Examples of Chemistry in Daily Life

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Examples of Everyday Chemistry in the World around Us

Cleaning supplies
You know cleaning supplies are chemicals, but chemistry in daily life extends to everything you can touch or taste. Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Chemistry is a big part of your everyday life. You find chemistry in daily life in the foods you eat, the air you breathe, cleaning chemicals, your emotions and literally every object you can see or touch. Here's a look at 10 examples of everyday chemistry. Some common chemistry may be obvious, but others might surprise you.

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Elements in the Human Body

Human head
In a way, a human being is a big bag of chemicals. 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?

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Chemistry of Love

Love chemistry
When you feel love and other emotions, you are feeling the effects of neurotransmitters and other chemicals. Jonathan Kitchen / Getty Images

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.

Learn About the Chemistry of Love

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Why Onions Make You Cry

Cutting onion
If you cut an onion under running water, most of the chemicals that make your eyes water get washed away. Steven Morris Photography / Getty Images

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? You can be sure everyday chemistry is the culprit.

Why Onions Make You Cry

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Why Ice Floats

Ice water
Ice is less dense than liquid water, so ice cubes float. peepo / 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.

Why Ice Floats

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How Soap Cleans

Washing hands
Soap is a good cleaner because it acts as an emulsifier. 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.

How Soap Cleans

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How Sunscreen Works

Sunscreen
Sunscreens containing zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or avobenzone protect against skin cancer. Roger Wright / 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?

How Sunscreen Works

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Why Baking Powder and Baking Soda Make Foods Rise

Baking soda
If you have either baking powder or baking soda, you can make baked goods rise. skhoward / Getty Images

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).

Understand the Difference Between Baking Powder and Baking Soda

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Fruit That Ruins Gelatin

Pineapple
Fresh pineapple will keep gelatin from setting up, but it's not the only fruit that can ruin the dessert. Maren Caruso / Getty Images

Jell-O and other types of gelatin are 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?

These Fruits Ruin Gelatin

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Can Bottled Water Go Bad?

Water bottles
Bottled water is stamped with an expiration date, but the water itself doesn't actually go bad. Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

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?

Why Bottled Water Has a Shelf Life

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Is It Okay To Use Laundry Detergent in the Dishwasher?

The wrong detergent in your dishwasher could cause it to overflow with soap suds.
One reason you don't want to use the wrong detergent in your dishwasher is because it could cause the dishwasher to overflow with soap suds. Image Source / Getty Images

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.

Why You Shouldn't Use Laundry Detergent in the Dishwasher

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More Examples of Everyday Chemistry

Glucose
Science Photo Library - MIRIAM MASLO / Getty Images

Do you need more examples of everyday chemistry? Here are additional ways chemistry works in your daily life.