DIY Deoderant

I don’t know about you, but, when you have French class with a lot of other people that have gym with you right before, we tend to be a little smelly, depending on the day’s activity. But, besides the obvious reasons why you wouldn’t want to smell, helping prevent sweat is also good. That’s why I wear deodorant, just like most people in our world. While it is your choice, here’s how to make your own deodorant, and the chemical background of it.

Many deodorants today are filled with chemicals that aren’t safe to use on broken skin. Sweating releases toxins, and we don’t want to be taking in some of the harmful chemicals in our deodorant like, “…aluminum, parabens, triclosan, talc, propylene glycol and phthalates, all of which are harmful when absorbed through the skin.”  Skin absorbs most everything, so, even if there is a warning not to put on broken skin, whatever is in it can still be absorbed. organic products, or ones made yourself, are most ;likely the best way to go, although many companies have started producing organic  or toxic-free deodorant, which is much healthier for you. 

One article states which common chemicals to avoid and why: “

  • Aluminum. Scientists are looking at the link between Alzheimer’s disease and aluminum. It could come in the following forms: aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly or other aluminum compounds.
  • Parabens. This group of chemicals is widely used as a preservative in the cosmetic industry. Parabens can mimic the hormone estrogen, which is known to play a role in the development of breasts
  • Triclosan. Thought to contain carcinogenic contaminants which can be stored in body fat.
  • Talc. A known carcinogen, irritant, cause of lung asphyxiation and possible link to uterine cancer. On a softer note, it clogs pores and causes acne.
  • Propylene glycol. A neurotoxin that may cause liver and kidney damage.
  • Phthalates. Shown to damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system in animal studies.

To check out some of the FAQ’s of deodorants, check out the link below! Now, onto how to make your own organic deodorant, so that you don’t have to look at teh long lists of ingredients on the back of deodorant in the supermarket.

Ingredients:

  1.  1/4 cup arrowroot powder (as a thickening agent)
  2. 1/4 cup baking soda
  3. 4 tbsp coconut oil (nice moisturizer!)
  4. 10+ drops grapefruit oil
  5. a jar or tin with a lid (to store it in)

Mix all of the ingredients together well. If you want, you can use a hand mixer. It should become a mixture with a balm-y consistency. To keep it solid, store in a relaticely cold place, like a fridge. And that’s it!

Now, she just said to apply the deodorant with your hands, but I think you could take a toothbrush, or a hollowed out chap-stick/deodorant tube and use that. Or you could get a sponge or something. get creative as you enjoy your toxin-free, and deliciously smelling, deodorant!

 

Links:

http://aprettypennyblog.com/category/diy/page/11/

http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/underarm-care/tips/deodorant.htm

So ta ta for now and I hope to see your chemical reaction soon!

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Trick Candles

One of the common things when you go to birthday parties is candles. Candles in cupcakes, brownies, cookies, ice-cream cake, just about any dessert you can think of. But no matter what medium the candle is in, on must beware of the dreaded TRICK CANDLE!

That’s right! The candles that never go out. But how do they work? And why on earth would someone create them?

Usually, when you blow out a candle, you see or smell smoke, and if you watch closely, there are still embers left over that glow red-hot. My friend Lindsey’s post summarizes it well. She writes, “To explain trick candles, let me explain regular candles first. After you blow out a regular candle, little smoke comes off the wick, and this is vaporized paraffin. Paraffin in vaporized paraffin is candle wax.” Now, if you haven’t already read my post on candles, click here to learn more! The embers left after the candle is blown out is hot enough to vaporize paraffin, but not to light it up again. However, in a trick candle, that’s exactly what you need to do. The key is to add something to the candle to make it continuously light up, even when blown out.

The most common “key” used is magnesium, as it is a metal, making a good conductor that can burn. One article states, “Inside the burning wick, the magnesium is shielded from oxygen and cooled by liquid paraffin, but once the flame goes out magnesium dust is ignited by the ember. If you watch the ember you will see tiny flecks of magnesium going off. One of them produces the heat necessary to re-light the paraffin vapor, and the candle flame comes back to life!” In other words, the magnesium is protected and cooled, but is vulnerable after the candle goes out, allowing it to be the “lighter” of the new flame, and so on and so forth.

Trick candles are cool, but some people may not like them. Then again, you can use it as a prank for your annoying older sister…

Links:

http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/science-questions/question420.htm

http://chemistry2013-14.tumblr.com/post/67269673550/relating-it-back-to-chemistry-trick-candles

So ta ta for now and I hope to see your chemical reaction soon!

Perfectly Pearly

Perfectly Pearly

Pearls are really pretty, and, although I am not one to wear them, my grandmother is. Besides their obvious beauty, they are considered a valuable gem, and are used often in jewelry. But very little people actually know how they are made.

I for one, can initially only tell you without looking anything up that they are often made when a clam gets a piece of sand in its shell and the pearl develops from there. But there is so much more information than just that. So let’s dive a little deeper into the making of a pearl!

My friend Dhara wrote in her blog post that pearls start forming when an oyster gets hurt. She writes, “When a pearl oyster gets hurt, it forms a “pearl sac” to contain the injury. In this injured area, the oyster creates two proteins called conchin and perlucin which form together a matrix called conchiolin,containing many porous spaces similar to a sponge.” In the porous areas, aragonite crystals are secreted and combine with the conchilin to form the pearly substance. After many layers are formed, it becomes a mature pearl!

One substanc ein particular is important. It is called nacr, and is also called “mother of pearl”. This is the “…naturally-occurring organic/inorganic composite, that is a combination of crystalline and organic substances that form the iridescent inner lining of the shell.” In certain species of mollusk, specialized cells called epithelial cells produce nacre. These are toward the outside, while stratified columnar epithelial cells occur toward the center. The nacre is usually put toward the center of the mollusk, creating a nacerous layer, which smooths the inner wall of the being. This serves as a defense mechanism. 95% of nacre is calcium carbonate (CaCO3). One site writes, “This mixture of brittle nanometer platelets and the thin layers of elastic biopolymers makes the material strong and resilient. Strength and resilience are also likely to be due to adhesion by the “brickwork-like” arrangement of the platelets, which inhibits transverse crack propagation.”

Natural pearls can be made around any substance that gets into the shell, like parasites or food. A pearl is created only when this invader can’t be ejected, and starts encystation in the layers of substances mentioned above. These pearls take many, many years to form due to all the layers.

However, there are two different types of pearls. One is the natural kind I have just described, and the other cultured pearls. The main difference is the thickness of the layers in which the pearl is formed. 2 to 5 years is the average time a good quality pearl takes to make. Lower quality pearls are often made faster by inserting a nucleus and speeding up the development of these layers. however, the layers are thinner, and more brittle. In addition, they aren’t as shiny, and won’t last as long.

Pearls are formed as a defense mechanism for an animal with what looks vulnerable behind their shells. Just think, my grandmother’s pearl necklace just got a whole lot more interesting!

Links:

http://www.allaboutgemstones.com/pearl_composition.html

http://captainchemistry.tumblr.com/post/75316059271/relate-with-chemistry-pearls-in-oysters

So ta ta for now and I hope to see your chemical reaction soon!

Hot, Hot, Hot: Spicy Sriracha Sauce

A spicy, garlicky sauce, sriracha is a common condiment used a lot of different foods. But what gives it that specific taste and where does that vibrant color come from?
In the video above, the basic ingredients listed are:

  • vinegar
  • garlic
  • salt
  • sugar
  • Potassium sorbate: prevents mold and yeast within the product and is found in dairy products and wines.
  • Sodium bisulfite: stops the natural browning process when fresh produce is oxidized. This gives it the nice red color.
  • red chili peppers : within the peppers are capsaicinoids, with break up into two more groups: capaicin and dihydrocapsaicin, which make up most the the spice and heat! This “…triggers the TRPV1 receptors protein… which usually respond once the temperature is above 109 degrees F, thus causing the spicy hot sensation,” states the video.  Endorphins are then released. Peppers are part of the Capsicum genus.

However, not all peppers have the same temperature. That is why the Scoville scale was invented, which measures heat with scoville units, from 0 to 16,000,000 scovilles. ( I hope I am spelling that right. It’s abbreviation is SHU.)

Capaicin is extracted from the peppers and mixed in a solution of water and sugar. This is added until a taste tester can’t taste the heat. Every dilution of the sugar and water increases the scale. This has been criticized though, as people can taste to different extents. For example, my mom is more sensitive to heat, while I am not. My dad is even less sensitive than I am.

High performance liquid chromatography is now used, as it is easier and more reliable to give accurate results. This uses American Spice Trade Association Pungency units to measure the heat. One pungency unit is about 1/15 of a SHU.

Sriracha, on the Scoville scale, is from 1000-2500 SHU, while Tabasco sauce can be from 2500-5000 SHU. In retrospect to some peppers, it’s not that hot, but for me, it’s more than enough!

All information came from the video above.

So ta ta for now and I hope to see your chemical reaction soon!

Cute Cotton Candy Chemistry

RELATING IT BACK TO CHEMISTRY: COTTON CANDY

I absolutely love cotton candy. Not like. LOVE. If you ever want to bribe me to do something, use cotton candy. Due to my obsession with cotton candy, which I only ever get when I’m at a carnival or zoo, when I read my friend Lindsey’s chemistry post on it, i just had to do one, too!

Cotton candy, as seen in her blog post, is made entirely of sugar! The stuff you put in the cotton candy machine is called floss, or, sometimes, fairy floss! Anyway, Lindsey describes sugar in a really simple way: “Sugar is a carbohydrate. Sucrose is a type of sugar. Sucrose is a chemical used in chemistry. The chemical formula is C12H22O11. Sucrose has 12 Carbon atoms, 22 Hydrogen atoms, and 11 Oxygen atoms.”  Artificial flavoring, along with dye, are also used, and that gives it the trademark pink or blue color.

One other post by another blogger stated his dislike about not having the cotton candy fresh on a stick, and explained more about how it’s made.  “When you pour sugar into the center of a cotton candy machine, the coils inside heat the sugar to its melting point and break the bonds of the constituent molecules. The hydrogen and oxygen atoms rearrange to form water molecules and promptly evaporate, leaving only carbon behind. The carbon burns, and the sugar begins to caramelize.”

I, too, am a fresh cotton candy person myself, as it is more fun and tastes better when fresh from the machine. Once the sugar floss is in the machine, and after the caramelization, the machine continues revolutions (about 60 per second) and the now hot sugar is forced in a circular motion through the machine from tiny holes in the side. These sugar strands turn solid as soon as they are exposed to the cool air around it.

Cotton candy is one of the only delights that is both commonly seen at fairs and carnivals and needs a special machine that allows the magic of fluffy goodness to melt in your mouth.

Links:

http://chemistry2013-14.tumblr.com/post/75624209704/relating-it-back-to-chemistry-cotton-candy

http://theraptorlab.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/the-science-of-cotton-candy/

Yakking About Yawning

Yawning. I’m getting sleepy just thinking about it! But by now, most of you have probably heard that yawns aren’t actually caused by being tired. Or are they?

Yawning, according to one site, is a “…stereotypical reflex characterized by a single deep inhalation (with the mouth open) and stretching of muscles of the jaw and trunk.” Many animals can yawn, as well as humans, and, while the actual process and connection of yawning has never been solved, it has something to do with the brain’s ability to recognize unconscious signals.

People used to believe it was to bring more air when you had little oxygen, but the lungs cannot actually sense the amount of oxygen. In addition, fetuses can yawn, even when their lungs are not ventilated and different parts of the brain control breathing and yawning. People also believe it is when we are bored or tired, but I would be yawning a lot more in some of my classes! 😉  PVN, or paraventricular nucleus, of the hypothalamaus of the brain can cause yawning when there are low oxygen levels, although this is considered unlikely according to one source, as PVN also plays a role in erections, which are not usually from boredom! However, the PVN does contain many chemical messengers like dopamine, glycine, oxycotin, and ACTH, or adrenocorticotropic hormone, which are all yawn-creating agents.

The most recent idea of why we yawn is to cool down the brain, as people reportedly awn more in the winter when the air around them is cold, as opposed to the summer. Yawning is actually contagious, a phenomenon based on the idea that human reactions as a whole are contagious, or have an urge to be copied. Think of monkey see monkey do, or, more relate-able, someone’s infectious laugh! The point, though, is that we empathize, and therefore cretae a connection through this motion, and want to feel that connection. One site writes, “According to 2012 research, yawns are most contagious among the closest of pals. ‘Researchers discovered that the closer you are to someone genetically or emotionally, the more likely it is that you’ll ‘catch’ their yawn,’ HuffPost Science reported. ”

Fun fact: The average yawn is about 6 seconds long, and, during it, the heart rate increases, although results between individuals can vary.

*Bonus: Yawning’s effects are different from just a deep breath. It is often more satisfying, too!*

Links:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/10/facts-yawning-why-we-yawn-contagious_n_3398301.html

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-we-yawn-when-we-ar/

So ta ta for now and I hope to see your chemical reaction soon!

 

The Periodic Table of Edible

I thought this idea was absolutely awesome! After all, what better way to learn about the periodic table than to bake it? (And then eat it!) But the periodic table is much more than just a bunch of color coded boxes, or, in this case, cupcakes. The periodic table shows some valuable information, just by the location of elements.

But…I figured cupcakes, and the chemical reactions behind them, where a little more interesting to think about, especially after thinking about those delicious cupcakes! Cupcakes, as you probably know, use a good amount of sugar! One site writes, “Sugar contains amino acids that start the caramelizing process and release a chemical called aldehyde.” This is why some pastries have a brown-ish color.

Both baking powder and baking soda produce carbon dioxide, or CO2, as they are heated up. This is what makes it lighter, as it creates air pockets within the pastry. Baking powder is the better choice if you have both on hand, as it requires less chemicals to balance out the flavor. Eggs act as a binding agent, and are seen in most baked goods because of this. You can’t exactly eat a cupcake that isn’t holding itself  together! (You’d have a crumbly mess!) Egg whites are made of mostly protein, which then break down once  heat is applied. In addition, they also add an airiness to whatever fluffy edible masterpiece you are making!

The periodic table is important, and, of course, so are baked goods! I would eat Ta and Ra if I could! Which ones would you eat? Comment below!