JCE Resources for Chemistry and Cleaning

Oct 10, 2002 - Keeps Us Clean”. A look back through the Journal of Chemi- cal Education yields many articles connected to this theme. Students can m...
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Chemical Education Today

NCW 2002: Chemistry Keeps Us Clean

JCE Resources for Chemistry and Cleaning


by Erica K. Jacobsen photo J. J. Jacobsen and E. K. Jacobsen

Remember these advertising claims and images? pH-balanced for a woman. The dirt is finished but the finish is fine. Protein gets out protein. A drop of blue liquid dishwashing detergent as it “takes grease out of your way”.

The claims of cleaning products and personal care items are known to many. National Chemistry Week 2002 makes use of this familiar subject with its theme of “Chemistry Keeps Us Clean”. A look back through the Journal of Chemical Education yields many articles connected to this theme. Students can make soap, test the properties of various household cleaners, find out how vacuum cleaners work, and more—all in the name of chemistry. Like those associated with past NCW themes (1, 2), this annotated bibliography collects the best that past issues of the Journal of Chemical Education have to offer those working on this year’s National Chemistry Week. The format is also similar. Each article has been characterized as a demonstration, experiment, activity, informational, or software/ video item; several fit in more than one classification. The most recent articles are listed first. Also included is an evaluation as to which levels the article may serve. Articles that appeared adaptable to other levels, but are not designed explicitly for those levels, are labeled “poss. h.s.” “poss. elem.”, and so forth. Since all references are to Journal articles, they appear in abbreviated form, including only year, volume, page.

Soap bubbles are fascinating and beautiful. See p 1164 and p1168.

Acknowledgment The author thanks Nancy Gettys for extensive searches of the JCE Online index that were the groundwork for this resource paper. W

Special JCE Online Supplements

You will find 22 articles marked with a W. This indicates that the full text of the article is available to subscribers on JCE Online. Literature Cited 1. Jacobsen, E. K. J. Chem. Educ. 2001, 78, 1316. 2. Jacobsen, E. K. J. Chem. Educ. 2000, 77, 1256.

Erica K. Jacobsen is Associate Editor, Secondary School Chemistry, JCE; [email protected].

★ Resources for Cleaning Chemistry: Entertaining and Educational Activities with Soap Bubbles. Williams, K. R.; 2002, 79, 1168. Informational/Experiment; all levels “From Past Issues” feature that cites and describes soap bubble activities. Up on Chemistry. Trantow, A.; 2002, 79, 1168A. Activity; all levels Students make toothpaste and compare its properties to those of commercial toothpaste.



Up: Soap, Detergent, and More. Judd, C. S.; 2002, 79, 1179. Activity; all levels Describes Web sites that cover various aspects of cleaning. WChemists

Clean Up: A History and Exploration of the Craft of Soapmaking. Kostka, K. L.; McKay, D. D.; 2002, 79, 1172. Informational; h.s./coll. Explores the history and chemistry of soapmaking.



of an Oxygen Bleach: A Redox Titration Lab. Copper, C. L.; Koubek, E.; 2001, 78, 652. Experiment; coll./poss. h.s. Students analyze a commercial oxygen bleach through titration with potassium permanganate after balancing the redox equation that describes the titration. W The

Household Chemistry of Cleaning Pennies. Rosenhein, L. D.; 2001, 78, 513. Informational; h.s./coll. Discusses the chemistry involved in using salt–vinegar solutions to clean copper pennies. photo J. J. Jacobsen and N. S. Gettys


Water beads up on a clean, dry coin. After a surfactant such as dishwashing liquid is added, the drops spread out over the surface instead.

Journal of Chemical Education • Vol. 79 No. 10 October 2002 • JChemEd.chem.wisc.edu

Chemical Education Today

NCW 2002: Chemistry Keeps Us Clean

★ Resources for Cleaning, continued Bubble, Toil and Trouble. Journal Staff; 2001, 78,

40A. Activity; all levels Students test various solutions to see which produces the longest-lasting bubbles. A standard solution of water and liquid dishwashing soap is used first and then various substances are added to it.

photos by J. J. Jacobsen and E. K. Jacobsen

Soap solutions with different additives are used to form bubbles on plastic lids to answer the question, “Which will form the longest-lasting bubbles?”

A bubble is made by blowing air into a soap solution with a plastic drinking straw.

Many powdered laundry detergents list aluminosilicate, also known as sodium zeolite A, as an ingredient. In "Cleaning Up with Chemistry: Investigating the Action of Zeolite in Laundry Detergent" (Oct 1999) students extract zeolite from laundry detergent and examine its properties.

photo J. J. Jacobsen and E. K. Jacobsen



Up with Chemistry: Investigating the Action of Zeolite in Laundry Detergent. Journal Staff; 1999, 76, 1416A. Activity; h.s./coll. Students extract sodium zeolite A from powdered laundry detergent and examine its water softening properties.

Journal Staff; 1999, 76, 192A. Activity; h.s./coll. Students make soap from vegetable shortening and NaOH solution and investigate its properties. WSoapmaking.


Comes Alive! Vol. 2. Jacobsen, J. J.; Moore, J. W.; 2000, 77, 671. Chemistry Comes Alive! Vol. 5. Jacobsen, J. J.; Johnson, K.; Moore, J. W.; Trammell, G.; 2001, 78, 423. [both volumes available from JCE Software] Software/video; h.s./coll./poss. elem. QuickTime video is available for the following: Vol. 2: "Ferrofluids". The inverse micelles of ferrofluids are compared to soap. Vol. 5: "Cleaning Oil Spills". An oil spill is cleaned using a polymer. "Soap Emulsifies Hydrocarbons". Soap emulsifies kerosene.

W Building

the Interest of High School Students for Science—A PACT Ambassador Program To Investigate Soap Manufacturing and Industrial Chemistry. Lynch, M.; Geary, N.; Hagaman, K.; Munson, A.; Sabo, M.; 1999, 76, 191. Informational; h.s./coll. Describes the initiation, organization, and curriculum of a program for high school students that investigates soap manufacturing.


the EDTA Content in a Consumer Shower Cleaner: An Introductory Chemistry Laboratory Experiment. Weigand, W.; 2000, 77, 1334. Experiment; coll./poss. h.s. Students determine the EDTA content of a shower cleaner and investigate chelants in a guided-inquiry experiment. to Black—and Back. Journal Staff; 2000, 77, 328A. Activity; h.s./coll./poss. elem. Students remove tarnish from silver using the reaction of tarnish with aluminum.

A student pours a heated batch of soap into molds and allows the bars to cool.

Colored kerosene is poured onto a dish of water to simulate an oil spill.

The porous inner structure of the polymer encapsulates the oil and forms a semi-solid mass.


A student experiment results in finished bars of soap extracted from soap molds.

photos from CCA! 5

photo J. J. Jacobsen and K. Johnson


Enviro-Bond, a hydrocarbon polymer, is sprinkled on top of the oil spill.

The oil is now easily removed from the water, cleaning the surface.

Journal of Chemical Education • Vol. 79 No. 10 October 2002 • JChemEd.chem.wisc.edu

Chemical Education Today

NCW 2002: Chemistry Keeps Us Clean

★ Resources for Cleaning, continued of Exotic Soaps in the Chemistry Laboratory. Phanstiel IV, O.; Dueno, E.; Wang, Q. X.; 1998, 75, 612. Experiment; h.s./coll. Students make soap using various fats brought from home, investigate the soap’s properties, and discuss why soaps made from different fats have different properties. the Surface: Mini-Activities Exploring Surface Phenomena. Journal Staff; 1998, 75, 176A. Activity; all levels Students investigate the surface tension of water and the action of a surfactant.

photos J. J. Jacobsen and N. S. Gettys




of Zeolite A Obtained from Powdered Laundry Detergent: An Undergraduate Experiment. Smoot, A. L.; Lindquist, D. A.; 1997, 74, 569. Experiment; coll./poss. h.s. Students extract zeolite A from powdered laundry detergent and investigate its water softening, desiccant, and ion exchange properties, and its role as a dehydration catalyst. This article was the basis for the JCE Classroom Activity ”Cleaning Up with Chemistry” described above. W Analysis

The cover of the May 1997 issue shows several unit cells of the crystal lattice of zeolite A. Zeolite A is used as a detergent builder due to its ability to exchange sodium ions contained in its pores for calcium and other hardwater ions.

of Mouthwash. Siegrist, E.; Anderson, G.; 1997, 74, 567. Experiment; coll./poss. h.s. Students analyze the dyes found in mouthwash along with its alcohol content. Dye analysis requires a spectrophotometer and alcohol analysis a gas chromatograph. WMusk

Oxen and Micelles. Hill, J. W.; 1996, 73, 847. Informational; h.s./coll. Uses the behavior of musk oxen herds as an analogy for the behavior of amphipathic substances such as soap.


a Window Cleaner Company. Sarquis, A. M.; Peters, Jr. B. L.; Coffey, L.; Hershberger, J. W.; Bucheit, R.; 1995, 72, 344. Experiment; all levels Students create, market, and advertise their own window cleaner and compare its properties with commercial cleaners.

A Study of the pH of Perspiration from Male and Female Subjects Exercising in the Gymnasium: A Practical Challenge for Students in the Nonscience Major Class. Doran, D.; Tierney, J.; Varano, M.; Ware, S.; 1993, 70, 412. Informational/Experiment; h.s./coll. Describes a study and its experimental procedure that compares the pH of male and female perspiration. Discusses student perceptions before the study, which was sparked by a discussion of advertiser claims that a deodorant was “pH-balanced for a woman”.


A square grid of wax crayon lines forms the boundary of these “square water drops”. Water ordinarily beads into round drops, even within a square boundary. When dishwashing liquid is added to water, its surface tension decreases and water flows to the edges of the boundary.


Vacuum Cleaners Pick Up Paper: Demonstrating the Relationship between Air Pressure and Vacuums. Neils, T. L.; 1993, 70, 327. Demonstration; h.s./coll./poss. elem. Demonstrates how vacuum cleaners work and their relation to air pressure using a vacuum cleaner with a hose, paper, and a sheet of silicone rubber. Chemical Aspects of Antiperspirants and Deodorants. Schamper, T.; 1993, 70, 242. Informational; h.s./coll. Discusses the basic science of sweat production and the chemistry and manufacture of antiperspirants and deodorants. How Good Is Your Bleach? McCullough, T.; Tyminski, H.; 1989, 66, 973. Experiment; coll./poss. h.s. A temperature change is used to compare the strengths of various brands of bleach using the exothermic reaction of household bleach and acetone to produce NaOH, sodium acetate, and chloroform. EDTA-Type Chelating Agents in Everyday Consumer Products: Some Food, Cleaning, and Photographic Applications. Hart, J. R.; 1985, 62, 75. Informational; coll./poss h.s. Discusses why chelating agents are needed in six types of cleaning products such as floor wax removers and soaps. EDTA-Type Chelating Agents in Everyday Consumer Products: Some Medicinal and Personal Care Products. Hart, J. R.; 1984, 61, 1060. Informational; coll./poss h.s. Describes chelating agents and why they are included in products such as contact lens cleaner, shampoo, and disinfectants. Chemistry Workshops to Prolong the Lives of Your Favorite Janitors. Aronson, J. N.; 1983, 60, 1036. Informational/Demonstration; h.s./coll./poss. elem. Discusses and demonstrates the properties of various cleaning products along with the possible dangers of working with them.

Journal of Chemical Education • Vol. 79 No. 10 October 2002 • JChemEd.chem.wisc.edu

Hydrogen Peroxide in Cleansing Antiseptics. Worley, J. D.; 1983, 60, 678. Experiment; coll./poss. h.s. Students determine the peroxide content of antiseptic mouthwashes and canker sore treatments using permanganate and a gas collection system. Transparent Soap. Hill, J. W.; Hill, C. S.; 1980, 57, 372. Experiment; h.s./coll. Students make transparent soap using soap flakes, glycerol, ethanol, and water. The soap can be colored and scented. The Development of Diphosphonates as Significant Health Care Products. Francis, M. D.; Centner, R. L.; 1978, 55, 760. Informational; coll./poss. h.s. Describes how research in detergents and toothpastes led to the discovery of medical applications of diphosphonates. WThe

pH of Hair Shampoos: A Topical High School Experiment. Griffin, J. J.; Corcoran, R. F.; Akana, K. K.; 1977, 54, 553. Informational/Experiment; h.s./coll. Students test the pH of shampoos and conditioners. Discusses the relevance of pH in cleansing, damaging, and conditioning hair. WChromatography

and Household Cleaning. McCullough, T.; 1973, 50, 830. Informational; h.s./coll. Discusses how the techniques of chromatography apply to cleaning floors and stained clothing.

Additional JCE Resource Papers These resource papers were constructed around previous National Chemistry Week themes by Erica K. Jacobsen of the JCE staff. JCE Resources in Food Chemistry, 2000, 77, 1256–1267. JCE Resources for Chemistry and Art, 2001, 78, 1316–1321.

JChemEd.chem.wisc.edu • Vol. 79 No. 10 October 2002 • Journal of Chemical Education