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!

It’s Okay, Don’t Cry!

I happen to love the favor of onions. But I don’t love the process of cutting them up. First off, no matter how hard you try, you always start tearing up. And don’t even think about wiping your eyes with your onion covered hands! SO I wanted to learn why you tear up, and, how do you stop it?

Onions are made up of a tunic of outer leaves, scales, and the basal plate. One site puts the reason, “When you cut the basal plate or shoot, they release an enzyme.That enzyme reacts in the rest of the onion to release a gas. When that gas combines with water, it creates an acid. If that water is in your eye, you have acid in your eye. That makes you cry.”

To prevent tearing up, you could use a variety of ways, like a very sharp knife. What releases the enzymes is broken or crushed cells, and, by using a sharper knife, more cells are sliced, therefore emitting less enzymes. Putting them in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before you cut them can also help, as this reduces the amount of the acid enzyme released into the air. Another way to stop the tears is to wear goggles or contacts, as it creates a barrier between your eyeballs and the air. Cutting the onion underwater or near steam or running will work too. Just to be safe, try breathing through your mouth, or with your tongue sticking out.

For more ways, see the link below. Cutting onions is something everyone does at least once, and now you can master the chopping block without tearing up!

Links:

http://www.wikihow.com/Chop-Onions-Without-Tears

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!