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Molecular Compounds

Naming and properties of compounds that form from two or more nonmetallic elements,

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Stinky Shoes

Stinky Shoes

Credit: 55Laney69
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hansel5569/8509512549
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Your feet sweat and it makes your shoes wet. Let your shoes stew in sweat for a few days, and what do you get? The answer is stinky shoes.

News You Can Use

  • Sweaty shoes get stinky because of mold and bacteria that thrive in the damp, dark interior. Drying sweaty shoes on a radiator may help reduce shoe moisture and the stinky shoe problem. But that may not be enough.
  • Another way to help dry out and deodorize sweaty shoes is shown in the wacky teen video below. However, this method may also fail to cure the problem. 


  • A better way to dry out sweaty shoes may be with little packets of silica gel, like the one pictured below. These packets often come in packaged goods, including boxes of new shoes.

License: CC BY-NC 3.0

  • What is silica gel, and why is it used to keep things dry? Silica gel consists of the molecular compound named silicon dioxide, or SiO2. This compound acts as a desiccant. A desiccant is a substance that can draw moisture out of the air around it.

What Do You Think?

Learn more about silica gel and desiccants at the links below. Then answer the questions that follow.

  1. Silica gel works by adsorption. What is adsorption? Does it cause a physical change or a chemical change?
  2. How much moisture can silica gel adsorb? Why is silica gel such a good desiccant?
  3. Why do you think such small beads of silica gel are used in desiccant packets? Why not use larger beads or even one big chunk of silica gel? (Hint: The answer has to do with surface area.)
  4. When silica gel has adsorbed all the moisture it can hold, can it be reused? If you answer yes, explain how it can be reused.
  5. Do you think silica gel would be good to add to cat litter? Why or why not?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: 55Laney69; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hansel5569/8509512549; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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