I was asked today what those awful blobs were in my beakers. I forget sometimes not everyone is in on my yearly Peeps experiments. Now my students know when Easter rolls around each year it is time to torture the poor Peeps. You know - those awful "marshmallow" things. I say "marshmallow" because I am not convinced they are actually made of any identifiable food substance. If they won't dissolve in 18 Molar Sulfuric Acid (that will eat a hole in your coffee table - or your hand should you be so unlucky as to let it get on you!) then I can just imagine it happily bobbing along in your stomach which is about 1 Molar Hydrochloric Acid - with enzymes of course. But this year I did make up a solution that was a mock copy of gastric acid of sorts - HCl with enzymes tossed in. It did NOTHING to the happy little Peep.
However - one Peep I did NOT publish photos of because it almost did all of us at the school in with it's destruction - Nitric Acid. My Biology Class talked me into trying Nitric Acid. I have never before tried a Peep in Nitric Acid. I almost did not this year but poured about 1/4th of an inch in a pyrex beaker and put a Peep in. For 1 and 1/2 hours it sat there and while it did melt just a bit - nothing really spectacular happened. We were a but disappointed - yet again. I sat it back on that demo table with the beaker of Acetone and Phenol.
In came my Physical Science class and we were into lecture mode when about 20-30 minutes into my lecture 2 of the girls started pointing and saying, "Mrs. Brock!! Mrs. Brock" I looked back to see what was so important and brownish gas was pouring from the nitric acid/Peep beaker and to say it smelled bad was a very mild understatement. I thought briefly we might all die. I told the class to empty and head to the kitchen while I took the beaker outside. I came back inside to get baking soda (to neutralize the Nitric acid) and prayed that I didn't go back outside to find birds falling from the sky into the parking lot. It was that bad. We had to air the classroom for about 2 hours. BUT it dissolved the Peep totally EXCEPT for the EYES. Nothing will dissolve Peep eyes. However this is the FIRST thing I've tried in some 6 years of doing this that has actually worked. But I am NEVER repeating this again. I do not know what is exactly in the middle of the Peeps but when the Nitric Acid ate through the top layer of the Peep and got to the middle boy did it ever react. We might be able to destroy the Taliban with that stuff!
Oh, by the way, by the time I get through with the experiments each year almost always the students have sworn of ever eating Peeps. We just make things with them instead.