It's amazing what happens to simple packing peanuts when they come in contact with the solvent acetone. They vanish like magic! Well kinda, what really happens is the Styrofoam reacts with the solvent illustrating that Styrofoam is made from styrene molecules loaded with air pockets. When the reaction takes place we have vanishing Styrofoam or more accurately dissolving Styrofoam. Lets do the Vanishing Styrofoam Experiment.
Materials - Styrofoam Packing Peanuts - Styrofoam cups. - Glass Bowl - Acetone Solvent (adult supervision recommended and keep away from flames as Acetone is flamable). - Spoon
Watch Video: Vanishing Styrofoam Experiment
Procedure Vanishing Styrofoam Experiment:
1) Pour your bottle of Acetone into the glass bowl.
2) Take one of two Styrofoam packing peanuts and add them to the bowl.
3) Watch as the packing peanuts vanish before your eyes. Actually they are dissolving before your eyes.
4) Now lets try more. Take a handful this time and add to the bowl. Use the spoon to give things a quick stir.
The Science Behind Vanishing Styrofoam Experiment: Solvents such as acetone can be used to illustrate that polystyrene packaging materials contain mostly air. The solvent / acetone makes short work of dissolving the polystyrene body. As that dissolves quickly the air pockets inside vanish leaving almost nothing of the original Styrofoam. Notice that only a small amount of residue remains. The Styrofoam peanuts are dissolving (not melting) in the acetone solvent. We would need a heat source to melt them. Now go grab some friends and try the Vanishing Styrofoam Experiment.