Summary: This experiment will be quite quick. As soon as you pour the acetone on the styrofoam, bubbles start forming. After a short while, the cup is almost completely dissolved. What is left is a putty-like substance made from styrofoam minus the air.
Relevant Chemistry Concept: This experiment is a good example of a physical change that is hard to see. So, what is a physical change? And how does that relate to this experiment?
A physical change is a change that occurs in a substance where its chemical formula is not changed. This is a physical change because it can go back to it's original state. The bubbles that are created in this are actually letting out air that was trapped inside the styrofoam. So, if it were physically possible, we could actually change it back to how it was. That is how the 'dissolving a styrofoam cup with acetone' is relevant to physical change.
- One styrofoam cup
- about 3 teaspoons of acetone/nail polish remover (add more if needed)
- aluminum tray to put underneath
- Place a styrofoam cup on the tray.
- Pour 3 teaspoons (or more) acetone in the cup.
- Watch it melt and occasionally push the cup down into the acetone/nail polish remover to speed up the reaction.
- When the cup has fully dissolved, check out the results.