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Deconstructing Macaroni Salad
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Deconstructing Macaroni Salad

                             

Credit: Janet Hudson
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/veganfeast/3925029162/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

A good chemistry course will teach you all about protons and electrons, atoms and molecules, elements and compounds, and all the building blocks that make up everything in the universe. Now, let’s test that understanding. What is the chemical composition of macaroni salad?

News You Can Use

  • Well, there isn’t exactly a simple answer to this question. Pure substances like table salt (Nacl) can be summed up by a simple chemical formula, but most of the things that we encounter on a daily basis are not pure substances. Macaroni salad is actually a complex mixture, containing thousands of different types of molecules. However, just because it is complex doesn’t mean that we can’t break it down and identify some of its individual parts.
  • Credit: Jerry Pank
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cookipedia/8539300214/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    There are many ways to make a macaroni salad. These are the ingredients for one recipe [Figure2]

     

  • Watch the following video, which takes a look at the various parts of a macaroni salad in terms of their chemical components:

http://ed.ted.com/lessons/the-science-of-macaroni-salad-what-s-in-a-mixture-josh-kurz

  • Chemically, the most complex ingredients are those that are derived from living things, such as vegetables and grains. Any living organisms, even single-celled life forms, contain thousands of different types of organic molecules in varying amounts.
  • Simple mixtures can be classified as solutions, colloids, or suspensions, depending on the sizes of the dispersed particles.

Show What You Know

With the links below, learn more about different types of mixtures. Then answer the following questions.

  1. Are solutions homogeneous or heterogeneous mixtures? What about suspensions?
  2. Would pulpy lemonade be a solution, a colloid, or a suspension? How can you tell?
  3. Clouds are mixtures of air and water. How would you decide whether to classify a cloud as a solution or a colloid?
  4. If you add sugar to a glass of water and stir, the sugar will dissolve, making a solution. Quite a lot of sugar can be dissolved in water, but eventually, the capacity of the water in the glass will be reached, and the solution will be saturated. If additional sugar is stirred into a saturated solution, how would the resulting mixture be classified?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Janet Hudson; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/veganfeast/3925029162/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Jerry Pank; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cookipedia/8539300214/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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