Kitchen Chemistry!

Posted on November 13th, 2010

Welcome to the Lab Ratz Science Club’s “Kitchen Chemistry” guide, providing you with all the information you need to convert your home kitchen into full-fledged laboratory! Reproduce experiments from each week’s Lab Ratz Science Club meetings, change variables and compare results and find way to continue exploring topics at home. Take the information and ideas found here, combine with one or more creative young minds, apply the scientific method and let the discoveries begin – Identify the species of bacteria growing on those leftovers in the fridge, figure out which common condiments are chemically unstable, determine the maximum velocity that the family dog can obtain at dinnertime, maybe even unlock the secrets of cold fusion! The sky is truly the limit – And, maybe that is setting the bar too low. Maybe sub-orbital space is the limit. It’s up to you how far you can take it!
But, always remember, experiments are not edible, safety goggles are a must and while adult supervision is required, adult participation is encouraged!

Log in to Facebook and “Publish” the results of your experiments to our page so that they can be reviewed by your peers! And, we are always happy to answer questions and to hear comments and suggestions so, if you just can’t get your handmade electric motor to spin or you have an experiment idea that you would like to share, just click the “Contact Us” button and let us know what’s on your mind!

Experimental Topics

First Annual Lab Ratz Challenge!
Acids and Bases

Chemical Reactions
Sound and Sound Waves

Kitchen Chemistry: Shiny Happy Pennies


Check with an adult before beginning any experiment.


12 Tarnished (not shiny) Pennies

4 Cereal Bowls

1 spoon

Apple Juice

Lemon Juice

Dish Soap


Paper towels

1. You will fill the bowls with enough liquid to completely submerge a penny (1/4 cup will be enough).

Pour apple juice into one of the cereal bowls. Pour lemon juice into another bowl. Fill the 3rd bowl with water and add 3-5 drops of dish soap then stir with spoon. Fill the last bowl with water.

2. Place 3 tarnished pennies in each bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes

Make a hypothesis!

Will any of 4 liquids make the pennies look new and shiny? Write your guess (hypothesis) down and why you think each liquid will or will not make the penny look new again.

3. Using a spoon, remove the pennies and place on a paper towel next to the bowl. Rub dry with the paper towel.

Did any of the pennies become shiny? Which liquids made the penny shiny? Which liquids did not?

Was your hypothesis correct?

The pennies become dirty and tarnished by the oxygen in the air! This oxygen creates a reaction with the cooper called oxidation, and leaves the penny dirty and tarnished. The citric acid in liquid that cleaned the penny removes this dirty surface (removes the oxide). Can you think of any other liquids to try and design a new experiment?