answer in Quora say this is due to saponification - conversion of lipids from the top ...
11
votes
2answers
54k views

How does propylene glycol/glycerin form formaldehyde/acetaldehyde when vaporized?

So apparently, e-cigarettes produce formaldehyde/acetaldehyde because they vaporize propylene glycol/glycerin. What is the chemical reaction through which propylene glycol/glycerin forms formaldehyde/...
10
votes
2answers
10k views

Why does water volume decrease when salt is added?

Why does water volume decrease when salt is added? Our teacher asks us in the class but I don't find any strong reason.
9
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1answer
6k views

Why does permanent marker writing come off a white board when coated with white board marker?

Why is it that dry erase markers allow permanent markings to come off? Here's a demonstration.
12
votes
2answers
843 views

Le Chatelier's principle: Are there any exceptions?

The way Le Chatelier's principle is presented in most introductory chemistry books (high-school) is as though it's an indisputable law of the physical world (in the sense that we're never shown an ...
2
votes
4answers
5k views

Sensitive test for lead in water?

Some of my friends are in Flint and I'm horrified by their situation. I would like to learn how to test for lead independently. After all if you can't trust the state sending them water to test is ...
-2
votes
4answers
5k views

What happens to the molecules of a liquid when it evaporates?

Let's say I spill liquid on some fabric or on a impermeable material like a countertop. Eventually, the liquid stops being a liquid and we say it has "dried", but what happened to the molecules? Did ...
24
votes
2answers
2k views

How to properly store acids at home?

I bought different kinds of acid for experiments and home usage that I stored in secured containers into an IKEA cabinet. I just realized that despite the fact that all the containers are properly ...
17
votes
1answer
3k views

What gives fresh milk a yellow tinge?

Every now and then, when I pop over to my grandparents' house, they make sure to give me a glass (or two) full of fresh milk (or "whole milk" if you will) and then proceed to pamper me for the rest of ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

Mercury metal: Not toxic?

Now I (and most of us here, I guess) have grown up around "Mercury's toxic! Avoid handling it! Do NOT screw around with this thing, if you value your life" and other equally heartening pieces of ...
12
votes
5answers
44k views

Which side of an aluminum foil should I put in contact with food?

Aluminum foil has two sides: a matte one, and a shiny one. My question is: which one should I put in contact with food? Criteria are lowest risk of toxicity and best qualities for food preservation (...
12
votes
4answers
8k views

The mole is used extensively in chemistry, why not elsewhere?

In chemistry, the unit "mole" is used in many places, and is an important tool when working with quantities. I have not seen it used elsewhere--for example, we never count people or TVs with the unit....
7
votes
1answer
7k views

Do chemicals have an expiry date?

A bonus question would be, if so, why? Is it because it decomposes and hence the expiry date is calculated out?
5
votes
1answer
7k views

What is the formula of bleaching powder?

What is the structure and preparation for bleaching powder? Why there is a controversy in the formula of bleaching powder? I have encountered many forms of the formula of bleaching powder, like $\...
3
votes
1answer
194 views

What is the composition of the oil-like fluid that seeps out of dry-cells over time?

An experience a lot of us might've had; a dry cell (not completely depleted) when left in an electrical device for long periods of time, has this viscous fluid coming out that usually corrodes the ...
14
votes
6answers
49k views

Handling and storing sodium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen peroxide and isopropyl alcohol

I'm an electrical engineering and I hope you can give me some advice as I'm not much into chemistry. I'm trying to start making my PCB (Printed Circuit Board) at home but I'd like to have some advice ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Explanation of Lemon Juice-Invisible Ink

A cute homegrown spy-trick we all know: lemon juice invisible ink. But there is no scholary article available in the internet about this phenomenon. A rough explanation I found in Scientific American:...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

How does the Mentos-Coke explosion work?

We all might have seen this in some videos or in real life. But how exactly does this work? What is the chemical reaction involved? And why is the reaction of Mentos with Diet Coke more vigorous? ...
6
votes
3answers
903 views

Is it known for sure that bases feel slippery because of the production of soap/surfactant?

Discussion around the question Why does bleach feel slippery? has started me thinking about the saponification explanation for the slippery feeling of basic solutions. According to Wikipedia: ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Can dimethylmercury originate from cleaning up a broken thermometer with disposable wet wipes?

I broke a CFL in my home (so elemental mercury is present in a small amount) and wiped up some of the mess with a clorox wipe. The wipe in question contains dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride and ...
4
votes
1answer
545 views

Is the colour of leaves due to d-d transitions in chlorophyll?

While reading a chapter on transition metals, I came to know that d-Block elements have colour compounds due to d-d transitions. A question came to my mind as to whether there is any d-d kind of ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Minimum amount of water in pressure cooker

When cooking I would like to know the minimum amount of water I can add to my 6.2 L pressure cooker, worst case, so without any food. At second ring cooking the pressure is 0.8 bar. I assume I need ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Cleaning stains with hydrogen peroxide and bleach

A while back, I discovered that if you have a stain on a white shirt, you can remove it by putting hydrogen peroxide on the stain, then adding some bleach to it. I have used this for getting out wine,...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

What are physical properties and chemical properties?

As the question title says, I would like to know what the physical and chemical properties are. If possible, please include examples. Since it seems to be related, I would also like to know what ...
3
votes
2answers
959 views

How is Persian blue rock salt made?

How is Persian blue rock salt made and what does it contain that makes it look blue?
-1
votes
1answer
4k views

What could happen when mixing bleach with other cleaning residue?

I have a wall covered in mold. I have used various cleaning wipes attempting to clean it, including a vinegar mixture. I now want to spray the wall with a bleach cleaner. I am concerned for fumes from ...