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/

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!

Move Over Monstrous Milk!

free_silk_almond_milk

I have always hated milk. There’s no way around it. You had to drink it. And I couldn’t. Yes, I was lactose intolerant. I still hate milk, and I most likely always will. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have milk at all, as I could take lactaid, I just prefer not to. Anyway, I was eating something really, really spicy the other day, and I remembered my earlier post, where milk  quells the fire. Click here to read it: https://tflstar89.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/not-nice-spice-vs-timely-tranquilizer/ So, I ran to the fridge, where I found some milk. But it wasn’t any milk: it was almond milk! I drank it, and it, well, didn’t taste that bad. So I had some more. And some more. Why not take my newfould liking for almond milk and find out more? And that’s exactly what I’ve done:

Breaking down the Food Label:

Calcium : When you think of milk, you think of calcium.  Well, calcium makes up majority of almond milk, too. You can get about 200mg of calcium from drinking just a cup of almond milk! Calcium is important for mineralization and strengthening of our bones, as well as other cellular functions.

Potassium and Sodium:  In almond milk, there are about 180mg of potassium and 150mg of sodium. One article stated, “They have similar chemical structures and perform many special functions in the body. Potassium is necessary for nerve transmission and having insufficient levels of this chemical element leads to different cardiac dysfunctions. Sodium, on the other hand, works against potassium to produce cell membrane charges, which are needed for the transmission of nerve impulses.”

Protein: There is only about one gram of protein in a cup of almond milk, but some protein is better than none! However, regular milk usually contains more protein.

Fat: There is less fat in almond milk than in most other kinds of milk, as there are only unsaturated fats. “The fat content in almond milk ranges from 2.5 to 3.5, which includes Omega 3 fatty acids that can treat arthritis, lower bad cholesterol levels, make people’s moods better, and improve memory.”

Carbohydrates: A website wrote, “You don’t have to worry about consuming too many carbs when drinking a cup of almond milk because it only has around 8g: 1g of fibre plus 7g of sugars.”

Other Minerals and Vitamins: Minerals like selenium, magnesium, and manganese are found in almond milk, as well as vitamin B, vitamin A, vitamin E, and iron.

While the majority of people encourage almond milk, one website shows another, darker side to the sweet almond milk we know. First, almond milk should not be used instead of regular milk for a baby, as they need the creaminess and the protein. In addition, there is more sugar in it. Those with low thyroid functions should not intake a lot of almond milk, as it contains “goitrogenic foods that include broccoli, flax, cabbage, kale, soy and of course almond makes the thyroid to expand while a large consumption of these foods are known to cause goiters specifically when a chemical component contained in the goitrogenic foods creates a barrier to the sufficient intake of iodine by the body.” The only other threat, would should be a little more obvious than the others, is that it contains tree nuts. However, other than these threats, almond milk is a better solution to regular milk, as long as you also eat a balanced diet!

I know I will definitely drink more almond milk, as opposed to not drinking any milk at all!

Links:

http://www.almondmilkhq.com/almond-milk-dangers/

http://www.thatsfit.com/2011/02/16/too-good-to-be-food-blue-diamond-almond-milk/

http://almondmilk.net/almond-milk-nutrition/

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

Turkey Troubles: Don’t Blame the Turkey, Blame the Tryptophan!

With Thanksgiving coming up soon, turkey is often on people’s mind, well maybe not vegetarian’s minds, but the sleepy feeling from Thanksgiving still resonates as a common characteristic. But is it really the turkey?

Yes and no. Turkey contains something called L-tryptophan, an amino acid that creates a feeling of sleepiness. It is used to produce vitamin b and niacin. One website also added that “Tryptophan also can be metabolized into serotonin and melatonin, neurotransmitters that exert a calming effect and regulates sleep.” Despite these known effects, the L-tryptophan in turkey does not make you drowsy. In order for L-tryptophan to make you sleepy, it has to be taken on an empty stomach, without any other amino acids or proteins present. t Thanksgiving, there is often other food on the table, and turkey contains a lot of protein, a sure sign that turkey is no the cause of the sleepiness. Based off one article, “It’s worth noting that other foods contain as much or more tryptophan than turkey (0.333 g of tryptophan per 100 gram edible portion), including chicken (0.292 g of tryptophan per 100 gram edible portion), pork, and cheese. As with turkey, other amino acids are present in these foods besides tryptophan, so they don’t make you sleepy.” L-tryptophan is carbohydrate rich, and leads to serotonin synthesis, which creates a sleepy feeling. The process is that carbohydrates jump start the pancreas to make insulin, and other amino acids enter muscle cells. Serotonin is then synthesized.

With the holidays coming up, the object is to feel happy when stuffed with lots of good food including turkey, and not avoiding it to make the memories last based off some myth. Now that the truth is out, and the turkey does not actually induce sleep, rather the overstuffing of food into one’s body, everyone can have a happy, and healthy, Thanksgiving! Happy Turkey Day!

Links:

http://chemistry.about.com/od/holidaysseasons/a/tiredturkey.htm

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

Not Nice Spice vs. Timely Tranquilizer

Hot, hot, hot! That’s why most people don’t like spice! Not that I love spicy foods, but I can take my fair share. But when enough is enough, there never seems to be anything to put out the fire in my mouth. Water doesn’t help, but one drink readily available for most can stop the fiercest of fiery mouths. That drink is milk.

In certain foods like peppers, there is capsaicin. This also appears in spices like oregano, cinnamon, and cilantro. It is completely odorless, and, according to one article, “A solution that contains only 10 parts per million produces a persistent burning sensation when placed on the tongue.” You can taste it better when there is less of it. The burning flavor comes form a long hydrocarbon tail. It can bind strongly with lipotein receptors. Its fatty tail allows it to move easily through lipid-rich membranes, making the taste fiercer.  Based off what the website said, the compounds have different structures that are very similar. This is the reasoning behind where the burning sensation is. For some peppers, it may be in the mouth, while others in the throat.   The reason for associating the burning sensation for being hot? “The capsaicin key opens a door in the cell membrane that allows calcium ions to flood into the cell. That ultimately triggers a pain signal that is transmitted to the next cell.”  The same thing happens when cells are exposed to heat. That means that  chili and heat burns are similar at the molecular, cellular, and sensory levels.

That still doesn’t explain why water doesn’t help. Capsaicin is insoluble in cold water, but freely soluble in alcohol and vegetable oils. Small amounts alcohol won’t help though, so milk is a better remedy.  “Milk contains casein, a lipophilic (fat-loving) substance that surrounds and washes away the fatty capsaicin molecules in much the same way that soap washes away grease.” But even after you know you can eat spicy foods and still be able to cool yourself down, don’t eat too much! Too much of a good thing is not good at all, and capsaicin is the same!  Capsaicin prevents nerve cells from communicating because it blocks the production of certain neurotransmitters and can even destroy cells! In the past, capsaicin has even been used as a weapon. “The Mayans burned chiles to create a stinging smoke screen, and threw gourds filled with pepper extract in battle.” Today, it is commonly used in pepper spray. It can also be used to relieve pain, after exposure and tolerance to it builds. Some people, if they regularly eat spicy foods, can enjoy it, as endorphins are released after you are comfortable with the taste, making it a pleasant experience.

While I don’t eat spicy foods often, I do love salsa and other spicy things, as long as it isn’t too much in one serving! While I may not get a rush from eating spicy foods, I do enjoy the mouth on fire feeling for a few seconds (and then I just get thirsty!). At least now I know I should drink milk, instead of drinking water!

Links:

http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/features/capsaicin.shtml

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

Cooking Up Some Chemistry!

Chemistry is seen in every aspect of our lives, from fashion to fire, but I haven’t mentioned substantial food, unless you consider pop rocks to be nutritional. When you heat something, say chopped red cabbage, the heat breaks down the colored pigment, changing the pigment from an acid to an alkaline, which causes the color change. If you increase the acidity through the addition of vinegar, some of the color will return. Some vegetables, like asparagus, become brighter when placed in boiling hot water. The water “pops” the air bubbles in the surface cells, making it brighter. The longer you cook it, however, the less appetizing it becomes. If overcooked, asparagus can become shrunken and dark green, due to the release of acid.

Bananas and other fruits give off gas that helps ripen them faster. This is why, when you buy green bananas, they quickly turn yellow if kept in an enclosed bag. Once they are ripe, release some of the gas, so the stay at their peak ripeness as long as possible.

Although I knew about the bananas with their super quick ripening gas, I didn’t know that other fruit had similar gases that did that. Now I know why my fruit ripens so quickly! I also previously knew about asparagus, but I didn’t know the science behind it. However, this idea of the acidity makes sense. The majority of the cooking article was really interesting, especially since I love eating fruits and vegetables! The full article has a link down below!

Link:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2009/0112-chemistry_of_cooking.com

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