MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: gasoline and styrofoam

Area: Chemistry
Posted By: Samuel Conway, Senior Staff Chemist, Avid Therapeutics,Philadelphia, PA
Date: Sat Dec 7 13:00:14 1996
Message ID: 846880170.Ch

There is an old adage in chemistry:  "like dissolves like".

Styrofoam is polystyrene that has been puffed up with a gas into a 
foamy material that hardens.  Much of it is gas trapped in bubbles,
which is why it is so light.

Polystyrene itself is a hydrocarbon, which means it is made up only
of carbon and hydrogen atoms bound together.  Since "like dissolves
like," a hydrocarbon would be likely to dissolve this substance.
Gasoline is a hydrocarbon, and as you'd predict, polystyrene dissolves
in it.

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