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I want to teach science, but I don’t want to deal with chemicals

September 08, 2015 2 min read

CAUTION DANGEROUS CHEMICALS is a phrase that doesn't exactly inspire you to do science at home. Learn how to get over the chemical hurdle and get started with the science fun!

CAUTION – Dangerous chemicals!

Wear protective eye-wear.

Make sure you have no exposed skin.

Do not breathe in any fumes.

Work only in a well-ventilated area.

All that really makes you want to get going on that experiment, doesn’t it?

Um . . . not so much . . . Dealing with chemicals is another one of those deal-breakers for many when it comes to teaching science at home.

And I get it, you don’t want to create a toxic wasteland of your kitchen before it is time to make dinner.

Today, I am going to share with you all some of my favorite everyday household substitutes for those dangerous chemicals you want to avoid! In hopes that you can use these tips to jump over the hurdle of dealing with chemicals and get onto the fun of teaching science!

Just in case you missed it, here is a look back at what we have covered so far in this series:

Let’s dig in . . .

I want to teach science, but I don’t want to deal with chemicals

When I say the word scientist, what comes to mind?

It’s a picture of someone in a lab with goggles, who is surrounded by bubbling beakers, right? No? Well, work with me on this.

Many see science as that subject to avoid teaching at home because of the chemicals you have to use. But the good news is that this is not always the case!

You can extract DNA and do chromatography with the rubbing alcohol you have in your medicine cabinet.

You can find several options for acids, bases, and pH indicators in your fridge.

And you can form your own crystals with supplies from your laundry room!

Kitchen substitutes

You already have chemicals sitting on your pantry shelf and many of these are weaker, and a bit safer, than their lab counterparts. (Note – Please do still use caution when using these substitutions because they are still chemicals and you need to be safe.)

  • Acids – Lemon juice, soda, and vinegar
  • Bases – Baking soda, ammonia, and bleach
  • Indicator – Cranberry juice or red cabbage juice
  • Crystals – Salt, sugar, or borax
  • Non-Newtonian fluid – Cornstarch and water
  • Battery – Lemon or potato

You can even make your own polymers by mixing Borax, water, and glue!

Wrapping it Up

I trust that these substitutions will help you get over the dealing with chemicals hurdle. There are lots of ways you can raid your kitchen for science!

Want a year’s worth of weekly experiments using stuff you probably already have around your house all wrapped up in one easy-to-use package for you to do at home? Here you go.

This article was written by our author, Paige Hudson. If you want to receive more articles just like this straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter in the box below or click here.


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