Chemistry of Common Items

Posted on May 21, 2007  Comments (1)

The American Chemistry Society offers interesting articles on the chemistry of everyday products including: amber, henna, catnip and honey:

To make this delicious treat, foraging bees start out by guzzling nectar, a dilute solution of sugars in flowers. Then, they mix the nectar with enzymes in their stomachlike honey sacs. Back at the hive, the foragers pass the digested material to house bees who reduce the moisture content of the mixture by ingesting and regurgitating it. They then deposit concentrated drops into honeycomb cells. Over the next few days, bees fan the fluid with their wings to further concentrate it, and finally, they cap the cells with wax. At the same time, enzyme-mediated changes produce a range of sugars and acids in the honey.

Bee enzymes also show up in the finished product. Invertase is the most critical. It splits the sucrose in the nectar into fructose and glucose and also produces some erlose. Another enzyme, glucose oxidase, converts glucose to gluconolactone, which is then hydrolyzed to give gluconic acid, the principal acid in honey. Formic, acetic, butyric, and lactic acids are also found in honey, which explains why its pH typically measures 3.8-4.0 and bacteria have a hard time growing in it.

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One Response to “Chemistry of Common Items”

  1. CuriousCat: Science Summary: Photosynthesis
    September 5th, 2007 @ 8:33 am

    “Through the process of photosynthesis, plants, algae, and bacteria use sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into the oxygen and food that sustain much of life on Earth…”

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