The Difference Between Baking Powder and Baking Soda

What is Baking soda and baking powder?
Before knowing what kind of functions baking soda and baking powder perform, let us first know what they are. Baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents. When they are added to food products they release carbon dioxide in order for the food item to rise. They are two different chemicals used for baking. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.

Baking powder is sodium bicarbonate and potassium bitartrate. Baking powder is not a pure form of sodium bicarbonate. Hence if you are substituting baking soda then you will have to add twice the actual amount suggested as baking powder is a milder version.

The history of baking soda and baking powder
The ancient Egyptians used natural deposits of natron, a natural mixture of sodium carbonate decahydrate, and sodium bicarbonate as soap. In 1791, famous French chemist Nicolas Leblanc produced sodium bicarbonate also called as the soda ash. This discovery was refined by Alfred Bird. He discovered the modern variants baking powder and baking soda in 1843.

Later in 1846, two New York bakers, John Dwight and Austin Church started a factory that developed baking soda from sodium bicarbonate and carbon dioxide.

In later years, it was found that this product can also be used for cleaning utensils, extinguishing fire and many such essential works.

The functions of baking soda and baking powder
In school, you must have done many experiments where you mix sodium bicarbonate which is a base and vinegar which is an acid to get a bubbling reaction. Baking soda and baking powder work on similar basis. When you add water to baking powder or baking soda, the dry acid and the base go into a reaction and start producing carbon dioxide bubbles.

When baking soda or baking powder is combined with a moist substance like a cake mix, it results in a chemical reaction and bubbles of carbon dioxide expand under the oven temperature and the product starts rising.

Remember, although the functions of both baking soda and baking powder are somewhat similar, they still have a difference. Hence recipes that suggest baking powder to be used, it is better to use baking powder and not baking soda. However in recipes where you have to use baking soda, you can substitute it with baking powder as the baking powder is a milder version and will not harm you in any way. But this may not be the case with baking soda.

So, the next time you nibble on a cake or a muffin do not forget the difference between baking soda and baking powder.

How to get rid of garlic’s pungent smell?

Everyone relishes garlic bread but even one bite later you realize that not just your mouth but even your sweat smells funny!  In fact, even our burps emit a foul smell after we consume garlic in our food. Why is it that in spite of using so much of deodorant our body emits a foul smell especially when we consume garlic! Let us find out why this happens…

The cause of foul smell
Garlic is made up of sulphuric compoundsthat render the pungent smell to it. Also, when we put garlic in our mouth, it encourages the growth of certain bacteria that is already present in our mouth. This leads to bad breath.

Garlic contains allyl methyl sulphide, which is the reason for the pungent smell. It passes into our blood stream during the digestion process. Once it is in our body, it gets to the pores of our skin and when we sweat, it gets expelled and causes the sweat to smell. The allyl methyl sulphide also enters our lungs and contaminates the air inside. As we breathe, the air enters our lungs, gets contaminated and comes out as we exhale. This is why our breath smells.

The effect of this chemical lasts for few hours but the bad breath and body odour will continue till it is completely thrown out of our system by way of sweat or excreta.

How to get rid of the smell
Brush your teeth and wash your mouth with a good mouthwash to kill the triggered bacteria that adds to the foul smell.

Have a good shower to wash off the stinky sweat.

Dab your skin with some good smelling powder or deodorant to keep the smell away.
Research has shown that drinking milk helps bring down the effect of garlic in our blood stream and thus reduces the odour from reaching the lungs.

Another way to reduce the effect of garlic is to have parsley and sprigs. This is the reason why parsley and sprigs are combined with garlic in many of the exotic food preparations.

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, it is always better to stay away from garlic if you do not wish to smell “garlicky”. Or else the next time, you decide to have anything garlicky, be prepared to drink milk to bring down the effect of the same.

The Importance Of Calcium To Teeth

Each one of us has grown up listening to our mother’s telling us about the benefits of milk. When one talks of milk, the first thing it gets associated with is calcium. Milk is considered as an essential source of calcium. But is calcium really important to our body and especially our teeth?

Calcium deficiency does lead to dental and bone problems. Very few of us are aware that teeth are also bones. About one third of our bones and teeth are made of calcium. That is why drinking milk is important because you need the calcium from the milk to grow and maintain your bones and teeth.

Calcium is a vital mineral that our body requires on a daily basis. However, our body cannot produce this nutrient on its own. So, it relies on the food that we eat. Calcium is important for the functioning of the nerves, muscle contractions, which includes our heartbeat, and for cell division. The cells of our body that carry nerve impulses also need this essential nutrient. Calcium also acts as an enzyme activator in our body.

Calcium is important for the entire skeleton including our jawbone. It strengthens our jawbones and makes our gums healthy. Calcium rich body prevents tooth decay and it definitely helps in providing a great smile that can be considered as the biggest asset in our life.

Milk and dairy products are natural and the most concentrated source of calcium. Only during our developmental ages, calcium gets deposited on our bones and teeth. Once the development is done, the deposition stops. Hence it is necessary to get enough calcium through our diet in the early years of our life. If teeth are deprived of calcium they start showing signs of cavities and we end up with dental carries.

So, next time your mother scolds you for not having your routine cup of milk, take her words seriously and ensure that your body gets its usual quota of calcium.

Lubricants from vegetable oil

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB have engineered a chemical-enzymatic process that now enables vegetable oil-based production, at lower temperatures and under more environmentally-friendly conditions.

Epoxides are highly reactive organic compounds comprised of a triple ring with two carbon atoms and one oxygen atom. Among other things, the chemicals industry uses them for the production of lubricants for vehicles and engines, as well as surfactants and emulsifiers for detergents and cleansers. Until now, epoxides have been based primarily on source materials procured from petroleum.

The Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP in Leuna has made this technology ready for industrial application. Starting October 2012, the findings obtained in the laboratory will be scaled up to an even larger volume. Quantities of up to 100 liters will be possible at the new center. That corresponds to a 70 kilogram-batch of epoxides. In the laboratory this reaction yielded batches only in the grams range. The 14 partners in the “Integrated BioProduction” project will be working until April 2014 on engineering a process for procuring epoxides, made from domestic vegetable oils, for industry use.

The “Integrated BioProduction” project
The project “Integrated BioProduction” is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection BMELV. The spotlight of the research activities is on increasing the use of sustainable raw materials – primarily domestic plant-based oils – for production of synthetic components for the chemical industry. In the first phase, which ends April 2012, the researchers selected and evaluated relevant plant oils, developed and tested chemical and biotechnological conversion processes on the laboratory scale, and identified suitable catalysts. In the second phase, scheduled until 2014, the focus shifts to optimization and the adjusting selected processes to a scale that is relevant to industry; here, the Fraunhofer Center CBP acts as the interface.

Using by-products from the food industry
The foods that are suitable for epoxides production include, for example, the oils of mustard seed, elder seed, crambe (Abyssinian cabbage) and dragonhead. To some extent, these oils emerge from food production as by-products, but are not themselves used as food. The epoxide is procured in Leuna from fluid oils, or fatty acids as well, with the aid of chemical-enzymatic epoxidation. In contrast to the established, pure chemical variety, the enzyme lipase here catalyzes peracid, the epoxidation medium. The main benefits are that the enzyme is easier and more efficient to handle.

“Even if the petrochemical process can never be completely replaced – the potential for sustainable raw materials in the chemicals industry is immense. In 2009, roughly 14 million tons of vegetable oil was used for chemical-technical products, compared to about 400 million tons of mineral oil in the same year. To reduce the dependence on petroleum and carve out potential savings in CO2 equivalents, the industry needs ultramodern biorefineries. 

Calcium Hypochlorite: Better than Bleach?

Calcium hypochlorite (also known as hypochlorous acid, calcium salt and chlorinated lime the formula Ca(ClO)2)  is a chemical compound, similar to bleach, that is often used in water treatment processes. Let’s find what are the secrets behind this compound.

As an ionic compound, calcium hypochlorite’s calcium atom has lost the two valence electrons in its outermost shell, while each of the hypochlorite ions has gained an electron. The opposite charges on hypochlorite ions and calcium ions create an attraction between them when they are in the solid form. When the calcium hypochlorite dissolves in water, however, interactions with water molecules take the place of interactions between ions and the ions dissociate or drift apart as the solid dissolves in the water.

Calcium hypochlorite is one of the best chemical disinfectants for water, better than household bleach by far. It destroys a variety of disease causing organisms including bacteria, yeast, fungus, spores, and viruses.

Calcium Hypochlorite is widely available for use as swimming pool chlorine tablets or white powder that is much more stable than chlorine. This is often known as “pool shock”.

Calcium hypochlorite acts as a weak base, meaning that the hypochlorite ions can pick up hydrogen ions from the water to become hypochlorous acid (HClO). Because pH is the negative log of the hydrogen ion concentration in water, the hypochlorite ions decrease the hydrogen ion concentration, thereby increasing the pH. Calcium hypochlorite is similar in this regard to sodium hypochlorite, the active ingredient in chlorine bleach. However, sodium hypochlorite has one hypochlorite ion while calcium hypochlorite has two.

Hypochlorous acid is highly toxic to bacteria, so when chlorinating pools or treating water, it’s generally best to adjust the pH so hypochlorous acid will predominate in the solution rather than the hypochlorite ion. As the pH decreases, more of the hypochlorite ions pick up protons to become hypochlorous acid. However, in an alkaline solution, less hypochlorous acid will be present. If the water becomes too acidic, however, it will be unfit for swimmers, so pool operators generally try to maintain pH at a slightly alkaline level to ensure an optimum concentration of hypochlorous acid without any of the problems associated with acidity.

The Art Behinds Mehndi

In India, almost any celebration is incomplete without mehndi. A Mehndi ceremony is a must-have of a festival, marriage or any auspicious occasion. Talking about the art, let us first get to know what exactly this mehndi is and how does it get a distinct colour.

What is Mehndi?
Mehndi or henna is prepared from the leaves of henna tree. This tree grows in hot and humid climate conditions. Mehndi is prepared by drying and grinding henna leaves and stems into a smooth powder.

How does it get a distinct colour?
Mehndi contains a strong pigment known as lawsone. Lawsone has a tendency of temporarily staining our skin. It gets absorbed in porous surfaces like skin and hair. The dye sinks into the uppermost layer of dead and soon to be dead skin. Due to natural exfoliation, our skin starts flaking and fresh skin replaces the old one and the colour of Mehndi also fades with the old skin.

History of Mehndi
The art of applying Mehndi is a very old custom originated from 12th century A.D. It was used by rich and royal people to decorate their bodies. It was also an art practiced by Egyptians who used to stain the fingers and toes of the Pharaohs with henna before mummification. The Egyptians believed that this body art helped in recognition into afterlife and hence used Mehndi as an identification mark.

How does the Mehndi turn dark for some?
The longer you keep, the darker the colour gets. It is because the longer the paste stays in contact with your skin; the more it tends to get absorbed. Also, it gets easily absorbed in those with rough and coarse skin as against those with soft skin.

Most Mehndi artists add extra hennotannic acid (also known as 2-Hydroxy-p-naphthoquinone and the CAS number is 83-72-7) to the already “tannin” Mehndi paste to help you get a darker shade. Hennotannic acid is found in most essential oils like tea tree oil, clove bud, lavender and eucalyptus oil. Also, according to the Mehndi artists, minimal contact of the Mehndi with water will make it last longer.

So, the next time there is any kind of celebration coming your way and you will apply Mehndi, you’ll know exactly what kind of chemistry is at work!

Polyacrylamide: Just The Uses

Soil hydration has been an agricultural challenge for thousands of years. If you’ve had anything to do with irrigated agriculture in the past couple years, you’ve probably heard about Polyacrylamide(PAM). The next couple pages highlight some of the important points about this new “miracle product” for erosion control and water management.

Polyacrylamide is a polymer that is formed from units of acrylamide, a known neurotoxin. However, Polyacrylamide itself is not considered to be toxic, but is a controversial ingredient because of its potential ability to secrete Acrylamide, according to Wikipedia.

In Agriculture
To date, the primary market for this compound has been municipal wastewater treatment facilities. PAM seeks out and binds to the broken edges of clay particles, which carry a negative charge. By increasing the cohesiveness of soil particles on the soil surface of a field, PAM makes soil more resistant to the highly erosive shear forces exerted by water flowing over it. It makes the fine solids in treated water adhere to one another until they become big enough to settle out or be captured by filters to make sewage sludge, and because of this feature, its use in agriculture is growing.

The greater infiltration associated with PAM-treated furrows can boost crop yields in sloping areas such that it’s almost like giving the farmer the added yield equivalent of another irrigation during the growing season. Studies have shown that because Polyacrylamide holds the top soil in place, it also keeps phosphorus, nitrogen, pesticides, weed seeds, and microorganism out of waste water.

In Cosmetics
It is also used in cosmetics and beauty products in two different forms, either as a soft gel in its cross-linked form, which has highly water-absorbent properties, or in its straight-chain form, as a thickener and suspending agent. It has also been used recently as an active ingredient in the subdermal wrinkle filler, Aquamid.

PAM is an ingredient in a variety of cosmetic and beauty products. Small beads may also be used in skin cleansing products as an abrasive. It dries to form a thin coating on the skin, hair, or nails; in hair care products, it helps hair hold its style by inhibiting the hair’s ability to absorb moisture; in makeup, it holds together the ingredients of a compressed tablet or cake; in sunscreen products, it aids in retaining sunscreen on the skin after immersion in water. 

Information On Barium Sulfate

Barium sulfate (BaSO4), a white or yellowish odourless powder, is the barium salt of sulfuric acid. The name comes from the Greek word for heavy = barys, which indicates the element’s high atomic weight. It is very insoluble in water but soluble in concentrated sulphuric acid, forming an acid sulphate dilution. Due to its extremely low water solubility, barium sulfate, as compared to other barium compounds, is non-toxic.

The mineral Barite, which is composed largely of barium sulphate, is a common ore of barium. Barium has a green color in a flame test which is used to separate barite from other minerals. Stones made from impure barium sulphate, the natural impurities, can be ferric oxide or silicon dioxide for example, and glow when exposed to light, the phenomenon is called phosphorescence.

In nature, barium sulfate is found as crystals which due to their high density are referred to as barite (heavy spar). Considerably larger deposits are found in China which, in addition, ranks first in barium sulfate mining. The naturally occurring type of barium sulfate is used most commonly. For applications that require very pure white colors, barium sulfate is obtained by precipitation as “blanc-fixe” (permanent white).

Barium sulphate is used as fillers for plastics, paint, rubber and resins. It increases the plasticity and weight of plastic materials that are used for sound insulation in e.g., car mats, carpet coatings, or plastic sewage pipes. The chemical inertness and high temperature stability of barium sulfate are made use of in friction linings.

It can also be found in photographic papers and is used as a pigment. Together with zinc oxide it is known as a white pigment called Lithophone and another white pigment is called Blanc fixe. Blanc fixe has except barium sulphate also sodium sulphate as a component, but pure precipitated barium sulphate is also called Blanc fixe.

Barium sulphate precipitated improves the volume and consistency, viscosity and workability of e.g., fillers, surfacers, and primers. Blanc-fixe is added for easy glazing of glossy papers and photographic papers (barite papers). Burning of such papers leaves whitish barium sulfate deposits. In the textile industry, barium sulfate is found as a finish for linen goods and an agent for rayon matting during etching and printing.

Due to its high coefficient of absorption for gamma radiation and X-radiation, barium sulfate is used in concrete (barite concrete, barite cement) that screens nuclear reactors. It is contained, in addition, in numerous radio-opaque substances (radio-opaque barite).

The Secrets Behind Mercury Toxicity

 With all the news about the danger of mercury emissions, I decided it was time to understand how mercury works in our bodies. Now I know how this element works in body and wahy our young are so vulnerable to it.

Mercury changes forms. It has different costumes. It ducks into phone booths as organic, and comes out as inorganic, and then darts into a dark cell to do its damage leaving someone else’s fingerprints. Mystery. It did take scientists a long time to determine how mercury changes faces so fast. Each form attacks a different aspect of the cell membrane, or your DNA or your enzymes.

Methyl mercury is oxidized into the “ionic” form of mercury. This is a very destructive form of mercury. (Its problem is that it cannot travel very far.) The compound is the most dangerous form due to its ability to travel great distances and enter all cells. It is absorbed by shellfish and fish, through their gills; it is dispersed by their blood through their bodies, and accumulates in their fatty tissue. The contaminated fish is eaten by other fish, and birds and mammals–including humans. The biggest source of mercury exposure in humans comes from eating fish and shellfish.

Once eaten, mercury goes directly into the highest lipid-containing organs in our bodies–including breasts and brains. Breast milk, which is packed with nutrients and high in lipid content, can contain mercury.

Absorption of mercury from the area under your tongue and the insides of your cheeks are the fastest absorption. These areas, of course, are in close proximity to the mercury fillings, so efficiency of absorption is great. From the blood stream, mercury can travel to any cell in the body, where it can either disable or destroy the tissues. Mercury can also travel directly from the fillings into the lungs, into the blood stream and, as before described, every cell in the body becomes a valid target.

All of this travel and destruction is what defines mercury toxicity. It may favor nerve tissue for a destruction target, but the kidney is high up on its list of tissues to destroy. After these two areas, it can wreak havoc in any tissue that might get in its way. For this reason, it is difficult to devise a change in the normal chemistry of the body, called a test, which would “prove” mercury (the CAS number is 7439-97-6)toxicity. It can alter almost anything in the body; therefore, mercury should not be allowed to enter for any reason.

Once in our bodies, mercury stays there for many months, and most people have some amount of mercury in their tissues at all times. Its exposure at high levels can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system of people of all ages.

How to Perm Hair?

Chemically processing hair requires the breakdown and restructuring of the hair into a state different than its natural one. Relaxers permanently straighten the hair using chemicals. Perms (short for “permanent waves”) chemically curl the hair permanently. Sometimes people incorrectly refer to hair relaxers as perms, but these are two different processes that achieve different results.

Perms are a thioglycolate-based chemical product. This means they can only be processed with another thioglycolate-based product. If a perm were to be applied to hair that was previously relaxed using lye or any other non-thioglycolate relaxer, the hair would begin to break off and come out every time it was washed or combed. The two different chemical processes will break down the hair structure so severely that the hair will break off or fall out even with gentle handling. However, if a thioglycolate-based relaxer was previously applied to the hair, a perm can be applied. This should only be done by a licensed hair stylist who is trained in such processes or applications. Be advised that the previously relaxed hair may need to be cut during processing, as it may become dry, brittle and prone to breakage.

Chemical Relaxers
Chemical relaxers come in various chemical formulas, which include sodium hydroxide (lye), guanidine carbonate, calcium hydroxide, ammonium bisulfite and a thioglycolate-based variety. Most relaxers found at mass retail are no-lye formulas using guanidine carbonate, calcium hydroxide or ammonium thioglycolate. If you have previously relaxed your hair with a lye-based, guanidine carbonate or calcium-hydroxide-based relaxer you can alternate formulas when it comes time for your retouch, which is four to six weeks after you last relaxed your hair. However, thioglycolate-based relaxers cannot be used on hair that was previously relaxed with any of these other types of relaxers. Thioglycolate-based relaxers can only be used with another thioglycolate-based product. Ammonium bisulfite (the CAS number is 10192-30-0) relaxers are very common in mass beauty-supply retail stores; however, they are labeled “for salon use only,” meaning they should only be processed by a licensed stylist.

Perming Frequency
If you perm hair that has been previously relaxed with a thioglycolate-based relaxer, the process is only performed once. Any perm touch-ups will be done on the new growth between the scalp and the previously permed hair. If any of the previously relaxed hair remains beneath your perm, it will be cut off, because it now represents damaged ends that will break.