26 votes
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What makes ABS plastic turn yellow?

What you're specifically describing is typically known as UV degradation. The color change is due to the oxidation of the polymers that make up the plastic. These chemical reactions are demonstrated ...
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25 votes
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Ripping apart plastic: is this a chemical or physical change?

When you rip, tear or mechanically deform a polymer (for example a piece of plastic) you are putting energy into the material. The energy from this deformation causes the polymer chains in the ...
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18 votes
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Why do many transparent plastics turn opaque when deformed?

The process of forming an opaque area when you apply stress to a polymer film is known as crazing. Polymers are long chains and, when coated, often form tangled, amorphous, randomly aligned polymer ...
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  • 81.6k
17 votes

Ripping apart plastic: is this a chemical or physical change?

Agreed: a physical action can cause a chemical reaction. For example, any attempt to manipulate $\ce{NI3}$ physically causes it to decompose (detonate). For that matter, dividing metals into tiny ...
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17 votes
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What causes plastic to become brittle and can it be softened again?

Unfortunately, there is not too much to do. The original ABS substance is a copolymer made of acrylonitrile, butadiene and styrene. It is rather hard and brittle. To make it softer, some proportion of ...
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16 votes
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How do cloves break down plastic?

Most of the odor of cloves comes from volatile molecules, especially eugenol, found in the cloves. Eugenol is a water-immiscible, oily liquid at ambient temperatures. Plastic with resin ...
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14 votes
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Does latex protect against acids?

There are all sorts of resources for picking the best gloves for handling any given type of chemical. This resource describes latex as being good for protecting against bases, alcohols, dilute water ...
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13 votes

Why is polyethylene not called polymethylene?

Polyethylene is prepared by polymerizing ethylene. Ethylene has a double bond, thanks to which the polymerization goes on. You could not do that with a methylene group. So the name comes after the ...
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10 votes

Why do many transparent plastics turn opaque when deformed?

@Philipp already mentioned microscopic cracks. This is called crazing. When a plastic is stretched, the extra space is filled randomly/irregularly. The gap between two polymer chains will grow, but ...
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  • 849
9 votes

Why does alcohol crack acrylic (plexiglass)?

If a solvent causes an amorphous polymer to craze, this is because the polymer is principally soluble in it. It diffuses into the surface, but without instantly dissolving it, as the polymer chains ...
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  • 11.4k
9 votes

Does latex protect against acids?

It depends on the acid. I would recommend Neoprene gloves instead of latex gloves. I did this excerpt from this guide that I think is taken from the website that ringo mentioned: VG= Very Good G= ...
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  • 8,819
9 votes

How do I heat my borosilicate reflux column?

That should pose no issue regarding the glass Without images to see how unevenly you will apply the heat, I have to modify my instinctual reaction "That cannot possibly be an issue" to "Most likely ...
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9 votes

How do I heat my borosilicate reflux column?

The first answer is great and the borosilicate glass can indeed survive harsh conditions. Here I'd like to suggest a DIY-project to improve the efficiency of the heater and make the column be warmed ...
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8 votes

Can plastic leak into water from a HDPE "2" plastic container at room temperature?

HDPE has a molecular weight more than several hundreds of thousands, "leaking" is plainly impossible. This taste is the tase of stale water, nobody knows what that taste is actually. Maybe its ...
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  • 621
7 votes
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At what temperature do complex hydrocarbons become ashes?

What happens depends whether it is being heated in the presence or absence of oxygen. For example, in the manufacture of coke (mostly carbon), coal is heated without oxygen and from Coke Production ...
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6 votes

Can flexible plastics have reflective coating (vacuum metalized)?

There are many techniques for metal-coated polymers, as linked by permeakra Generally, vacuum deposition is an issue because the metal is hot. Cold deposition techniques (e.g., sputtering, ink coating)...
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6 votes
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Why does alcohol crack acrylic (plexiglass)?

According to chemical resistance of plexiglass acrylic alcohol is not as aggressive as you mention with plexiglass acrylic. But, we have to signal that acrylics is a big family of polymers (...
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  • 8,503
6 votes
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Why plastic sheets contract when heated?

When plastic sheets are produced, they are rapidly cooled to keep the polymer chains oriented in a way that makes the sheets nice and flat. This is a relatively high-strain orientation since it is ...
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  • 1,612
6 votes
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Suggestions for 200-600 nm range transmitting polymers/materials

No plastic of any practically useful thickness$^\dagger$ has $80\%$ transparency down to $200~\mathrm{nm}$. Period. Below is a UV transmission chart for various materials from a marketing brochure ...
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6 votes

Is bamboo based plastic less likely to leak chemicals?

Inspired by the other answer and the comment to my question, i have dug a little deeper. The tableware in the picture is sold by a company called Zuperzozial and made from bamboo and corn reinforced ...
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  • 249
6 votes
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Why aren't plastic bottles of coca cola full of microplastics?

You are talking about two different things and phenomena. One is leaching-which means chemicals in the plastic dissolve into the solution with the passage of time. The other thing is literally ...
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5 votes
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The walls of a plastic vial with Mercury inside are darkening. What is causing this?

Mercury doesn't react with PET under normal conditions, but mercury vapor will diffuse into plastics. The diffusion will change the optical density of the plastic in the area where diffusion occurred....
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5 votes

What is relationship between molecular weight distribution of PE and its strength?

I have found an old paper that might answer your question, which is: "The Effect of Molecular Weight Distribution on Polyethylene Film Properties" P. J. Perrono, P. B. Lederman, Polymer Egineering ...
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5 votes

Etching ITO on PET without damage

My lab has a lot of experience with ITO-coated PET, but unfortunately I don't think anyone's tried etching it. We typically etch ITO-coated glass with a mixture of hydrochloric acid/water/nitric acid (...
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5 votes
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What is the chemical reaction between coins (copper and nickel) and polyvinyl chloride?

Far, far too broad a question. I don't know what is going on in your situation. I can, perhaps, clear up some misconceptions you may have. PVC is NOT commonly used in sandwich bags. PVDC is a close ...
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  • 66
5 votes
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Does melting HDPE plastic produce toxic fumes? (melting, not burning)

This table indicates that polyethylene (HD/LD not specified) "melts at" 135°C, decomposes in the range 335-450°C, and produces vapors that will ignite between 341-357°C. I'm sure melting/softening ...
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  • 1,482
5 votes
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Oily residue on old toy rubbery tyres

The "rubber", or elastomer, likely has plasticizers to soften the material and make it more elastic and less brittle. These often migrate to the surface as parts age. Some of these ...
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4 votes

What is the plastic material of the CD cases?

These are called slimline jewel cases. From the Wikipedia article on Optical Disc Packaging: The bulk of slimline cases are made with translucent or transparent polystyrene, and are available in ...
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