What are some household chemicals that can be used to learn more about chemistry?

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t-nez | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Borax, used as a water softening agent in laundry detergent, can be used to make crystals on pipe cleaners or strings suspended in a saturated solution. It also acts to cross-link polymers, and when a small amount is added to a mixture of one part white glue to one part water it forms silly putty. It will cross-link molecules of polyvinyl alcohol in solution in a similar fashion to form slime.

Many food products are acid-base indicators. Red cabbage and rose hips (found in herbal tea) will turn from red to blue in the presence of a base, such as a dilute solution of baking soda or ammonia in water. The spice turmeric, when dissolved in alcohol to make a yellow solution will turn bright red in the presence of a base then turn back to yellow when an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice is added. Baking soda reacts with acid such as vinegar to produce CO2 gas which causes baked goods to rise. 

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freemihai | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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Normal household products, milk, vinegar, baking soda, laundry detergent, water, can be used to create endothermic, exothermic, precipitate or gas producing reactions.

Sodium acetate can be prepared from (acetic acid) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Vinegar and baking soda react to form carbon dioxide and sodium acetate.

The chemical reaction between vinegar and baking soda is:

CH3-COOH (acetic acid) + NaC3 H2O2 (sodium bicarbonate) --> H2O (water) + CO2(carbon dioxide gas) + NaC2H3O2 (sodium acetate)

Carbon dioxide being released causes the reaction to erupt.

Combining vinegar and baking soda is an example of a reaction that releases a gas.

Combining vinegar and milk is an example of a reaction that forms a solid precipitate, known as curdling milk.

When laundry detergent and water are mixed together the reaction generates heat. The reaction between water and laundry detergent is exothermic.

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