My Essay for my Chemistry class

I’ve been doing a chemistry class on coursera.com, taught by a Duke University professor, and one of the challenges for those who wish to earn the Statement of Accomplishment with distinction is to write an essay on anything related to Chemistry. You get to review other people’s, they review yours.

The Chemistry involved in this is basically what the title says: awesome booms that can be created using chemistry, elements and your hands.

The first explosion I’ll share with everyone (who is doing this) is a DIY smoke bomb. They seem pretty easy to make, and while I’ve experimented with store bought smoke bombs, I’m pretty sure it would be awesome to make them myself. The recipe is as follows, with the formulas for the compounds listed for no other reason except to be there. 😛

I’ll include the recipe for the white smoke bomb only, to save room for other things because this would be really boring if the only thing I talked about was how to make 5 different color smoke bombs (I might find it interesting, but I don’t know about the rest of you). So, enough procrastination and waiting, without further ado except for a few more words, here’s the ingredients, along with the source:

Potassium nitrate (KNO3) – 4 parts
Charcoal (C7H4O) – 5 parts [1]
Sulfur (S8) – 10 parts
Wood dust – 3 parts
[2] The parts don’t have to be a specific measurement (ex. grams, pounds, etc.), so you can have, let’s say 4 g KNO3, 5 g C7H4O, 10 g S8, and 3 g Wood Dust, mix them together, light them on fire, and then you have yourself a smoke bomb! I think this would be popular with kids, if their parents knew what they were doing, and a potential product for selling, if you sold the mixture in a disposable ball with an opening or something.

So that’s 300 words, so about halfway done, probably one more cool explosion, but first I have to do what the questions ask. There is no economical impact really with smoke bombs, some questions for potential research papers in the future about this relating with Chemistry would be something along these lines:

What other chemicals could substitute for the listed ingredients?
What would be a good selling price of smoke bombs if you were to make them yourself, then sell your product?
Why am I doing a research paper on smoke bombs in the first place?

Ok, now I’m going to explain another type of bomb, but this type of bomb is one that actually is useful to your relaxation time in the bathtub. These bombs are called bath bombs, and they seem pretty cool (I will hopefully soon make some myself). They turn your water a color, while also emitting fizz. The cool thing about these is that you can customize their color by simply using food coloring.

Here are the ingredients, the steps and the reference [3]:

Food coloring (Your favorite color)
Sweet almond oil or other light vegetable oil
Essential oil (make sure it is suitable to put in bath bombs and that it’s not for oil burners or candles)
10 tablespoons bicarbonate of soda
3 tablespoons of citric acid
Large mixing bowls – glass works best
Muffin tray or other mould
Small glass jar
Mixing spoon
Whisk
And, the steps:

Use the almond oil to lightly grease the muffin tray or mould.
Mix the citric acid and bicarbonate of soda together in a glass bowl. Make sure you get any lumps out.
Mix together 12 drops of your essential oil, 10 teaspoons of sweet almond oil and 15-20 drops of food colouring. Don’t use any more food colouring, otherwise it will turn your bath a funny colour!
Gradually pour the oil mixture into the dry mixture, stirring well. If the mixture starts to foam, you’re adding the oil too quickly. The mixture is ready when it has the consistency of damp sand.
Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray and press down firmly. It should make 2-4 bath bombs, depending on the size of your muffin tray.
Leave the bath bombs to set for a few days.
When you want to use one, carefully take it out of the mould and drop it into your bath.

The chemical reaction is caused between the Citric Acid and bicarbonate of soda, which creates Carbon Dioxide in the water, which causes the fizzing. This is a cool project, which can triple as a science experiment, a gift for someone, and bathtime fun.

References:

1: Chemical Formula for Charcoal which helped me out
2: I lost the second link, but I know it was on chemistry.about.com
3: The Fizzy Bath Bombs!

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