Monday, February 13, 2012

Products, Reactants, and Chemical Equations Lab

This lab served two purposes: 1) to illustrate how products can change during a chemical reaction and become a reactant and 2) to make me some home-made laundry detergent.  One of my coworkers has started making laundry detergent for the school.  It's about 1/7th or LESS the cost of typical laundry detergent, works wonderfully, and smells wonderfully. * It cost me between 25 and 30 bucks to buy enough supplies for 7 batches of this, also known as 35 gallons of laundry detergent. *   As for why my school needs laundry detergent, we provide and keep clean uniforms and PE clothes for all of our students.   I figured I'd try making my own since my coworker sent out a recipe and I'm rarely against saving money.  So after learning about chemical equations, chemical reactions, products, and reactants, we did an activity.  The subsequent discussion was a chemical equation of laundry detergent formation (roughly guesstimated) and a list of the products and reactants of laundry detergent.  It seemed to really help them make the mental connection between products and their (sometimes) changes into something different, but still supporting the law of conservation of matter, in the form of a product.

Here's the Recipe:

1 bar grated Fels Naptha soap (you can get this at Wal-mart with the laundry stuff or at Publix)

5 gallon bucket

1 cup washing soda (Arm and Hammer.  Not baking soda, washing soda)  

1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax 

4 1/2 gallons water

Put grated Fels Naptha in saucepan and cover with water. Heat on low until dissolved. Fill bucket with hot water and add soap. Stir to combine. Add 1 cup washing soda and 1 cup borax and mix well. As it cools, it will thicken. If mixture becomes too thick, add hot water to thin it to desired consistency.  May be used immediately. Mix well before each use. Use 1/2(normal) to 1 cup per load (heavy). Cost per load .04.

Grating the Fels Naptha...looks remarkably like cheese, smells really clean

Everybody got a turn grating until it was down to a nub, when teacher took over for safety.

trying to get Fels Naptha dissolved.


Semi-final product.  Just add 4.5 gal water and stir.

This is why I love my coworkers, Maverick and Ice Man.
** When I got home, I added less than a load's worth of my regular scented laundry detergent, even though I like the scent of the home-made detergent.  It has just a hint of lavender and smells oh-so-good.  I washed a ton of clothes in it Sunday.  I have super sensitive skin and break out in hives after using many laundry detergents.  This one is great for skin and allergies.  (If you have allergies and use a free and clear detergent, this is fine, but scenting probably isn't a good idea).  I'm never buying laundry detergent again!

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