Sodium Azide Is The Nastiest Chemical That Ever Saved Lives

Sodium azide is a white powder that explodes when it hits metal. When it hits water, it turns into an acid that can eat through your skin. When it's inhaled, it shreds your lungs. But for a long time, it was in your car. » 4/01/15 7:30am Today 7:30am

You Won't Guess The Weird Yet Simple Way Chemical Pellets Are Made

If you get chemicals, from iodine to detergents, in the form of tiny little pellets, chances are they have been "prilled." What's prilling? Think about what this strange process could be. And whatever you're thinking, it's even simpler than that. » 3/26/15 4:40pm Thursday 4:40pm

This Chemical Saves You From Gas Leaks And Bad Wine

The gas that gets pumped into your house has no smell. This means the first sign you get that you're inhaling gas is a lack of oxygen to the brain. To correct that problem, companies use a chemical characteristic of badly made wine. » 3/25/15 3:40pm 3/25/15 3:40pm

Better Fake Knife Wounds Through Chemistry

My days of knifing people are over. (What can I say? I'm on my third strike.) But when I get nostalgic, there is a way to make fake knife slashes on a person that look real. And better yet, you can use it so it appears right as you draw a (fake) knife across a person's skin, too. » 3/25/15 7:40am 3/25/15 7:40am

There Are Untold Sums Of Money Hiding In Your Poop

America's collective human waste contains millions of dollars worth of energy, water, and even rare and valuable metals like gold and palladium. The question is: How do we extract it? » 3/23/15 12:30pm 3/23/15 12:30pm

This Chemical Reaction Made People Think Satan Was Attacking

Here we see a sped-up video of tin undergoing a normal reaction known as "tin pest." But in the 1800s, tin pest filled cathedrals with screeching cries as it made church organs rip themselves apart, right in front of the parishioners. No wonder they thought it was the work of the devil. » 3/13/15 8:20am 3/13/15 8:20am

Was This Mysterious "Yellow Rain" a Chemical Weapon or Bee Poop?

In 1981, the United States didn't have the best political reputation vis-à-vis Vietnam. So when the US Secretary of State made allegations that the USSR had sprayed both Vietnam and Laos with chemical weapons, the world went crazy. Then the world got confused. » 3/11/15 6:20am 3/11/15 6:20am

Keep Your Wine Fresh After Opening, Using The Power Of Inert Gas

Opening a new bottle of wine always involves a little bit of mental math: Will you be left with a fraction of a bottle? And, if so, how long will you have, before its flavor turns to vinegar? Fortunately, there's a solution, and it's hidden in the periodic table. » 3/10/15 4:20pm 3/10/15 4:20pm

"Flavor Scalping" is Why Your Wine-in-a-Box Tastes Bad

When you get your wine from a box, you know you're not getting the best quality. And that's not just because of appearances. Certain materials cause a process called "flavor scalping," which draws certain chemicals right out of the food. » 3/10/15 12:09pm 3/10/15 12:09pm

10 Gemstones Much Rarer Than Diamond 

Many people know that diamond is actually pretty common when it comes to gemstones (you can find millions of them in your typical candle flame), but who among us can actually name any that are rarer? Here, we present to you a collection of ten of the rarest gemstones on Earth. » 3/06/15 12:00pm 3/06/15 12:00pm

How To Make Hydrochloric Acid Erupt In Smoke Without Ever Touching It

Here's a demonstration common in chemistry classes. Two chemicals, hydrochloric acid and ammonia, are placed next to each other. They don't touch. But one suddenly starts smoking. What happened? » 3/05/15 4:40pm 3/05/15 4:40pm

The Crazy-Ass History Of A Boring-Ass Chemical

You now might use saltpeter if you want an old stump in your yard to decompose faster, but for a millennium it was the cause of wars, massacres, and great grassroots scientific efforts. It changed the history of the world. » 3/04/15 4:00pm 3/04/15 4:00pm

How To Use A Condiment To Get Away With Murder

We've all seen an intrepid investigator spray down a crime scene with luminol and turn off the light, and a seemingly innocent room glows blue, illuminated by the leftover traces of gore. This is usually a sign someone was horribly murdered in that room. But in reality it's also possible that they got into a food… » 3/04/15 6:20am 3/04/15 6:20am

Let MIT Show You How To Be A Murderous Mary Poppins

Remember being enchanted as a kid when Mary Poppins poured out medicine of different colors from the same bottle? This video from MIT lets you pull the same "magic trick"! Only instead of medicine, it's bleach. » 3/02/15 1:40pm 3/02/15 1:40pm

Mix Your Coke With Milk For A Delicious Clear Drink

Want to drink milk, but worried about all the proteins in it disrupting your digestion? Want to drink Coke, but worried about all the acid in it ruining your teeth? Here's a drink that's perfect. You just need to repress your gag reflex. » 2/25/15 2:35pm 2/25/15 2:35pm

Jeans Are Yellow Just After They're Dyed. Here's Why.

The American Chemical Society has given us a video that looks at the chemistry of the pants you're probably wearing right now. Jeans are indigo when they're on your body, but just after they're dipped in dye, they're yellow. Find out what changes them. » 2/23/15 2:00pm 2/23/15 2:00pm

The Harmonious Ecosystem That You Destroy To Make Bread 

A loaf of bread isn't fluffed up by chemistry alone. It's slowly built up by colonies of yeast, which you heartlessly extinguish when you bake the dough in the oven. There's an ecosystem in every loaf, and a special kind of loaf, sourdough, is built by a special kind of ecology. » 2/23/15 6:20am 2/23/15 6:20am

Caffeine Is Amazing And Terrible And Maybe Secretly Ruining Your Sleep

Are caffeinated beverages like coffee magical for fighting the symptoms of sleepiness, or are they evil for interfering with sleep and triggering symptoms commonly associated with anxiety disorders? The answer to both questions is a resounding yes! » 2/19/15 1:29pm 2/19/15 1:29pm

The Secrets Of Keeping Your Relationship Fresh, According To Science

Is there science behind keeping the spark alive in long-term relationships? A psychology researcher from the University of British Columbia says yes ... and she's got tips on how to keep love alive once the initial lust and sparkle dust starts to fade. » 2/14/15 2:35pm 2/14/15 2:35pm