Chemical reaction


Oven cleaner can be corrosive. It is wise to take precautions when using the strong chemicals. Especially when the pack of oven cleaner is so old that it does not carry a ‘use by’ date.

I wandered around the house to warn everyone that I had just smeared a dangerous substance all over the oven.

Teenage son pricked up his ears at the words “dangerous substance” and looked up from his computer.

“What sort of substance?” He asked.

“I don’t know,” I admitted, “some sort of strong alkali I think. It’s not very exciting.”

“You can’t tell me that there is a strong alkali reaction going on and it is not very exciting,” said teenage son, rushing downstairs to the kitchen.

He studies chemistry. He likes fumes and explosions.

When I got to the kitchen he was peering into the oven, with the empty bottle of oven cleaner in his hand. He studied the ingredients and looked back into the oven.

“Is it giving off hydrogen?” He inquired.

“I don’t know.” I shrugged.

“Can I put a match in… to find out?”

I remember enough chemistry to know that hydrogen causes a small ‘pop’ in a test tube, and probably a large ‘bang’ in an oven.

“No.” I said firmly. “The instructions say that the room should be well-ventilated. And you are not to turn on the gas hob either.”

It is a good job that Marie Curie’s father was not as cautious as I am.

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