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Foods we eat have to do with chemistry. They consist of organic compounds like carbohydrates--starch and sugar, protein, and lipids. Other nutrients like vitamins and minerals and water are all important chemical compounds. The process of respiration removes oxygen from the environment while adding carbon dioxide and water. Plants use these to carry out photosynthesis, while releasing oxygen and water again out of their leaves. Again, chemical reactions important to everyday life. The drugs people use are all extracted from plants or synthesized in laboratories--chemistry! Soaps, detergents, household cleaners are all chemicals made in a lab. The art of cooking is a chemical reaction. Once food is cooked, it is never the same! A piece of bread vs. toast, or a raw piece of steak, vs. a cooked steak. The makeup and anti-wrinkle cremes, the sunscreen, all chemical products devised in labs and sold on the market place. The ph of various things in the home have to do with chemistry from the acidic orange juice to the alkaline bleach. When you eat foods, hydrolysis or digestion occurs in the alimentary canal. This is a series of chemical reactions using enzymes, to change complex chemicals in food to endproducts that can be absorbed by the body's cells. The caffeine in the coffee and tea we drink affects our mood and keeps us awake. These are all chemical reactions in the body. Fermentation, another chemical reaction produces beer and wine, cheese and bread. Chemistry certainly affects us all from the time we are born until the day we die. Even then, decomposition occurs and chemical elements return to the Earth to be reused.
We're surrounded by chemistry in everyday life. Sometimes it is easy to spot, like when your science teacher does a big experiment in glass. Other times, it can be pretty hard to see the everyday chemistry at work, but nearly everything you touch or use has some element of chemistry in it. These things aren't always flashy, but they all exist because of chemistry.
Chemistry Around the House
Something as simple as toothpaste involves at least three chemicals, if not more. It is the mixture of fluoride, peroxide and baking soda and its chemical reaction that keeps your teeth clean.
Other items you use everyday that are created by chemistry include hair products, shampoo, gasoline and soap. Adding detergent to water involves chemistry. Without chemistry, we never would have figured out that you need soap to get the oil and grime out of clothes or skin.
Chemistry in Science
Chemistry not only helps us make products for use, but it also helps us understand the world around us. Chemistry helps us understand what the ozone layer is and how it protects us. Chemistry also gave us sunscreen, to protect us from the sun.
Thanks to chemistry, we know not to mix bleach with vinegar, because toxic chlorine gas is released. Without chemistry, we wouldn't have light bulbs or fireworks displays on the Fourth of July.
Chemistry for Dinner
Chemistry plays a big role in food preparation. Cooking food causes it to go through a chemical change, which is why cooked food often tastes different from raw food. Baking is a great example of chemistry, and it's just as precise. Too much or too little of any ingredient throws off the reactions needed for baking. The dough won't rise or the cake will be flat.
Our understanding of chemistry gives us the technology to add vitamins to food. Vitamin water and vitamin-fortified cereal are both examples of chemistry in food. When soda fizzes up, that-s chemistry too.
Using chemistry allows us to understand that ice floats because it is less dense than the water that created it. Chemistry also tells us which salt to use to melt ice in winter, and why leaves change color in autumn.
Chemistry isn't something that just lives in a lab, it's something that you encounter hundreds of times every day. Knowing how chemistry works will give you a greater appreciation of the complex processes behind some of the simplest-looking things.
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