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Chemistry in Daily Life

Everyday Chemistry in the World around Us


Chemistry is a big part of your everyday life. You find chemistry in daily life in the foods you eat, the air you breathe, your soap, your emotions and literally every object you can see or touch. Here's a look at some everyday chemistry.

Elements in the Human Body

Human Head
Steve Allen, Getty Images
Your body is made up of chemical compounds, which are combinations of elements. While you probably know your body is mostly water, which is hydrogen and oxygen, can you name the other elements that make you... you?

Chemistry of Love

Valentine's Day Gifts
Marianne Venegoni, morguefile.com
The emotions that you feel are a result of chemical messengers, primarily neurotransmitters. Love, jealousy, envy, infatuation and infidelity all share a basis in chemistry.

Why Onions Make You Cry

Marcelo Brito Filho
They sit there, so harmless-looking on the kitchen counter. Yet as soon as you cut an onion, the tears begin to fall. What is it in onions that makes them burn your eyes?

Why Ice Floats

The rate at which icecubes melt depends on where there are and the temperature of their environment.
Thomas Northcut, Getty Images
Can you imagine how different the world around you would be if ice sank? For one thing, lakes would freeze from the bottom. Chemistry holds the explanation for why ice floats, while most substances sink when they freeze.

How Soap Cleans

Soapy Hands
Sean Justice, Getty Images
Soap is a chemical that mankind has been making for a very long time. You can form a crude soap by mixing ashes and animal fat. How can something so nasty actually make you cleaner? The answer has to do with the way soap interacts with oil-based grease and grime.

Does Bottled Water Go Bad?

Bottled water may carry an expiration date, but under typical storage conditions it does not go bad.
saw2th, Creative Commons
Food goes bad because of chemical reactions that occur between food molecules. Fats can become rancid. Bacteria grow that can make you sick. What about products that don't contain fat? Can bottled water go bad?

Fruits That Ruin Jell-O

MANOJTV, free documentation license
Jell-O is an example of a polymer that you can eat. Some natural chemicals inhibit the formation of this polymer. Simply put, they ruin Jell-O. Can you name them?

Laundry Detergent in the Dishwasher?

William Roesly, morguefile.com
You can apply chemistry to decide when and where to use household chemicals. While you might think detergent is detergent, so it's interchangeable from one application to another, there are some good reasons why laundry detergent should stay in the washing machine.

Baking Powder Versus Baking Soda

Baking Powder
Ronnie Bergeron, morguefile.com
You can't interchange these two important cooking ingredients, even though they both cause baked good to rise. Chemistry can help you understand what makes them different (and what to do if you run out of one, but have the other in your cabinet).

How Sunscreen Works

Theo Walcott of England applies sunscreen during the FIFA Soccer World Cup.
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Sunscreen uses chemistry to filter or block the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays to protect you from a sunburn, skin cancer, or both. Do you know how sunscreen works or what an SPF rating really means?

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