Monday, November 2, 2020

How to Prove You Slept Through Chemistry: My First Shower Cleaner Recipe Tested

I went through countless recipes, taking down website addresses and ingredients. I was determined to find something that would fit every requirement for the perfect shower cleaner. My fingers happily bounced across the keyboard, typing out ingredients, and then...

baking soda, vinegar, dish soap...?!

Oh, dear.

I recognized this recipe, and so, I imagine, did you.

Basic chemistry teaches us that baking soda and vinegar combine to create a fun little reaction in which you get a slight bubbling over of ingredients. I love to do this to clean my sink drain every couple of weeks.

But dish soap!

You probably remember that kid from the elementary school science fair: the one that took their time molding the perfect sculpture of a volcano, then added baking soda inside the "spout." They poured the fluid into the spout, and BAM!

volcano venting a lot of steam
Image by Julius Silver from Pixabay

A large amount of froth spewed out of the volcano sculpture. The adults all made impressed noises, and the kid got a B for effort because it was supposed to be an experiment, not a demonstration. We all loved watching that volcanic demonstration, though. 

So what does this story have to do with the recipe I discovered, you ask?

That fluid mixture was a combination of vinegar and dish soap.

I spent a few moments trying to decide whether the person that created this recipe was joking or if she slept through 3rd-grade chemistry. After perusing the page, I decided it was the latter. 

You see, the dish soap is what really made me pause. Even combining vinegar and baking soda doesn't faze me because the resulting bubbles are mild and short-lived. 

When you mix dish soap with vinegar, however, the baking soda/vinegar explosion becomes more potent. The more the dish soap blends with the vinegar, in fact, the more exciting the reaction becomes.

I was always careful to abide by science fair rules and never did the volcano demonstration. That left a gap in my younger self's experiences. Therefore, I decided to play with the ingredients and see just how big of an explosion I'd get. 

blue fluid being poured into a baking soda filled measuring cup

frothing white mixture covering a large area around a measuring cup in a sink

As you can see, this isn't a particularly good idea for a shower cleaner, but it does provide entertainment for yourself, as well as any children currently being remote-schooled in your home!

And speaking of children, I found a great article on Fun At Home With Kids that gives parents a great idea for how to teach chemistry to their young ones using a baking soda/vinegar demonstration--with dish soap! The author goes into detail about the science behind this reaction.

Now, don't use any recipes calling for this ingredient blend if you're planning to make shower cleaner, and stay tuned for my next shower cleaner test!

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