New in the Maker Shed: Edible Chemistry Kit

When I was little, I used to dump all kinds of ingredients from our kitchen into a measuring cup and tell my mom I was a scientist. I came up with some weird stuff and I’m pretty sure some of it is still stuck to the ceiling in our old house. This new Edible Chemistry Kit (available in the Maker Shed) will let you (and your kids) experience the excitement of being a scientist in a tasty, fun, and safe way. The kit includes plenty of ingredients and detailed instructions on how to make color changing soda, polymer pudding, foaming jelly, and several other experiments. You’ll learn all about acids, bases, solutions, formulas, reactions, carbonation, indicators, pigments, gels, and polymers in the best possible way; by using your mouth!

Also, for non-edible fun check out our Glowing Putty – Gels and Slime Kit!

DIY Magnetic Ink

Catarina Mota and Nick Vermeer experimented with magnetic ink:

I used to buy magnetic paint, but I wasn’t very happy with its strength, consistency and color, so Nick Vermeer and I decided to make our own. More often than not, things turn out to be more complicated than they appear, but in this case it was the other way around! Nick sourced fine magnetite powder and we then experimented with several media. The one that seemed to offer the best combination of strength, appearance and consistency was the glossy acrylic medium.

9 Volt Battery & Coca Cola Titanium Anodizer

NYC Resistor’s Herb “POTUS31” Hoover experimented with a titanium anodizer project that uses daisy-chained 9V batteries and a sponge soaked in Coke.

I’ve been wanting to anodize titanium and use the laser to create masks for the different colors. Translucent oxides form on titanium with heat or voltage. (I also tried lasering colors into niobium, which oxidizes similarly to titanium, but didn’t find the color band with the CO2 beam — just grey/black.) With both niobium and titanium, each volt corresponds to a thickness of oxide and refraction of a color. If you start at the highest voltage and work your way down to the lowest voltage for the colors you choose, theoretically, you can strip off the protective tape mask after each color is obtained and the thicker oxides (higher voltages) will be unaffected by lower voltage oxide layers. In essence, when anodizing with a tape mask, you are using a reductive method of printmaking like linoleum block printing, only the ink is an oxide layer. DC voltage is applied to the surface of the titanium/niobium with a sponge clipped into an electrode. The ideal electrolyte to complete the circuit is phosphoric acid, so you wet the sponge with cola, or a solution of TSP, Cafiza, or Miracle-Gro. Two factors determine the oxide layer thickness: Voltage and time. If you vary the speed of your sponge with the electrolyte across the titanium, you’ll get a variety of colors due to incomplete oxidation at and below that voltage. It’s also possible to make a gradient by starting slowly and speeding up as you sponge across the metal.

Engineer Guy vs. The Lead-Acid Battery

Here, friends and neighbors, is the eighth and final video of Engineer Guy series #4. The element of the week is called plumbum in Latin, abbreviated to Pb on the periodic table, and generally known as lead. Formed into electrodes with its oxide and submerged in sulfuric acid, lead is an essential component in the ignition batteries that start cars and other gas-powered vehicles.

Though the lead-acid cell dates to the mid-19th century, and in spite of lead’s density and toxicity, this technology remains a keystone of modern industrial society, and may well continue in that role for a long time. Bill and company explain this anachronism, and lots more, with all their usual flair. [Thanks, Bill!]

Ferrofluid + Watercolor

I’d call this a very successful experiment from photographer Fabian Oefner. Must’ve been quite a eureka when he first discovered this process, which he calls Millefiori, after the decorative glass-fusing technique that produces similar patterns. Don’t miss the short making-of video here that shows off what it looks like in action.

It’s Nice That : Fabian Oefner blows our mind with these spectacular watercolour and ferrofluid photographs


Time to Bone up on the Chemistry of Fireworks In honor of Independence Day in the United States, here’s John A. Conkling, adjunct professor and fireworks expert to show us the chemistry behind fireworks. Watch this video and learn the science so that you can impress all your friends and family tonight with your incredible knowledge. [via Adafruit]