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Food For Thought

Remember those vinegar and baking soda volcanoes, and the membrane from inside an egg shell that allowed ink to pass through one way while keeping the water from passing through the other way? Those, and a few other more dramatic demonstrations were meant to convince us that science was cool. Well, it is, and I have continued conducting experiments well into my adult years. Most of them have had to do with eggs, vinegar, or both. Not all of them produced the expected results, some of them were done to entertain my children and grandchildren.
The soft-shelled egg: Place a raw egg (shell on) in a small bowl deep enough to allow you to cover the egg completely. Fill the bowl with vinegar. Twice a day, check the egg by picking it up with your fingers. After a few days, the egg will feel like a water-balloon– soft and rubbery. This is because the vinegar has leached all the calcium from the egg’s shell. I have no idea what to do with this soft egg, so see no reason to do this experiment. Throw the egg away.
Knot a chicken bone: I have read that vinegar will soften a small chicken bone so that it can be tied in a knot. The bone must be a raw bone, however, as a cooked one has been permanently set. Choose a long, thin bone, such as from a wishbone or wing-tip. Soak it in vinegar until it is soft enough to bend easily without breaking. Tie the bone in a knot. I see no reason to tie a chicken bone in a knot, so haven’t personally conducted this experiment. The accidental ones seem to have been the most interesting. Here are two of them:
Disappearing egg: I have performed this experiment only once, so don’t know if the results will be the same every time. Break an egg onto a lightly oiled saucer and put it in the microwave on high heat until you hear a loud popping noise. Open the microwave and look for the egg. In some instances, it will be found stuck to the ceiling of the microwave.
Egg-grenade: This experiment is rather dramatic, so it is a good idea to have witnesses, as you may never want to do a repeat performance. Put a raw egg or two into a heavy, two-quart pan and fill the pan with water up to an inch from the brim. Place the pan, uncovered, over high heat and leave the room. You may wish to occupy yourself with browsing the Internet, reading a good book, or sorting laundry. Do not go beyond hearing distance from the kitchen. For safety sake, it is best not to remain within 15 feet of the boiling pan. After an undetermined length of time, you will hear a muffled explosion. If you have put only one egg in the pan, you may turn off the stove and remove the empty pan to a safe place to cool. If more than one egg, wait until all have exploded before entering the kitchen. Assess the damage. You will likely find that the explosion has resulted in shell fragments, rubbery egg white and dry, grainy yolk being strewn over a radius of twelve to fifteen feet. Pieces of egg will be found on top of the refrigerator, nearby window sills, the exhaust fan hood, behind the toaster and other counter-top appliances, as well as on the floor and walls of the kitchen. You will note a surprising absence of that sulfur smell we usually associate with over-cooked eggs, as well as the greenish tinge around the yolk. This is the most mysterious aspect of the experiment. You will probably want to throw the pan away.
I have tried other, less dramatic experiments using vinegar alone. While not as spectacular as those involving eggs, some of them have shown useful results and I find myself repeating them from time to time.
Shower de-soaping: With water that contains a certain amount of iron, I have learned that rust stains accumulate on the shower walls. This rust seems to be embedded in a layer of soap scum that is difficult to remove. I learned that scrubbing the shower walls with a scrub brush dipped in straight vinegar easily removes the soap scum, and the rust stains along with it. Rinse well with water.
Germicide-deodorant: Dr. Oz recommended the use of cider vinegar as a germ-killer and deodorant for those who cannot use conventional deodorants. Vinegar, once the odor of the vinegar has dissipated, is an effective deodorant. I find it also kills fungus and molds on hard surfaces, and is a safe treatment for nail fungus. Most nail fungus affects toenails, they become thick and punky, and my doctor once explained that prescription medications for nail fungus have dangerous side-effects. I found that soaking 15 minutes daily in a strong vinegar-water solution, will eventually eliminate the fungus.