Mother’s Day Spa

Mother's Day Spa

bath salt12Mother’s Day is May 10! Give Mom a relaxing spa day at home with these spa science gifts you can make yourself using mostly household items. Bath salts add luxury to an ordinary tub while teaching about hard and soft water. Fizzy bath bombs delight the senses through a skin-safe chemical reaction. Homemade sugar scrub introduces exfoliants and humectants and their effects on the skin.

What you need:
• Plastic mixing bowl
• Plastic mixing spoon
• 1 cup Epsom salt
• 1 cup sea salt
• 1/2 teaspoon glycerin
• Fragrance or essential oils (craft or health store)
• Colorant (craft store)
• Liquid soap
• Jar with lid, baby soda bottles* or other airtight container

What you do:
• Mix together the Epsom salt and sea salt in the mixing bowl.
• Add glycerin to the salt mixture and mix through. (The glycerin is not necessary, but it helps the colorant and oil get dispersed evenly through the salt.)
• Add a few drops of fragrance or essential oils.
• Add a few drops of colorant. We recommend getting oil-based skin-safe colorant from a craft store or else leaving out the colorant.
• Wet your hands with tap water, add a drop of soap to your hands, then rub together to form a lather.
• Observe how much lather forms, then rinse off your hands.
• Fill a sink with water and add about 1/8 cup of salt mixture to it.
• Use your hands to stir the water to help the salt dissolve.
• With your hands still wet from the salt water, add a drop of soap to your hands and rub them together to form a lather.
• Store the remaining salts in a jar, keeping the lid on tightly to keep moisture out. Use about 1/4 cup of the salts in your bath.

What Happened: Most likely you found it easier to form lather (and more of it!) when using the water with salt rather than the water with no salt. This is because of the difference between hard water and soft water. Most households in America have hard water. Hard water has a high mineral content, usually with calcium and magnesium, whereas soft water contains less of these minerals. Calcium and magnesium ions in the hard water react with the soap, forming insoluble gray flakes called soap scum rather than a lather. This means you need more soap to get clean and the bathtub gets a grimy ring around it from the leftover soap scum. One way to soften hard bath water is to add bath salts. The calcium and magnesium ions in the water are replaced with sodium and potassium ions from the salt, allowing the soap to lather much more easily. (If your home has soft water, you may not notice too much of a difference in how well the soap lathers in the water with your bath salts and the water without the bath salts. However, the salt and essential oils will still have a beneficial effect on your skin.)
Another benefit of adding bath salts to your bath has to do with osmosis. Osmosis is the movement of water through a membrane (such as your skin) to achieve equilibrium. Your body contains water and salt, whereas an ordinary bath contains mainly water and very little salt. Therefore, water passes through your skin in an effort to balance the concentration of water and salt in you and in your bath. This excess water causes “pruning” (your fingers and toes wrinkle). Adding bath salts to the water causes a more equal balance of salt and water in both you and in the bath, so less water enters your skin and less wrinkling occurs. Salt is also thought to draw impurities and toxins out of your skin and soothes sore muscles!

DIY Soap
DIY Honey Scrub
DIY Fizzy Bath Bombs
DIY Lip Balm

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Crusoe’s Science

Crusoe's Science

Robinson science3If you got stuck on an uninhabited island like Robinson Crusoe you will need to know how to get salt for cooking and drinking water for survival.
So, here you go:

What you need:Robinson science1
• large bowl
• short glass or cup
• tape
• plastic wrap
• small rock
• pitcher of water
• salt
• long spoon for stirring

What you do:
• Make saltwater by adding salt to fresh water.
• Stir the water until the salt dissolves.
• Pour about two inches of saltwater in a large bowl.
• Take an empty glass and put it in the bowl. The top of the glass should be shorter than the top of the bowl, but higher than the saltwater.
• Put plastic wrap over the top of the bowl. You may need to use tape to make sure the seal is tight.
• Put small rock right in the center of the plastic wrap, over the empty glass. That will weigh the plastic down and help you collect the water. Now you’ve made a solar still. It’s called a still because it distills, or purifies, water.
• Leave your still outside in the sun.
• Leave it alone for a few hours, or even a whole day. The longer you leave it out, the more water you’ll collect.
• When you’re ready to check your still, take the plastic wrap off and look at the water that’s collected in the cup. Do you think it’s salty or fresh?
• Taste it.

Robinson science2

Tip: Rays from the sun heat up the salty water in the bowl. When the water gets warm, it evaporates and becomes a gas. When the gas rises and hits the plastic wrap, it turns back into water droplets. Eventually, gravity makes the water droplets roll down the plastic wrap towards the rock. Then the water droplets slide off the plastic wrap into the glass. The salt doesn’t evaporate, so it gets left behind in the bowl. Water evaporates in the same way from lakes, rivers, and oceans. The water heats up, turns into a gas, and then condenses to fall back down as rain.

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Crystal Eggs

Crystal Eggs Cover

What you need:Crystal Eggs
• Egg
• Cuticle Scissors
• Paintbrush
• Glue
• Food Coloring
• Alum Powder
• Water
• Paper Towels
• Bowl
• Beaker/Glass
• Spoon

What you do:
• Carefully cut the shell in half, down the egg’s length, with a pair of scissors. If there are any small pieces around the edges, go ahead and pull them off. Use the egg white and the egg yolk for pancakes or something else delicious.
• Continuing to exercise caution, wipe out the inside of the egg with a paper towel. Get the interior surface of the egg as clean and dry as possible without cracking it.
• Drop a small amount of glue into the egg and use a paintbrush to spread it around. Try to cover the entire interior surface, all the way up to the edges, of the egg with glue. Add more glue if needed.
• Before the glue dries, cover it with alum powder.
• Dry it over night.
• Bring two cups of water to the point where it is almost boiling.
• Pour the heated water into a beaker or glass and stir 30-40 drops of food coloring and 3/4 cup of alum powder into the heated water.
• Let the colored alum solution cool for around thirty minutes.
• Place the egg, opening up, into the solution.
• Push the egg to the bottom of the beaker with a spoon and allow the egg  to sit in the solution for 12-15 hours.
• Carefully remove the egg and place it on a paper towel or drying rack to finish the geode-creation process.

NB.: The egg geode is formed through a process called sedimentation. The heated alum solution contains suspended particles of alum powder and as the solution cools, these particles of alum begin settling. When the alum particles settle towards the bottom of the beaker or glass, they begin crystallizing. With the alum-covered egg at the bottom, the alum particles from the solution begin attaching themselves to the egg. Covering your egg in alum powder beforehand gives the suspended alum particles a surface to which they can more readily attach themselves. The particles that settle onto the surface of the egg crystallize, and you will also see crystallization on the bottom and sides of the beaker or glass.

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Water Density

Water density cover

What you need:Water density
• Clear glass or Jumbo Test Tube
• Pipettes or droppers
• Sugar
• Measuring spoons
• Food coloring
• 4 small cups

What you do:
• Fill your cups with 1 cup of warm water and add food coloring to the water.
• Add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the 1st cup, 4 tablespoons to the 2nd cup, 6 tablespoons to the 3rd cup and 8 tablespoons to the last cup.
• Label each cup with the amount of sugar added.
• Stir the water until the sugar is dissolved.
• Start with the cup with the most sugar. Using a pipette, dropper or back of a spoon, begin adding the first layer of sugar water.
• After the first layer, things get challenging. Carefully drip the next dense layer onto the surface of the first. The best technique is to place the pipette right above the surface of the first layer and against the glass. Slowly drip the next color onto the first. This will take a lot of patience. Go slow.
• The colors will begin to mix at first and then your original color will start to show.
• Repeat with the next dense color and the least dense color until you have stacked all of the colors.

NB.: The more sugar you add to the water, the more sugar molecules will take over the space, making the water more dense. The cup containing the 5 tablespoons of sugar will be the most dense, the cup with 1 tablespoons will be least dense. That is why we layer them with the most dense liquid at the bottom and the least dense at the top.

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Metal Etching

Metal Etching Cover

Metal EtchingEtching -method of engraving in which lines or textures are bitten, or etched, into a metal plate, usually copper, with acid. The image produced has a spontaneity of line that comes from drawing on the plate in the same direct way as with pen or pencil on paper. The first etchings date from the early 16th century, but the basic principle had been used earlier for the decoration of armour.

What you need:Metal etching3
• Knife
• Candle
• Sewing needle
• Iodine solution
• Dropper

What you do:
• Light a candle and drop some wax on the knife.
• Put the knife over the candle so the wax melts smoothly and cover the area needed for etching.
• Let the wax cool down.
• Using the sewing needle “etch” the knife. Try to get all the way to the metal.
• Using the dropper drop the iodine solution on the scratches you made in wax.
• Let it sit a little.
• After the iodine solution becomes pale drop a little bit more.
• Let it sit for a couple of hours.
• Wash off the wax and you’ve got yourself an engraved knife.

Note: We ran the knife through the dishwasher and the engraving was still there.

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Iodine Crystals

Iodine Crystals Cover

ScienceToday we are going to recreate Bernard Courtois’ experiment and get iodine crystals. But since not all of us have seaweed at home and the sulfuric acid is very dangerous we are going to use something that almost all of us already have.

What you need:
• Iodine solution
• Hydrogen peroxide
• Glass container

What you do:
• Pour a little bit of iodine solution into a glass container.
• Add few drops of hydrogen peroxide.
• Mix.

What happens:iodine crystals
• After a minute or so you will see grey iodine crystals on the bottom of the glass container.

• The Hydrogen peroxide helps to convert the iodine salts to the desired form.

Note: • Don’t try to store iodine crystals in a plastic bag, as they will  slowly turn to gas and leak through the plastic.
         • Don’t let the crystals sit out too long, they sublimate rapidly and you’ll loose them.
         • Don’t drop any of the iodine crystals on your carpet because the stain will come back for years no matter how good            you clean them. 

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Iodine Science

iodine science cover

54924855_bernard_courtois01Like most other discoveries, the discovery of Iodine was a fortuitous accident. Bernard Courtois discovered Iodine in 1811. His story about the discovery of Iodine was an interesting and ironical one. While most scientists discovered something when trying to help people to save their lives, Courtois discovered Iodine when he was trying to kill people. Bernard Courtois was serving in Napoleon’s army. On account of continuous wars, Napoleon’s army required enormous quantities of gun powder. Saltpeter also spelled as salpeter (potassium nitrate – KNO3) was the principal component in gunpowder. The manufacture of potassium nitrate required potassium carbonate that is generally extracted from wood ashes. Since the sources of willow wood had nearly run out, they wanted some alternative sources of potassium carbonate.

seaweed-gatherers-1889-by-paul-gauguinAs per some suggestions, Napoleon’s army resorted to burning dried seaweed, which was found in large quantities in the coasts of Brittany and Normandy. While the Napoleon’s army was with its mission of making saltpeter, enormous quantities of sulfur compounds also evolved as byproducts. They had to add sulfuric acid to their compounds to clean them up.

iodine vaporThey said that one day the workers of the factory where Bernard Courtois was conducting his experiments ran after a cat and on the its way the cat accidentally dropped the jar with the   sulfuric acid  on the left overs of the saltpeter production which gave out a dense violet vapor cloud that got condensed onto the surfaces of colder metal objects forming highly lustrous crystals.

Courtois jumped in ecstasy at the realization that the cat had accidentally created something new. Courtois’s experimentation with this new element/compound revealed that it could combine well with a few metals, hydrogen and phosphorous, but didn’t react easily with carbon or oxygen. In addition, he discovered that the new element/compound demonstrated explosive properties on mixing with ammonia, but didn’t decompose while subjected to burning.

iodine1He had to conclude that what he accidentally created was not a compound; it was a new element, pure in form. Napoleon’s wars had emptied the government coffers. Also, there was the pressure of newer wars. Therefore, Courtois couldn’t continue with his findings. Courteous passed on his discovery to French scientists Charles-Bernard Désormes and Nicolas Clément. For some reason, Courtois had also given a sample of the new element to Louis-Joseph Gay-Lussac and André M. Ampère, who carried forward the experiment parallel to the other pair.

Iodine gets its name from the Greek word “iodes” which means “violet.”

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