What To Do If You Have Excess Hydrochloric Acid, Calcium Carbonate, and a Spare Toilet

Today marked the beginning of the second week of school, or in other words, the second week of hell. It is the first semester of senior year, after all. Well, to be totally honest, it’s been a walk in the park so far, and I’m not the type who usually slacks off. I’m a good student, I like my teachers (and I assume that most of them like me back. I hope that the relationship isn’t too one-sided), and I’ve set high goals for myself. But seeing as I’ve done most of my college work over the summer, I have plenty of time right now (or at least a few weeks) to play. This weekend I watched The City, which is a GREAT show (no sarcasm) and Jimmy Kimmel.

Anyway, so last year, IB Chemistry HL (higher level) was the death of me. I expected another full year of the same hell walking into class last week. However, I found myself to be totally wrong. Two classes ago, we were supposed to do a lab that revolved around the neutralization of acids and bases. I’ve done like a million similar labs (well, maybe 20 at most), so I got all the materials, put on my lab goggles, and got to work.

Hee hee.

We quickly finished the experiment (conclusion: acids and bases neutralize) and decided to have some fun with our excess hydrochloric acid and calcium carbonate. We noticed that the substances created nice, rich colors when we mixed them together, so we quickly set off on a quest to see how many different colors we could make (conclusion: quite a lot). We also discovered that if you mix orange and purple and universal indicator (a liquid that indicates whether something is acidic or basic), a nice royal blue forms (not “crap” colored like I had originally anticipated). Among our favorite mixtures included dark purple, light lavender purple, deep ocean blue, and puke (my personal favorite).

Once our little tray had overflowed, we decided to clean up. I realized that if you squirt a lot (two or three squirts should suffice) of cheap school soap into the sink, you can create your very own BUBBLE BATH. Of course, I didn’t expect to bathe myself in the sink, the bubbles served more as a form of personal entertainment. Plus, it smelled good. Stephanie, Judy, and I were laughing pretty hard by this time – I assume our chemistry teacher (who is the epitome of the “absent-minded professor”) interpreted our shrieks of mirth as genuine love and fascination for chemistry. Anyway, once we realized the TRUE uses of hydrochloric acid and calcium carbonate (i.e. creating toxic colors that will burn holes in your clothes and form painful blisters on your skin), we decided to take a few test tubes of the substances along with a mini-bottle of universal indicator and continue our little experiment in the bathroom. After all, where better to find excess water ideal for experimentation than the toilet?

We gleefully dumped the acid into the toilet and clapped delightedly as it turned a deep blue. It spread beautifully, like swirling ink in the clear water (I realize that I am using such poetic language to describe a toilet). We carefully added universal indicator into the bowl and watched the water turn a pale blue. We deliberated for a while over whether or not we were actually going to flush the toilet. Either we would A) leave the water in the toilet and let the next occupant assume it was that blue toilet bowl cleansing water OR B) flush it and erase all signs of our activity.

We went with A).

Stephanie and I relayed our experiment back to each other happily once we were back in the classroom. Our conversation went a little something like this:

“HAHA, what if we managed to make RED toilet water? Imagine if someone went in, looked down, and thought it was BLOOD?”

“HAHAHA”

“HAHA, what if someone CRAPPED in there and then suddenly heard a sizzling sound from the acid?”

“HAHAHAHA”

“What if we get expelled?”

*silence*

“Maybe we should flush the toilet.”

 “Yeah. Maybe we should.”

We ended up going back and flushing the toilet.

It was an excellent experiment, though. I realize that we’re not technically supposed to mix dangerous chemicals together without teacher supervision (psh) or pour unidentified substances in the school toilet (pshaw) or make bubble baths in the sink (hee hee), but it all turned out well. I finally figured out what chemistry was all about. Not structured, boring experiments, but SPONTANEOUS experiments. If it ends up in an explosion, then you know that something went wrong.

The next class, we stole a bunch of litmus paper and decided to test out different liquids. Among the liquids we tested were:

1. My drinking water

2. Sink water

3. Judy’s spit

4. My spit

5. Toilet water

Results:

1. Drinking water – neutral (thank God)

2. Sink water – slightly basic (don’t know what that means)

3. Judy’s spit – slightly basic (which means her spit is the same as sink water)

4. My spit – slightly acidic (though that may be because I was chewing coffee gum) and finally,

5. Toilet water – slightly, slightly basic. Almost neutral (which was disappointing. I had expected the litmus paper to melt away, or at the very least, sizzle. But no sizzling occurred).

What I learned from these experiments:

The toilet is a GREAT place to conduct experiments. There’s all the water you could ever need, and if you mess up, all you have to do is flush and you’re left with a clean slate! I know it might not be the most sanitary thing to do, playing in toilet water, but you don’t actually have to TOUCH it. As long as you keep your hands out of it, it’s actually a perfectly clean thing to do (okay, maybe not). Just be sure to wash your hands afterwards (I now realize that I don’t think we did).

In the past week, I have gone from a chemistry student to a full-fledged CHEMIST. I learned that acids + base + universal indicator + normal indicator = COLORS. Plus, I learned that Judy’s spit is essentially the same as sink water. So don’t go around saying that tap water is unsanitary – if you do, you’re also saying that Judy’s mouth is a haven for germs and lead-poisoning.

I realize that this all sounds nerdy and you may not understand it, but trust me, neither do I. All I understand is that if you mix everything together, miracles happen.

Although we had plenty of fun, I suppose I wouldn’t necessarily advise everyone to conduct the same experiments at school. Not everyone is as experienced and wise as we are. We wouldn’t want anyone’s face blowing up or hair falling out, now would we?

Though on second thought, it might be funny. Cheers.

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