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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220
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1answer
65k 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, ...
96
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7answers
271k 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, ...
92
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7answers
59k 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 ...
86
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5answers
100k views

Does water really 'go bad' after a couple of days?

Among my friends it is a sort of 'common wisdom' that you should throw away water after a couple of days if it was taken from the tap and stored in a bottle outside the fridge, because it has 'gone ...
84
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3answers
4k views

If nothing sticks to Teflon, how does Teflon stick to frying pans?

The most notable characteristic of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, DuPont's Teflon) is that nothing sticks to it. This complete inertness is attributed to the fluorine atoms completely shielding the ...
78
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1answer
3k views

What causes the old book smell?

I have a collection of old books (all 80+ years old), recently, I received a British Chemistry text from 1903 (intro page below) - this being the oldest book of my collection (112 years old at the ...
75
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5answers
19k 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 ...
75
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6answers
24k 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 ...
63
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3answers
5k views

Why does pasta really boil over?

I was making pasta, and I noticed the pasta boiling over. I thought about it some more, and I realized I had no idea why this was happening. When the lid is on, the foam rises. When the lid is off, ...
62
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1answer
8k views

Why does shaking a match put the fire out?

Move a match slowly and nothing happens but if you shake it violently the fire will extinguish. Oxygen makes fire grow so why does waving a flame through the oxygen rich air put the fire out? Does ...
54
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4answers
21k views

Why do shampoo ingredient labels feature the term "Aqua"?

I keep seeing the term "Aqua" in the ingredient labels on several shampoo varieties, but I really don't see why it should be there in the first place. I mean, if the manufacturers just wanted to say ...
51
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2answers
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Why don't we explode after drinking water?

It is known that acid should be added to water and not the opposite because it results in an exothermic reaction. Our stomach contains HCl, so why don't we explode when we drink water?
48
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1answer
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Why doesn't frozen sugar solution taste sweet?

I'll try to make this as brief as possible: Dissolved two teaspoons of table sugar (sucrose) in about 250ml water. Sipped it, and as expected it tasted sweet. I let the rest of it sit in the freezer ...
47
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2answers
42k views

Does oil break down condoms?

It seems that every website on sexual health advises against using oil-based lubricants with condoms. It is claimed that "oil breaks down latex". One source claimed that a latex condom completely ...
46
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8answers
24k 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? ...
41
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2answers
9k 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?
40
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2answers
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What causes the "rotting fish smell"?

Rotting fish seem to give off the same (very pungent) kind of smell, regardless of the kind (salmon, seabreen, tuna, etc). What exactly is it that's responsible for this unique smell? (Though I've ...
38
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1answer
32k views

Why super glue does not stick inside their own bottle?

We usually use super glue to stick any two objects but I was wondering like why don't they stick inside their own bottle ?
35
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3answers
11k views

Why isn't ethane used for cooking?

We commonly use methane and propane for cooking (and home heating), but not ethane. I would expect ethane to be suitable for this, being in between the two, but I've never heard of anyone using it for ...
35
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5answers
45k views

A glass of water with ice-cubes in it. Where's the water the coldest; at the top or bottom?

Suppose that I fill a glass with ice water. As the ice melts, it cools the water around it. Given that cold water is denser than hot water, I would presume that the cold water would sink to the ...
35
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3answers
103k views

Chemistry behind Gale's coffee maker in Breaking Bad

Is there a scientific basis for the coffee making equipment which Gale Boetticher describes in Breaking Bad? He talks about maintaining the right conditions for bringing out the coffee flavor without ...
33
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4answers
12k views

Effect of drinking ultra-pure water

What would be the effect if someone were to drink ultra-pure water with an electrical resistivity of $18 \, \mathrm{M} \Omega \! \cdot \! \text{cm}$? Would they immediately die? Would they just ...
33
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4answers
14k 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 ...
33
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3answers
7k views

Soaps come in different colors, but why is soap lather always white?

Soap comes in different colors, but why is soap lather always white?
32
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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 ...
32
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9answers
9k views

Realistic chemical spill accident in high school chemistry class

In a story I'm writing, a teenager spills chemicals on herself in a high school chemistry class, causing her to be put under the safety shower. The spill destroys her clothes and causes minor burns. I ...
31
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3answers
33k views

Why does burnt hair smell bad?

When I use hot stuff like hair straightener on my hair, my hair begins to smell bad, which is very different from smell produced from burning other things. So what's the gas produced that is ...
30
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2answers
4k views

Is honey really a supersaturated solution? Does heating to un-crystalize redissolve it or melt it?

In the SciShow video Honey: Bacteria's Worst Enemy after about 00:30 the narrator says: Honey is only about 17% water. Most, but not all of what remains is sugar. ...
29
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2answers
4k 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 ...
29
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3answers
9k views

Why does chocolate melt so easily?

(Yes, I know the question sounds super-trivial... but bear with me here) Most chocolates (especially milk-chocolate) tend to melt into this sticky (albeit delicious) mess at temperatures slightly ...
29
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5answers
22k views

Microwaving a glass of water, what happens?

Most of us here would already know the simplified idea behind microwaving food: Microwave radiation hits the water molecules present in food, which excites them and causes 'em to vibrate rapidly in ...
29
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4answers
9k views

Why is the Vitamin B complex, a "complex"?

I often come across the term "Vitamin B Complex" in my biology classes and innumerable times on the back of multivitamin packets, but what does the term "complex" here, even mean? I'm still in high-...
29
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5answers
4k views

How 'heavy' should an element be, to be a "Heavy Metal"?

I've come across the term "Heavy metals" innumerable times in articles, mostly pertaining to environmental issues. Is there a weight range (of sorts) against which an element (metal) is classified as ...
28
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3answers
6k views

What properties of carbon dioxide make it a greenhouse gas?

Why is it that heat from the Earth reflects back off carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases but not gases like nitrogen or oxygen?
28
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3answers
23k views

What happens to gunpowder when it gets wet?

What happens to the gunpowder and other explosives when they get wet? I know that they stop "working" (won't explode anymore) but for what reason? Is it anyhow similar to the fact, that wet wood is ...
28
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1answer
3k views

Why is heroin a more potent drug than morphine, despite having a similar structure?

The structures of heroin and morphine are quite similar, with heroin being formed by acetylation of morphine: Why is heroin so much more potent than morphine, when their structures are so similar? ...
27
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2answers
3k views

The importance of the cold chain in the food and the pharmaceutical industry

There are these everyday things that one should know as a scientist and especially as a chemist, but which never come to light in an academic curriculum — at least not in mine. One such thing is the ...
27
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1answer
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Why is ethyne and not ethene used for welding?

Ethyne (Acetylene) is used with $\ce{O2}$ for welding. My question is that why is ethene not used? What properties of ethyne make it suitable for welding?
27
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1answer
2k views

Why did the Rio 2016 pool water turn green?

One of the swimming pools at Rio 2016 Olympics has turned green: While proliferation of algae is a likely culprit, there have been some alternative explanations offered by local organizers. CNN has ...
26
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2answers
9k 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 ...
26
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1answer
7k views

Why does my blood taste like rust?

I thought it is just me, but when I searched it on Google, it revealed that there are many people who experience this: Why is it that whenever I taste my own blood, I always think it tastes like rust? ...
26
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3answers
24k views

Why does ice cream make soda fizz?

I've noticed that adding a chunk of ice cream to soda makes the soda fizz slightly near the soda-ice cream interface. I thought it was a physical effect due to the temperature, but adding ice has no ...
26
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1answer
755 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 ...
25
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5answers
1k views

Why are smoke odors persistent in fabrics?

Obviously smoke is very complex, but apparently phenol compounds are the main components of wood smoke that produce the characteristic odor. (One of more significant of these compounds seems to be ...
24
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4answers
9k views

Can we fill potato chips bags with a gas other than nitrogen?

I understand that we fill potato chips bag with nitrogen to prevent oxidation. But why do we use nitrogen, instead of neon or hydrogen or something else? My first guess is that nitrogen is lighter ...
24
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2answers
28k views

Is sodium chloride really odourless? If yes, what do I smell?

I just had to read some general descriptions of sodium chloride and it was always classified as odourless (e.g., by Wikipedia). However, large amounts of table salts (around 1 kg) have a clearly ...
24
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1answer
1k views

What causes that foul taste with combination of toothpaste and orange juice?

Ugh, I drank orange juice too soon after brushing my teeth and my mouth feels awful! What causes that foul taste with this combination of toothpaste and orange juice? Is it a reaction between the oil ...
23
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2answers
21k views

What is the smell of 'burning' metal?

When a pass a construction site where someone is welding two pieces of metal together there is a very distinct smell that I associate with 'burning' metal, although I am not quite sure it is burning ...
23
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1answer
1k views

What is K2O-nSiO2-xH2O?

In need of $\ce{K2SiO3}$ for my cucumber plants, I purchased a bag of potassium silicate. The molecular formula is $\ce{K2O-nSiO2-xH2O}$. Normally, my bags of fertilizer are easy to figure out. For ...
23
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1answer
41k views

How does adding lemon juice to sugar make better caramel?

It's a common cooking advice: if you want a somewhat softer caramel, add some lemon juice to the sugar: To help prevent the caramel from crystallizing, you can add an acid to the sugar before you ...

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