MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: How does adding salt to PSA+water turn the 'slime' back into a liquid?

Date: Mon Jun 5 13:55:33 2000
Posted By: Steven Korenstein, Grad student, Environmental/Occupational Health, Cal. State Un. Northridge
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 958585805.Ch

Loaiza Ortiz,

Before I say too much let me make it clear that I am just making an 
educated guess, so take this answer for what it is worth. 

It sounds as if the salt is drawing the water out of the psa.  There could 
only be two ways this could happen.  One, is that the salt is chemically 
attaching to the psa molicule and then in some way changing its 
configuration, and thus releasing the water.  This does not sound very 
likley to me.  So, two... the salt is changing the system physically.  By 
adding salt to the system we might be creating an osmotic gradient with 
enough osmotic preasure that the water is literally being sucked out of 
the psa molecule.  This at least sounds possible.  If this hypothesis is 
true other compounds that create osmotic gradients shoud also work, such 
as suger or different types of salt.  I would expect that alcohol and 
viniger would not work if my hypothesis is correct.  So try it and let me 
know your results.  Good luck.

Steven Korenstein
Environmental Health Specialist

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