May 23, 2017

Mad Scientist?

Remember this jar of salt water, vinegar, and rusty bits? After removing the twine, I left the solution and rusty bits sitting to see if anything would happen. Specifically, I wanted to find out whether or not the solution would react with the rusty bits to become usable as a dye bath or color modifier.
Despite the fact that the jar has been sitting on a corner of the kitchen work table for over 3 weeks, I paid it no mind. Actually, I completely forgot about it. Until it turned into something I'd expect to see at the Mütter Museum. I blame our outrageous heat wave.
At first I thought that tumor-like blob bobbing on the surface of the liquid was the bottle cap in exploded form. Not so. The bottle cap and two washers remain at the bottom of the jar.
After marveling for a while at my unintended science experiment, I plucked up the courage to remove the lid, fully expecting a noxious off-gassing or horrendous odor. Nope. The lid wasn't under pressure nor was there any smell. But look what cool stuff is happening on the surface of the liquid!
It's like the pattern of fragile ice at the edges of a pond or on the surface of a shallow puddle, so delicate it will shatter with the slightest pressure or weight. But, you know, rust colored. I have no idea what we're looking at, but it is fascinating. 

The Hubs - who is, after all, an analytical chemist - suspects the frothing bubbles and tumor are due to bacterial or algal activity. I haven't decided if I'm going to try using it to alter dye color or just pitch it. However, I do have some avocado skins to play with. I'll probably go ahead and see what the iron bath does to the avocado coloring. After all, whatever I dye and treat with the tumorous bath will be subject to a thorough wash. Or I might just get too grossed out. Wearing gloves will lower the ick factor, right?


  1. My rust water bucket always has a 'nice' head on it like your jar.....thought that perhaps it was the vinegar fermenting.

    1. Hi Julie,
      Fermenting vinegar, now there's a thought. I like that explanation much better than bacterial growth! And it is comforting to hear that this phenomenon isn't uncommon. How do you use your rust water?