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Acetone and Styrofoam Experiment

I just visited a friend escalator load calculation sells machinery. One of his greatest headaches is getting rid of the large styrofoam blocks that things are packed in. Does anyone know what is done with this stuff after the disposal guys pick it up? Or how it could be reduced in size to be more easily stored? It would be better if we could find a way to re-form it as insulation blocks, for instance.

Thanks for any suggestions. It can be recycled. They crunch it up, melt it, and blow out as styrofoam again. Ironically enough, it's actually more environmentally correct to recycle styrofoam than it is to recycle all the paper containers that MacDonalds switched to using so that people could recycle their food containers. The industry was all set up to recycle the styrofoam, and nobody was bothering to do it I would imagine that has a lot to do with bulk. The stuff's hard to store, big to move, etc.

Cut it into envelope-sized, half-inch-thick slabs and mail it out to junk mailers in their return envelopes. Of course, apathy probably has a lot to do with it. So, any practical suggestions as to how we could re-use this stuff? There was a science teacher guy on David Letterman once who had a giant tank of styrofoam peanuts that he dumped a few cups of acetone on.

They actually shrivelled up and disappeared and he claimed he didn't know what the problem was with styrofoam was because all you had to do was go around dumping acetone on it to get rid of it.

I thought that was somewhat shortsighted reasoning considering what the water supply might look like in a couple years after dumping gallons of acetone into it. Which begs the question, when someone sends you styrofoam peanuts, how do you tell it's not something else? Yeah, I've seen those starch packing peanuts too They made them so they're safe if animals decide to eat them.

They're not too bad with a little garlic. What kind of gases did dissolving styrofoam with acetone give off? Originally posted by Jeff41 Yeah, I've seen those starch packing peanuts too Actually, I believe they made them so that animals would eat them.

That they would be disposed of by mixing with cattle feed for example. My cousins are farmers and they had loads of them, I think they were made from beet-husks or something similar. My cousins used to eat them to show off, apparantly they were like unflavoured, stale cheeze doodles.

Several volatile substances will dissolve styrofoam, but acetone is great, and in reponse to the OP, treating the styrofoam with some solvent will solve one problem you ask about - volume. You can reduce it to virtually zero by this method. But those solvents are often pretty dangerous materials. Folks - try this at home: nail polish remover is essentially acetone.

Drop a little on a packing peanut and watch the thing shrivel.

Science Investigatory Project on Acetone and Styrofoam

Also works pretty well with white out. My WAG is that it would work with magic marker to some extent - but that's a science fair project waiting to happen.Recycle small old Expanded Polystyrene foam insulation cooler s I get monthly with a medication.

In a relatively safe and health conscious way. It does emit co2 and water vapor and not much else. First steps were to isolate a way to turn it from foam into a liquid to both save space, and make it useable. This is also the first step in commercial recycling too.

Did you use this instructable in your classroom? Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson. BTW thi was my source for the-D-limonene although you can get it through amazon and possibly some janitorial supply houses as its sold as a food additive and safe kitchen cleaner.

EPS floats, so it will only touch the solvent on the bottom, ideally you want to use as little solvent as needed to get the job done, i usually added about 20 cc's of limonene per 4 cubic feet or so of EPS. If everyone just did this step, and digested down all the packing styrofoam they get we could save a bunch of landfill space.

how to dissolve styrofoam without acetone

Please note, if you want to work with a colored end product, its pretty easy at this step to add some other 6 PS objects such as a Red Solo cup, or colored disposable plastic picnic plate or whatnot. The slow drying time is a disadvantage of the Limonene, but it being nontoxic, biodegradable, renewable, and pleasantly citrus scented, are a good trade off for the slow thickening time.

Because of the slow drying time, its handy to do largeish batches, because once they are dried to this state, you can cut them up into smaller chunks or leave them for use. Once you have some ingots of PS and limonene that have dried enough to be thick gummy bear consistency, its easy to tear it apart of cut it with scissors for cutting it into bits to fill molds with. Steel molds you can add a little furniture wax or oil to the mold to keep it from sticking, Silicone molds need no release.

In the future i want to experiment more with casting LED's into them, as well as adding magnets, trying out some plasticisers such as Butylated rubber particles to make it a more HIPS style plastic.

This is only a simple starting point guide, most of the molds i made were mostly just proof of concept, I was preparing for the 7th Annual Albuquerque Mini Maker Faire, where i showed off my Styrofoam re-creations and a bunch of my experiments that lead me up to this point, in the process i tried a lot of other solvents, xylene, toluene, acetone, gasoline, naphtha, lacquer thinner, M.

Here is a instructable about using just acetone i think i ran into early on in my research, and is totally worth a credit. Acetone: Works great, turns it into a slurry of dissolved polystyrene that will eventually evaporate thicken and then finally harden, most of the gas is lost, but the acetone gets trapped eventually and blows bubbles into the slowly solidifying stuff, making it bubbly and less than ideal to cast with. Interesting note, water makes the eps crash out of the acetone, but make a odd milky slushy eggdrop soup like stuff.

I've not really worked with water crashed out eps much yet, did it two times and all, may try baking it after drying it to see if it will melt back into a puck. Xyline: also dissolves the product fast, but takes a good long time to dry, and is stinky and bad for many reasons. Lacquer thinner: slow, does soften it and degasify it, but not fully dissolve it, and is stinky and bad for many reasons. End result foams and puffs up as it dries. And dries white, one neat thing is its totally not sticky.

And i don't think much of any is being pulled along in the solvent, making it possibly the most solvent friendly. Might be good for just strictly commercial use, this may also vary by formulation. D-limonene: works great on plain white ps, will dissolve quite a lot per oz, nice smell, not known to be toxic, leaves the ps very clear sometimes a slight yellowing virtually no bubbles, long glass transition. And stay that way at elevated heat 80F and plenty of circulation for months. Cons, very long dry time.

Dissolution of Styrofoam into Acetone

And relatively expensive Pros, not known to be toxic, nice smell, good clean results, not much shrinkage, re-meltable and flows well, stays glassy.

Toluline: works much like limonene stinkier but faster has many more health risks. Gasoline: works but dirty, very yellow stinky foamy result in the end Experiments in mixes of acetone and D'Limonene Cool tool! According to the above site. Theoretical mix RA of 3.Have you ever wondered what Styrofoam is? What does it take to dissolve it, and why does it happen? Is it possible to completely break it down?

We are here to answer your question. In the beginning, we would like to start by mentioning the influence the polystyrene brand name Styrofoam has on the environment.

Polystyrene is one of those materials that surround us everywhere. Polystyrene is an inexpensive and hard plastic, and probably only polyethylene is more common in your everyday life. Things like computers, toothbrushes, hairdryers, TVs, and kitchen appliances are made of polystyrene.

Dissolve Styrofoam in Acetone

Model cars and airplanes are made from polystyrene, as well as many other toys. Also, Styrofoam is used for packaging and insulation, and a lot of parts the inside of your car, like the knobs, keys, and so on. Styrofoam is also used to make drinking cups and food containers — the hard plastic ones and also the soft foamy ones. The worst thing is that plastic never breaks down; it just breaks up into smaller pieces.

Every piece of plastic that has ever been produced still exists in the world today! We are writing about this just to remind you — our Dear Readers — that in our experiment, we are dissolving Styrofoam, but not breaking it down.

In our experiment, we answer the questions:. In the beginning, please take special precautions and use protective glasses, gloves, and clothes to protect your skin. Firstly, you might think there is nothing to prepare, but we encourage you to try to paint the Styrofoam in one color — For example, you can paint heart-shaped block with red color.

Once dissolved, you will get a nice result. Secondly, pour acetone carefully into the glass container. We are using the rather flat glass container, so there is more space for our Styrofoam.

As acetone is a very dangerous substance, please control the speed of pouring and protect your eyes and skin. Thirdly, once we have our container prepared, please place the Styrofoam carefully into it.

Our reaction starts immediately, and the Styrofoam starts to dissolve from the bottom. After a couple of seconds, it dissolves completely. You are right! Styrofoam lost its structure because the air bubbles are released. Yes, these are the air bubbles trapped into the polymer material that keeps its shape.

If you liked this part so far, please subscribe, so you can be the first to know about our interesting articles. It is more about a physical rather than a chemical reaction. The air in the foam evaporates, and because Styrofoam consists mainly of air, it completely loses its structure.

The acetone breaks up the long chain of molecules, and the air goes away, hence the volume shrinks radically. Acetone is a chemical that dissolves Styrofoam. Some types of spray paint, as well as gasoline, will also dissolve Styrofoam. This is all our experiment is about. During the chemical reaction, the air bubbles are released and physical structure is destroyed. And you know what? A modern version, napalm-B, is now thickened using styrene derivatives.Polyurethane foam is more common than you may realize.

It's used for support in your mattresses, chairs, car seats and for insulation in your walls. It's also found in sponges, medical dressings, large filters and soundproofing systems. Polyurethane plastic comes in a flexible foam form that can be applied with a spray can, which makes it easy to use for DIY projects.

It is, however, irritatingly difficult to remove. Not only is the material stubborn and resistant, if removed the wrong way it can cause permanent wall damage. To remove unwanted foam, you'll need various tools and some elbow grease as you try scraping, sawing, prying and dissolving.

First, check whether the foam has cured dried. A noncured material may dissolve on its own over time — no chemicals or blades necessary. But, if the foam has cured, it's time to get out the tools. You can use a stiff-bristled or power wire brush to scrape off the foam and then rinse with water to remove any residue.

For stubborn spots, you can use a reciprocating saw. Avoid cutting at a degree angle so as not to ruin your wall, and steer clear of pipes and electrical lines. You can also go the prying route, using old claw hammers and pry bars.

Older versions of these tools are preferable because the blunt edges will help avoid damaging the wall. Other tools that can be used for removing Polyurethane foam include a long-handled serrated trowel, a drywall saw and a wide-blade putty knife.

Use acetone, which is found in nail polish remover, to clean off uncured wall foam. But, first, test it on a more discreet section of the wall to make sure it won't do any damage. Moreover, avoid cleaning with soap and water, as the moisture will make the foam cure and worsen the situation. Lacquer thinner, which can be purchased at home improvement stores and online, should do the trick when it comes to removing cured wall foam insulation.

Carefully follow the instructions provided on the label. Don't, under any circumstances, apply heat to remove foam insulation. The foam contains many toxins that can be released into the air if heat is applied. When in doubt, call for professional help. It's better to err on the side of caution then cause damage to your wall or, worse, to your health.

Caroline is a writer from NYC. Her writing has appeared in L. Weekly, Elle. Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. How to Dissolve Polyurethane Foam. Share this article. Show Comments.Styrofoam is all around us. It has become one of the most common insulators and packaging materials in the world. Styrofoam coffee cups keep our drinks warm, packing peanuts keep our valuables safe in shipping, and it even keeps our drinks nice and cool inside our cooler on a hot day.

Why is styrofoam so popular? What is styrofoam? Styrofoam is an extruded polystyrene foam that is trademarked by the Dow Chemical Company.

how to dissolve styrofoam without acetone

It is actually polystyrene that has had air pumped through it to increase the amount of air bubbles in the polystyrene. What is polystyrene? First let's dissect the name. Poly means many and styrene is a name for the compound that gives the styrofoam structure. Single styrene chains of molecules are called monomers of styrene mono means one. When many monomers are put together they are called polymers remember poly means many.

So, polystyrene is a series of long organic carbon based molecules, that, when forming consist as in a liquid state think of a puddle of white glue. To turn this into styrofoam, the makers pump air into the mixture to make small beads of polystyrene and, as the foam balls are turning to a solid, they mixed together and formed into a shape like a cup, packaging material or a cooler.

Why is styrofoam such a good insulator? Styrofoam is an excellent insulator meaning that it resists changing temperature. Air is a good insulator. Think about your windows in your house. If you have a double pane window, the air in between each pane resists changing temperature. If it is cold outside, the air gap keeps the warmer air from mixing with the cooler air - thus keeping your house warm. The same is true with styrofoam. The small air bubbles in the foam resist changing temperature.

So, your hot coffee in the foam cup stays warmer longer because the pockets of air are keeping it from interacting with the cooler air outside the cup. Why does acetone melt styrofoam? Styrofoam dissolves in acetone, it doesn't actually melt - melting requires heat. So, the correct question is: Why does acetone dissolve styrofoam? Remember that polystyrene is made up of many smaller molecules called monostyrene. The acetone formula CH3 2CO breaks the bonds that hold the polystyrene together.

And, because styrofoam is mostly pockets of air, when the bonds are broken the air can escape. As the air escapes the volume of the styrofoam decreases. The foam doesn't disappear, it turns into a liquid, mostly void of the air that made it so valuable as an insulator.

Just to prove how much air is in styrofoam, I decided to see if it was possible to dissolve 7 feet of styrofoam in acetone! Was I successful? Watch the video and prepare to have your face melted with science! That is just an expression - I don't intend to melt 'real' faces with science! How to dissolve styrofoam in acetone.If you have ever wanted to make something vanish as if by magic, all you need is acetone and Styrofoam.

While Styrofoam does not decompose quickly or easily, acetone makes it seem to disappear in seconds. This is because acetone is a solvent that breaks down Styrofoam. An experiment with acetone, Styrofoam and a glass bowl or measuring cup shows how much air is in Styrofoam and has pretty magical results.

Basically, it looks like a huge amount of material is dissolving in a small amount of liquid. Styrofoam is actually a trade name, used generically to describe polystyrene foam, a polymer made of a long chain of molecules.

It is injected with gases during the manufacturing process and becomes extremely lightweight, with about 95 percent air. Styrofoam often makes up drink holders and insulating materials, as it is a poor conductor of heat. Acetone is an organic compound with the formula CH3 2CO. A colorless, flammable solvent, it mixes easily with water and evaporates quickly in air. It is popular in plastics manufacturing, industrial cleaning products and some household liquids, such as nail polish remover.

To carry out an experiment with Styrofoam and acetone, all you need is a large bowl or measuring glass. Pour the acetone into the container, then slowly add pieces of Styrofoam. You can use a large piece of Styrofoam, Styrofoam beads or even a Styrofoam cup. Another way of doing this is to pour acetone directly onto a piece of Styrofoam. Do the experiment in a fume hood or well-ventilated room, and wear safety glasses and gloves. Styrofoam dissolves in acetone in a similar way to how sugar dissolves in water.

It is a physical rather than a chemical reaction. The air in the foam leaves, and because Styrofoam consists mainly of air, when it dissolves in acetone it completely loses its structure. The acetone splits up the long chain of molecules, and the air disappears, causing the volume to shrink radically. The Styrofoam does not completely disappear, even though it looks like it has. Rather, the polystyrene molecules are actually present in the acetone solution.

The reaction between Styrofoam and acetone shows how soluble this plastic is in an organic solvent and how much air is in Styrofoam. If you do not have acetone, you can use gasoline or just about any other organic solvent to easily dissolve Styrofoam. Claire is a writer and editor with 18 years' experience. She writes about science and health for a range of digital publications, including Reader's Digest, HealthCentral, Vice and Zocdoc. About the Author.Styrofoam, a lightweight plastic used for packing materials and thermal insulation, dissolves in turpentine because the two substances have compatible molecular properties.

Liquids dissolve solids when the forces holding the solid molecules together is less than the attraction between the liquids and solids. Styrofoam is a type of polystyrene into which air is injected during its manufacture; the air forms tiny bubbles surrounded by stiff walls of plastic. The tiny air bubbles lower the density of the material, making it very light.

Chemically, however, Styrofoam is still polystyrene, so liquids that dissolve polystyrene also dissolve Styrofoam. Turpentine is a volatile oil distilled from the resin of pine trees, having uses as a solvent and in traditional medicines; it has also served as a fuel for oil lamps and engines. Artists have employed turpentine as a paint thinner, as it dissolves oil-based paint.

Turpentine is not a simple substance but rather a mixture of several different organic compounds including pinene. The electrical polarity of molecules is important to understanding how one substance dissolves another.

Some molecules, such as water, are more negative on one side than the other; this imbalance causes the negative parts to repel each other and attract the positive parts of other molecules. On the other hand, some plastics, oils and other substances are nonpolar -- their molecules have roughly the same negative charges all around them, so their mutual attractions are weak. Turpentine contains nonpolar compounds, and polystyrene is also nonpolar.

A solid object holds itself together through forces between atoms and molecules; to dissolve the object, the solvent produces its own forces that counteract those in the solid. The molecules in the solid become more strongly attracted to the solvent than to each other, and the object disintegrates.

When the solvent evaporates, the remaining molecules recombine into a solid. In the case of Styrofoam and turpentine, the solvent evaporates, releasing most of the air bubbles in the plastic foam into the ambient air and leaving behind a lump of solid polystyrene. Chicago native John Papiewski has a physics degree and has been writing since He has contributed to "Foresight Update," a nanotechnology newsletter from the Foresight Institute.

how to dissolve styrofoam without acetone

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