making this delicious looking cream sauce, and at the end he added several pats of butter. “Butter makes
everything better,” he said, as his concoction blended together perfectly. Sometime later I sat down at the table with my mom, and a cup of hot apple cider...and I remembered the chef’s assertion about butter. I can’t quite remember the face my mother made as I attempted to stir butter into my hot cider, but I do remember the result—greasy, yellow orbs floating menacingly in the pale brown liquid. Apparently, butter doesn’t make EVERYTHING better!
So why could the chef make a perfect sauce with butter, while my apple cider wound up a disaster?
The difference is caused by solubility.
butter to simply float around in the cider without dissolving.
There is also a more complex explanation for this, which is polarity versus non-polarity. To understand what makes a molecule polar or non-polar, we have to look at what happens when the atoms (the most basic building blocks) that make this molecule bond with each other.
other. All the carbon atoms in this chain have the same attraction for the electrons, and so all share them equally. As a result, no one atom has extra charge, and the molecule is non-polar. Because of this non-polarity, these molecules will dissolve other non-polar molecules, like the ones found in butter. On the other hand, these molecules will not blend with polar molecules like water.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Four clear drinking glasses
2. Two ¼ cups of vegetable oil
3. Two ¼ cups of water (tap water is fine)
4. Two teaspoons of sugar
5. Two teaspoons of lard or coconut oil
6. Four small spoons for mixing
Here’s what to do:
1. Line up all four of your glasses
2. Pour one quarter cup of water into one of the glasses and one quarter cup of oil into another glass.
3. Add one teaspoon sugar to the glass with the water, and another teaspoon of sugar into the glass with the oil.
4. Mix them both well with two of your spoons, one for each glass, for at least two to five minutes.
What happened to the sugar in the water? Can you see any grains of sugar now? Write down what you saw happen.
What happened to the sugar in the oil? Did it dissolve? Write down what you saw.
Based on these observations, is sugar polar or non-polar? (Remember, polar things dissolve in water, while non-polar things dissolve in oil.)
Now for our next experiment:
1. Using your other two spoons, smear one teaspoon of lard or coconut oil onto the inside bottom and sides of each of the remaining two drinking glasses.
2. Add one quarter cup of oil to one of the glasses, and one quarter cup of water to the other glass.
3. Stir both glasses well for at least five minutes. Sometimes the lard or coconut oil is hard to dissolve, so be sure to mix for enough time!
What happened to the lard in the water? Did it dissolve? Is any still clinging to the bottom of the glass? Write down what you saw happen.
What happened to the lard in the oil? Is there any still clinging to the glass? Write down what you saw.
Based on these observations, is lard polar or non-polar? (Remember, polar things dissolve in water, while non-polar things dissolve in oil.)
MAKE UP YOUR OWN EXPERIMENT!
What else can you test in oil and water? Try other things you find in your kitchen, like salt, milk, juice, or baking soda. Write down everything you test, and what you observe!
REMEMBER: Some things you might test are complex mixtures of things that are polar AND things that are non-polar, so they not completely dissolve in either water or oil.