The Stack Overflow podcast is back! Listen to an interview with our new CEO.

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.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
21
votes
2answers
6k views

Chemical compounds responsible for the colors in flowers?

I know that anthocyanins are a class of compounds responsible for the purple colors found in flower petals. Anthocyanins (also anthocyans; from Greek: ἀνθός (anthos) = flower + κυανός (kyanos) = ...
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?
20
votes
2answers
27k views

Why does superglue ignite cotton?

Cotton is mostly cellulose, a plant saccharide. Superglue refers to a class of cyanoacrylates. What is it about the two that causes ignition? I'd imagine that the cellulose in cotton is in its ...
20
votes
2answers
14k 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 ...
20
votes
1answer
29k 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 ...
19
votes
2answers
177k views

Will alcohol or soap damage plastic or rubber?

I have read conflicting advice on various sites about the appropriate methods for cleaning plastic and rubber items and would like to ask people who actually know what's going on what they would ...
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 ...
19
votes
1answer
8k views

Why is gum so sticky and what chemicals make for easy removal of gum?

To give this question context, I work in a restaurant and sometimes I'm in charge of getting all of the gum off of the tables at work. Don't mind the work, but I'd be interested in hearing what makes ...
19
votes
4answers
61k 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 ...
18
votes
6answers
5k views

Un-denaturing industrial alcohol

I have a question regarding the denaturation of industrial ethanol with methanol to discourage its consumption. The boiling point of methanol is 64.7 °C, while the boiling point of ethanol is 78.37 °...
18
votes
2answers
15k views

Why doesn't HCl form when you dissolve NaCl in water?

People say it dissolves, but shouldn't the acid form? $$ \ce{NaCl + H2O ->[?] HCl + ???} $$
18
votes
6answers
29k views

Why can't rust form without water?

Shouldn't iron oxide be able to form without water? It is just iron and oxygen. I don't really understand what the dot followed by the $\ce{H2O}$ means either. I was reading on wikipedia, but I have a ...
18
votes
2answers
58k views

What causes the really bad smell of rotten potatoes?

Rotten potatoes have a distinctive unpleasant odour, and I can't find any definitive answer as to what the chemical involved is. I was thinking it might be Butyric acid, from the fermentation of the ...
18
votes
1answer
986 views

How do self-relighting (trick) birthday candles work?

You may have seen those birthday candles, where, upon blowing them out they smoulder for a bit and then (magically) relight. How do they work? Why can't regular candles do this (is it possible for a ...
18
votes
3answers
58k views

What is hydrogen-rich water?

My question is: Is hydrogen-rich water true? I am aware of the alkaline water. I have read several articles in the Internet regarding this kind of water but I cannot seem to be convinced. Wikipedia ...
18
votes
1answer
2k views

Counterintuitive Reaction of Aluminium On Steel Balls

There is a certain video which I just watched about 2 large cast iron balls. If the balls are struck together, no reaction happens, but if one is covered in aluminium foil and then struck, a large ...
18
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does water spills on our shirt change its colour?

While drinking water, some of it spilled on my shirt and as usual, as has happened to many of us, the colour darkened. So why does this happen? Is it due to some chemical effect or physical one?
18
votes
2answers
446 views

Can molecules diffuse upstream when emptying a cup of tea?

I was drinking some tea, and I randomly decided to pour some into the toilet in an unbroken stream; can particles travel "upstream" quickly enough to reach the mug of tea? How fast can diffusion occur ...
18
votes
1answer
3k views

Why is europium used in Euro bank notes?

Europium is apparently used as an anti-counterfeiting measure in Euro bank notes because of its fluorescence under UV light. Is there any reason why it is specifically $\ce{Eu}$ and not any of the ...
18
votes
5answers
11k views

Iron chemistry: acetates for ebonizing wood

I have recently been “brewing” what is commonly called “iron acetate” for ebonizing wood, and I'd like to understand the chemistry of the iron/acetic acid reaction, which should be fairly simple, but ...
18
votes
1answer
2k views

How many times can we recycle one sheet of paper?

Its really interesting to see the process of recycling of paper (as shown in picture below) but at the same time I was thinking like for how many times can one sheet of paper can be recycled ?
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 ...
17
votes
1answer
2k views

Why do raisins bob up and down in carbonated water?

Yesterday I preformed a fun little experiment where I poured a glass of seltzer water into a glass, then dropped a few raisins into it. I observed that the raisins would float at the top of the glass ...
17
votes
5answers
44k views

Painting metal, does it matter if all rust is removed before?

In the context of automobile repair work, assume a metal surface has rust over it. Does it matter if all of the rust is removed before the metal surface is painted? If it does matter, then why? It ...
17
votes
2answers
3k views

Fireplace window: Can one influence how fast soot is building up?

I'm sorry for such a stupid question, but after googling for half an hour I know two things There are at least a zillion pages, blog-posts and articles about how to keep your fireplace window clean ...
17
votes
2answers
5k views

Not your ordinary hard water deposit

We have a well that delivers hard water and we do not have a water softener. (There was a “green sand filter” that utilizes permanganate to oxidize other metals on the system, but it has been ...
16
votes
3answers
35k views

Why there is no change in water level when salt is added?

Let us say we have one glass of water and after that when we add one or two spoon of salt then we notice that salt dissolves in it but when we measure the water level we found that there is no ...
16
votes
4answers
26k views

Beer freezing after being opened

I am watching the Stoke vs Swansea game, & to be honest, it's pretty boring. So much so, that I've started to wonder why it is that my beer has turned into a slushy after being taken out of the ...
16
votes
3answers
43k views

What is the difference between hand wash and body wash soap?

I do not like body wash always with strong favor. I like hand wash soap to wash my body. Are they difference at all? Thanks for the comments, so that I add the following information I am really sorry ...
16
votes
1answer
23k views

Why do bubbles form when it rains?

I noticed sometime ago that bubbles formed in puddles/streets whenever it rained. I am wondering if someone could tell me what could cause such bubbles. I examined the bubbles again today more closely ...
16
votes
2answers
810 views

Why do chalcogens (Group VI) stink so badly?

For more fun with Dr. Derek Lowe, see this for a primer: Things I Won't Work With - Carbon Diselenide. The short of it is that we carbon-based life forms generally like oxygen. However, move just one ...
16
votes
1answer
3k views

What material are heat bags made of?

I just bought a heat bag from store and it has special property. It is made up of transparent plastic bag and transparent unknown liquid inside when sold. There is a tiny circular metal piece in ...
16
votes
3answers
8k views

Why does hand sanitizer turn into a liquid after coming out of the bottle?

Hand sanitizer is a gel in its bottle, but when I pour it on my palm, it turns into a free flowing liquid. Why does that happen? It doesn't turn to a liquid when I pour it on my floor or my table. ...
16
votes
3answers
29k views

Why are water droplets shaped like that?

With nothing to do, I stared at the droplets that get condensed on the glass panel of my window. Upon examination, these droplets appear to be in some sorta pattern. There are big droplets as well as ...
16
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does gum get harder to chew after a while?

My Sister asked me this: "Why is it that when we chew gum, it is soft and mushy to begin with , but slowly gets firmer and firmer like after 20 mins of chewing?" I think it is because when we ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does adding salt to boiling water cause it to flare up suddenly?

I was expecting that the water would become less "boily" since the ions in $\ce{NaCl}$ would require energy to disassociate. Instead it turned whitish and the water level suddenly rose and then ...
15
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 ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Using a gas stove instead of Bunsen burner for a flame test?

In all chemistry labs we use the Bunsen burner. What's the difference between it and a good old gas stove used in home? Can the stove also be used to get positive flame tests for some cations (like $\...
15
votes
4answers
24k views

Which chemical is responsible for making marker ink permanent?

As asked in the question and also, a bonus question: which property of a chemical would make it 'permanent' in terms of markers?
15
votes
3answers
7k views

Is there a point at which Ethanol (E10) fuel becomes harmful to gas tanks or engines if not used?

This is not the typical chemistry question on this website, but I think it's an important practical question. When I got a gas string trimmer, the woman who worked at the gardening shop told me that ...
15
votes
5answers
1k views

Is it still possible for an amateur, a hobbyist, or a science buff to make relevant discoveries in chemistry today? [closed]

Consider astronomy. Hobbyists and amateurs are today still able to make small to moderate scientific contributions to their field. Is the same true in chemistry? I think there might be at least two ...
15
votes
1answer
4k views

What are these crystals on my champagne cork?

I opened up a bottle of champagne that was left in a wine cooler for approx. 8 years. To my astonishment there were small crystals at the underside of the cork. The crystals are colorless, odorless ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Does the chemical in an alkaline battery make battery leaks unavoidable?

Battery leaks was an issue in the 80s and 90s, and since quality and innovation is constantly improving, I thought battery leak might be slowly going away. But I found that even nowadays, name brand ...
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 (...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

How does WD-40 remove rust?

One of the often-touted uses of WD-40 is that it "dissolves rust". The official website states that WD-40 "breaks down the bonds between metal and rust". I can't understand how this would work, since ...
15
votes
3answers
21k views

Are modern newspaper inks a health risk?

It's very common in India to see newspapers being used to absorb oils from oily snacks, or simply for temporary food packaging. Some articles say that covering food items in newspaper is a health risk....
15
votes
1answer
10k views

Using table salt as a way to limit humidity in an unoccupied house

We own a static caravan in the UK (Snowdonia region, so rainy and wet all year round, moderately cold winters) and we leave it unoccupied during Winter (Oct-Feb). We were advised of an apparently ...
15
votes
2answers
507 views

What causes the “white water” smell?

I can detect a distinct smell when I am near water going over a weir. I could tell that I was near "white water" if I was blindfold. Can anyone tell me what causes this odour?
15
votes
2answers
2k views

CO2 removal from mushroom growing tent

I'm trying to grow oyster mushrooms that like high temperatures. They look great in an indoor terrarium, and can eventually yield several tasty meals :) However oyster mushrooms are hard to grow ...