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Items we use every day - how do they work, and what are they made from?

The Chemistry of Contact Lenses. Click to enlarge For objects that essentially look like thin plastic films, there’s a surprising amount of chemistry behind contact lenses.

The Chemistry of Contact Lenses

This chemistry is designed to maximise comfort whilst they are being worn, and as such it’s also been constantly evolving and improving. The Chemical Reactions That Make Hand Warmers Heat Up. Bryan Edwards Oxygen in the air reacts with this powder to yield iron oxide—rust—and heat.

The Chemical Reactions That Make Hand Warmers Heat Up

These hotties can reach up to 163 degrees Fahrenheit; military-grade warmers (for heating MREs) can get to upwards of 200 degrees. Manufacturers produce iron powder by either crushing iron or spraying a molten stream with water. Fun fact: We eat about 2 million pounds of iron powder each year in our favorite (fortified) breakfast cereals. Yum! The Chemistry of Silly Putty.

Click to enlarge Silly putty (or science putty, as it’s sometimes referred to) is an odd material.

The Chemistry of Silly Putty

Stretch it slowly and it happily deforms, and can be molded very easily. However, pull it apart with enough force and it’ll snap clean in two. It flows imperceptibly slowly, as if it were a thick liquid, but when rolled up into a ball will bounce if thrown at a hard surface. Sticky Science – The Chemistry of Superglue. Click to enlarge Superglue is an incredibly useful invention, allowing us to repair all manner of objects.

Sticky Science – The Chemistry of Superglue

However, it nearly wasn’t invented at all! Here’s a quick look at the story of superglue, and, more importantly, the chemistry that allows it to do its job. Superglue was initially discovered by accident. Dr Harry Coover, a researcher at Kodak laboratories, was trying to develop clearer plastics for use as gunsights during the Second World War when he stumbled across cyanoacrylates, the class of chemicals used in superglue. Deicers and antifreeze. Understanding The Catalytic Converter. The Chemical Elements of a Smartphone. Click to enlarge There are an isolated few graphics online that look at elements involved in the manufacture of a smartphone – for example, this ‘Periodic Table of iPhones’ – but there’s actually remarkably little easily accessible information out there that details the specific compounds used for specific purposes in mobile phones.

The Chemical Elements of a Smartphone

This probably isn’t surprising since these details are probably kept under the lock and key of patent laws and the like; however, I tried my best with this graphic to provide a little more detail about specific uses, an undertaking that took a lot more effort than I initially expected! Inks. Chemistry of Beats. The Chemistry of Stain Removal. Click to enlarge Stains on clothes can be a pain to shift – luckily chemistry is on hand to help out!

The Chemistry of Stain Removal

A range of different molecules are present in stain removers and detergents to help shift grease and dirt, and they can work in different ways. This graphic takes a look at how we can categorise different types of stains, and how the molecules that help remove them work. Stains themselves can be roughly grouped into several classes: enzymatic, oxidisable, greasy, and particulate. The Science Behind Hair Coloring. Before we get into the specifics of what chemicals are in dye it is important to review the basic anatomy of hair since in order for dye to work the hair itself needs to be altered in several ways.

The Science Behind Hair Coloring

Each piece of hair has two regions- the shaft and the root. The root is below the surface, anchored into the follicle and the shaft is the above the surface portion. Hair is made up largely of dead cells, with only a few live cells at the base of the root. Colour to dye for. Every two months Barclay Cunningham goes through a process that begins with taking an antihistamine tablet.

Colour to dye for

After a few hours, she smears a thick layer of antihistamine cream across her forehead, around her ears and over her neck. Finally, she shields the area with ripped-up plastic carrier bags. All this so she can dye her hair. It didn’t start out this bad. Cunningham coloured her hair for a decade without any problems. Compound Interest - A Guide to Common Household Plastics.

Click to enlarge Plastic is everywhere in our day to day lives – but, of course, ‘plastic’ is just a catch-all term for a range of different chemical substances.

Compound Interest - A Guide to Common Household Plastics

The Chemistry of Coloured Glass. Click to enlarge Coloured glass is something that’s commonplace in our lives, from the green of wine and beer bottles, to the red, yellow, and green of traffic lights.

The Chemistry of Coloured Glass

The origin of these colours is something we don’t give a lot of thought to, but a range of different elements are responsible. This graphic takes a simple look at a few of these, and the colours they impart. Before discussing the cause of colour in more depth, it’s worth discussing the chemical composition of glass itself. There are actually different types of glass for different purposes. Another type, which those who work in science laboratories will be familiar with, is borosilicate glass. Coloured glass can actually be produced in a number of ways, but there are three main methods.

Another manner in which colour can be introduced is by formation of colloidal particles. The Chemistry of Highlighter Colours. If you’re currently a student, then you’ll no doubt often make ample use of highlighters during revision. Even if your studying days are far behind, you probably still use them from time to time. But what are the chemicals behind their luminous colours? Cosmetic Chemistry - Chemistry Encyclopedia - structure, water, examples, metal, number, salt, molecule, History, Emulsions. Photo by: danielsbfoto The global market for skincare and color cosmetics exceeded 53 billion dollars in 2002.

The number of new products brought to market continues to expand exponentially. Cosmetic chemists are always looking for interesting and exotic ingredients that improve skin's appearance and health. A vast array of compounds is required to supply these products. The latest edition of the Cosmetics Toiletries and Fragrance Association (CTFA) Dictionary lists more than 10,000 raw materials. History The appearance of skin care formulation dates to around 3000 B.C.E. in ancient Egypt. Today. Magazine: Hair: Activities. The Chemistry of Matches. Click to Enlarge After fielding questions from students about what chemicals are in matches this week, it seemed like a good topic for a post looking at the question in more detail. When using matches on a day-to-day basis, you probably don’t think much of the chemical composition, or the reactions that are being set off; this graphic takes a look at some of the chemicals you can find in your average safety match, and the role they play.

Matches, as it turns out, have been around for a long time. Skin Care Topicals from A to Zinc. Why is glass transparent? - Mark Miodownik. Why do we have to wear sunscreen? - Kevin P. Boyd. Visual Ingredients. Here are the last of the Visual Ingredients posters I’m planning to make. Here’s Chanel No. 5 and a cheap (but also popular) deodorant as well just for the comparison’s sake. Enjoy! More book reviews coming soon. At the beginning of the year, I set a goal of reading and reviewing 104 books in 2013… I’ve read 87 so far, and the reviews are either uploaded or queued. The chemistry of cold packs - John Pollard. How Can Xylitol Gum Help Prevent Tooth Decay? Click to enlarge Tooth decay, also commonly referred to as dental caries, is the result of acidic conditions in the mouth, due to bacterial activity.

These conditions lead to the outer layers of the teeth slowly being dissolved, which can eventually lead to holes in the teeth (cavities) in serious cases. To combat this, xylitol gum has been suggested as a potential preventative measure – but is this backed up by scientific research? Tooth decay affects a larger number of children in the US than any other chronic disease. Worldwide, it affects an estimated 5 billion people, and caries preventative programs are lacking in developing countries; the World Health Organisation estimates that more than 90% of cases of dental caries in developing countries are left untreated. Hydrogen Peroxide: Hair Dye, Glow Sticks & Rocket Fuels. Cosmetic Chemistry – The Compounds in Red Lipstick. The Chemistry of Glow Sticks. Click to enlarge Everyone’s familiar with glow sticks, but it’s likely that fewer are familiar with the chemistry behind their glow. Fluoride & Water Fluoridation – An Undeserved Reputation? The Chemistry of a Football Shirt.

How Do Tanning Lotions Work? – The Chemistry of Fake Tan. The Chemistry of Insect Repellents. Sodium Hypochlorite – Bleach, Swimming Pools & Cleaning Products. The Chemistry of the World Cup Football. The Science of Sunscreen & How it Protects Your Skin.

Food, Cosmetics & Explosives – The Versatility of Glycerol. The Chemicals in Cigarette Smoke & Their Effects. What Makes Shampoo Foam? Everyday Compounds: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Everyday Compounds – Aluminium Chlorohydrate. How are Lego® bricks made? The Chemistry of LEGO®