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26 votes
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Strange Sticky Substance on Digital Camera

After the lengthy back and forth perhaps an official answer is due: the blue salt deposit on the camera battery holder door is most likely copper(II) hydroxide by reaction of leaked alkaline battery ...
Buck Thorn's user avatar
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16 votes
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How can I safely handle a concentrated (fuming) nitric acid spill?

Of course, you’ll want to prevent a spillage as well as possible (making sure the bottle doesn’t fall over etc.) but sometimes you just run into bad luck. Let’s hope that your work bench is at least ...
Jan's user avatar
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15 votes
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Does the main washing effect of soap come from foam?

Foam is a side effect of using a tensio-active agents (though some tensio-active agents are engineered to produce as little foam as possible, e.g. in washing machines). In fact, you could consider ...
SteffX's user avatar
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15 votes
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Why are acetic acid and sodium bicarbonate mixed to unblock a drain?

Quoting text from this source under the section "Why could baking soda and vinegar clean clogged drains?" : Bicarb soda and vinegar react because of the acid-base reaction. Bicarb soda is ...
Yusuf Hasan's user avatar
  • 3,196
14 votes

Strange Sticky Substance on Digital Camera

I agree with @BuckThorn on the blue corrosion but I'd like to address the sticky substance. If it is in fact a degradation product of the plastic or some other substance being exuded by the plastic, I'...
MTA's user avatar
  • 366
13 votes
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Cleaning with vinegar and sodium bicarbonate

Your intuition is on point. Pretty much all the "lifehacks" praising cleaning abilities of vinegar and sodium bicarbonate are ineffective. The reaction appears vigorous due to the formation ...
andselisk's user avatar
  • 38.1k
9 votes
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For what reasons, is isopropyl alcohol widely used as a cleaning solvent?

From this Wikipedia article Isopropyl alcohol dissolves a wide range of non-polar compounds. It also evaporates quickly, leaves nearly zero oil traces, compared to ethanol, and is relatively non-...
paracetamol's user avatar
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8 votes

Ammonia for cleaning - what is the interaction between ammonia and oils?

Common food fats and oils usually contain some free fatty acid1. The alkalinity of household ammonia serves to form a soap which will emulsify the main body of the fat/oil, if enough elbow grease (i.e....
James Gaidis's user avatar
8 votes

How to Remove Copper Sulphate from a Leather Belt

Copper sulfate is water soluble, so water is your best bet. However, if it's bonded to or reacted with anything in the leather, you're probably out of luck. Detergents and alternative solvents are not ...
anon's user avatar
  • 848
7 votes
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Why is caustic soda (NaOH) used to clean beer bottles?

Caustics such as $\ce{NaOH}$ and $\ce{KOH}$ are effective in converting insoluble fatty acids in organic fats and oils into soluble soaps in a proccess called saponification. The caustics also react ...
DrMoishe Pippik's user avatar
7 votes

Why are acetic acid and sodium bicarbonate mixed to unblock a drain?

$$\ce{NaHCO3(s) + CH3COOH(aq) -> CO2(g) + H2O(l) + CH3COONa (aq)}$$ From what I can see in the reaction, an amount of water and carbon dioxide is produced which has the potential to move around ...
Moobius Strip's user avatar
7 votes

Are acids effective in removing soap scum?

Soap is a combination of a metal (e.g. sodium) and a fatty acid (e.g., palmitic acid). If you use acid to break the metal off (e.g., $\ce{CH3(CH2)14COONa + HCl -> CH3(CH2)14COOH + Na Cl}$) you're ...
DrMoishe Pippik's user avatar
7 votes

I left scented candles in a polypropylene container. How do I remove the smell?

The answer depends on (1) how patient you are (how much time you have), (2) how low a concentration of the offending substances you need to obtain, (3) whether you have someplace you can leave the box ...
Buck Thorn's user avatar
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6 votes

Isopropyl alcohol to clean germs on countertops

A 70% “rubbing” alcohol solution will kill those pesky bacteria usually in ten seconds or less. It will also kill a host of viruses, but not all of them. For your common household disinfecting, a 70% ...
Barry Chapman's user avatar
6 votes

Disrupting the chemistry of oobleck so that it behaves like a newtonian fluid

Disposal isn't a problem - add more water as you dump it down the drain. There are two extremes to ooblek: Almost all cornstarch and almost no water: this is a dry solid or slightly wet starch. No ...
Geoff Hutchison's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Bleach turned towel bright pink before fading to white

Although Dr. Laundry says it only happens to the incoming brighteners within a detergent and not to those fixed to the fabric, I think that your new towels should have enough brighteners - deposited ...
Alchimista's user avatar
  • 3,646
6 votes
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Will using vinegar harm car paint?

That is a valid question, because acid rain has been known to damage paints, particularly high-gloss, i.e. clear coat. Best would be to test the effect of vinegar on a hidden area, and double-check ...
DrMoishe Pippik's user avatar
6 votes

Why does saliva clean so well?

Saliva has alpha-amylase (ptyalin), which hydrolyzes carbohydrates (so starch starts to taste sweet in just a few seconds), kallikrein, an enzyme that breaks down protein, and lingual lipase, which ...
DrMoishe Pippik's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Cleaning with Hydrogen Peroxide is not a chemical process?

Well, it is a play of words. Chemical process or a physical process do not mean a lot. Dilute hydrogen peroxide decomposes catalytically by many things, including dust/ grime, plant matter, minerals, ...
AChem's user avatar
  • 41.1k
5 votes

Acetic(vinegar) and citric acid as the rust remover

Long, long time ago I was employed to formulate rust removers for iron. We needed to be concerned with toxicity, corrosivity, cost, waste disposal, effectiveness, speed, damage to the (uncorroded) ...
Li Zhi's user avatar
  • 51
5 votes
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What is the grey film/black sludge from mercury? How to remove it?

First, I would advise against using mercury in a home lab due to the ease which scattered droplets fall into cracks and evaporate. That said, if distillation is out, then try bulb-pipetting from the ...
DrMoishe Pippik's user avatar
5 votes
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When we add soap in low concentrations to water it reduces the surface tension. Why? What is the purpose of this?

The lowering of surface tension is a side effect, though it does relate to the reason why we use soaps when cleaning things. Many of the things we want to clean are not naturally soluble in water (e....
matt_black's user avatar
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5 votes
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Dangers of expired bleach?

You have outlined the principal decomposition path of hypochlorite in the question. Chlorate in itself is rather stable under ambient conditions and would probably not decompose. The greatest danger ...
Jan's user avatar
  • 68.2k
5 votes
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How to safely clean tantalum jewelry

Ultra Met uses tantalum for corrosion resistant coatings and has a list of corrosive substances that won't dissolve tantalum, comprising of hydrochloric, hydrobromic, and hydroiodic acids, nitric acid,...
A.K.'s user avatar
  • 12.6k
5 votes

Will using vinegar harm car paint?

Vinegar Test: No Visible Change After Two Hours As advised above, I decided to test vinegar on an inconspicuous spot. First I created a pattern of exposed paint using masking tape. The shape was ...
Dale's user avatar
  • 293
5 votes

Cleaning with vinegar and sodium bicarbonate

Better is using washing soda alone first ( instead of baking soda ), pouredby boiling water and kept there overnight. Next day vinegar may be used to make some bubbles desintegrating the clogging. ...
Poutnik's user avatar
  • 42.3k
4 votes

Sulfuric acid fumes from cleaning shower drain

He wasn’t wrong to be using Sulfuric acid, he just didn’t know what he was doing. Sulfuric acid is sold for cleaning pipes, but you won’t find it easily because it is one of the most dangerous ways to ...
Noah Spurrier's user avatar
4 votes
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Yellow stains after cleaning silver

Did find a source and the nature of reaction apparently involves some standard chemistry, surface chemistry, some radical activity and electrochemistry resulting, upon warming, in the demonstration of ...
AJKOER's user avatar
  • 5,556
4 votes
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Vinegar and baking soda: Cleaning agent or neutralized sludge?

Well, cleaning is a very broad subject. This is a question which could make a great Science Fair Project. Because vinegar is just a dilute solution of acetic acid (ignoring trace compounds present), ...
Li Zhi's user avatar
  • 114

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