Leaves of Carob Tree —— Source of Chocolate Substitute

Leaves of the plant that yields carob—the substitute for chocolate that some consider healthier than chocolate—are a rich source of antibacterial substances ideal for fighting the microbe responsible for listeriosis, a serious form of food poisoning, according to a report in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Nadhem Aissani and colleagues explain that the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria has fostered a search for new natural substances to preserve food and control disease-causing microbes. They cite a need for new substances to combat Listeria monocytogenes, bacteria that caused food poisoning outbreaks in a dozen states with three deaths so far this year. Carob has attracted attention as a potential antibacterial substance, but until now, scientists had not tested it against Listeria. Carob may be best-known as a substitute for chocolate that does not contain caffeine or theobromine, which makes chocolate toxic to dogs.

In recent years, there has been great development in the search for new natural compounds for food preservation aimed at a partial or total replacement of currently popular antimicrobial chemicals. Carob (Ceratonia siliqua) offers a natural promising alternative for food safety and bioconservation. In this work, the methanolic extract of carob leaves (MECL) was tested for the ability to inhibit the growth of a range of microorganisms. MECL inhibited the growth of Listeria monocytogenes at 28.12 μg/mL by the broth microdilution method.

Their report describes tests in which extracts of carob leaves proved effective in inhibiting the growth of Listeria bacteria growing in laboratory cultures. Further, it offers a possible explanation for the antibacterial action. The results were promising enough for the scientists to plan further tests of carob extracts on Listeria growing in meat and fish samples.

Researchers Use Voltammetry to Probe the Brain’s Chemistry

Our brains are constantly awash in chemicals that serve as messengers, transporting signals from one neuron to another.  It’s a really nifty system, although scientists still aren’t clear on how, exactly, those chemical messages end up being converted into behaviors like kicking a ball or doing really complicated mathematical computations.

If scientists could get a clear picture of how that conversion works, it would further our understanding of brain function, and open up a host of new treatments for diseases like Parkinson’s or diabetes. So how do we figure out which chemicals are in the brain and what they’re doing in real time?

Chemist Leslie Sombers and her graduate student Leyda Lugo-Morales use an elegant approach that allows for real-time measurement of chemical fluctuations in the brain.  They use voltammetry, which sounds really cool and Frankenstein-y, but is basically a method of electrochemical scanning where voltage is applied to, and current is collected from, a carbon fiber microelectrode that is about 10 times smaller than a human hair.  The resulting data is in the shape of a graph called a voltammogram.  The size of the graph indicates how much of a particular chemical is present and the shape tells the researchers which chemical it is.

Some of the chemicals Sombers is interested in measuring – like glucose, for instance –are normally invisible to electrochemical measuring techniques like voltammetry.  So to make it work, Sombers attaches an enzyme to the electrode that reacts with glucose. The glucose molecule reacts with the enzyme and produces hydrogen peroxide, which oxidizes as an electrical potential is applied to the electrode. The resulting current gets measured, and that data is captured in the voltammogram. When the scientists see the hydrogen peroxide in their voltammogram, they know they’ve found glucose.

Lugo-Morales has already used the probe to make real-time measurements of glucose fluctuations at different locations in a rodent brain. She found that the amounts differed depending upon where the probe was located and that they fluctuated quite a bit over very short times –subseconds – which is how quickly our neurons work.

“A lot of people want to understand glucose dynamics in the brain,” Sombers says. “Sixty  to 70 percent of diabetics show neuronal dysfunction, plus glucose has been linked to diseases like schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s.  If we can understand how glucose is used by the brain we can create better treatments for these diseases.”

Keratin Treatments: Danger or Delight?

Gone are the days when you could simply get away from a situation by saying that you are having a bad hair day. Today, with the advancements in hair treatments and techniques, there is absolutely no chance of having a bad hair day. Nowadays perfect hair is not restricted just for those who are in the glamour world or in the limelight always. Even a common person can have his/her hair in place with the help of such treatments.

For last few months, keratin hair treatments are making lot of buzz in the beauty industry. There are many speculations about this treatment. Let us find out how this treatment works and what keratin is.

What exactly is Keratin?
Keratin is a type of protein that is found in our hair, skin, nails and teeth. Keratin is formed by keratinocytes or living cells that are found in our hair, skin and other parts of our body.

When the keratin in our hair gets damaged due to several chemical treatments like colouring and so on, our hair starts looking frizzy, dull and unmanageable. By applying keratin solution back on the hair, the hair shaft gets a protective layer and turns smooth once again.

Keratin helps in changing the structure of the hair from inside the shaft and locks the hair from outside thereby making your hair strong and healthy.

Keratin is difficult dissolve as it contains a content called as cysteine disulfide. This gives the ability of forming disulfide bridges to the keratin. The disulfide bridges create helix shape and this is extremely strong in nature as sulphur atoms bond with each other in the helix and create a fibrous matrix making the solution difficult to dissolve.

What does Keratin Treatment do?
Keratin treatments smoothen dull and coarse hair and give your hair a shiny finish. The keratin fills the gaps that have developed in your hair cuticle. It is because of these gaps that your hair turns dull and dry. Once these gaps are filled, your hair turns smooth and silky. This keratin treatment smoothens the hair and makes it easy to be styled and managed. There are many types of keratin treatments that are available in the market. However, one thing that you need to consider is the level of a chemical called as formaldehyde.

The effect of keratin treatment lasts up to six months. However, it is important that you follow the instructions provided by the hair stylist to make sure that you get the best results.

Lab-Evolved Enzyme Starves Tumors

Tumors can grow quickly only when they’re well fed, so doctors seek ways to starve the malignancies. Realizing that cancer cells consume more methionine than healthy cells do, researchers engineered a novel human enzyme that degrades the amino acid. In experiments using mice, the protein stopped tumor growth.

However, the bacterial enzyme causes a strong immune reaction in primates, making it a poor drug candidate, says George Georgiou of the University of Texas, Austin. Also, the enzyme’s half-life in human serum is only two hours, he says. Such a short lifetime would mean patients would have to take larger doses of the enzyme to see any benefit, adds Georgiou.

A human MGL would be a better cancer drug than the bacterial enzyme, Georgiou hypothesized. Unfortunately, no such enzyme exists. He and his team set out to make one.

They selected cystathionine gama-lyase (CGL) as a starting point because it is a human enzyme that closely matches MGL in sequence and catalyzes a similar chemical reaction. Plus, CGL has a longer half-life in serum than MGL does. After comparing the sequences of the two enzymes, the researchers realized that they had to make CGL’s active site more hydrophobic to make it interact with methionine. Compared to cystathionine, which is the molecule CGL binds and reacts with, methionine is greasier.

To modify the enzyme’s active site, the researchers created over 2,000 mutated versions of CGL. They then screened the mutants to determine how fast each chewed up methionine and produced methanethiol (also known as Methyl mercaptan) and alpha-ketobutyrate. The team monitored the reaction by adding the compound 3-methylbenzothiazolin-2-one hydrazone, which reacts with alpha-ketobutyrate to produce an ultraviolet-absorbing molecule. The enzyme that was most efficient at catalyzing the reaction differed from CGL by just three amino acids and had a half-life of 78 hours in human serum.

“It’s very impressive,” says Eugene Frenkel of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. They are “well on their way” to developing a medicine, he says. He thinks the enzyme’s current rate of methionine chewing would work against a wide range of fast-growing tumors. Still, Georgiou wants to increase the enzyme’s speed, which would make a lower dose of the protein able to slow tumor growth.

The Chemistry Of Fat In Our Bodies

Talking about fat, did you know that there is chemistry behind the fat in our body too? Yes, this is true, there is chemistry involved behind fats as well. Let us find out more about the chemistry of fat in our bodies.

Most of us are health conscious. Almost every celebrity, magazine, newspaper or television channel are promoting fitness by losing fat and keeping our weight in check. But did you know there is a link between chemistry and fats in our body?

The modern obsession with fats and cholesterol is due to a greater understanding of the role of a group of bio-chemicals known as Lipids. Fats and oils are one type of lipids that are triglyceride molecules and are based on glycerol, which is an organic molecule made up of a chain of three carbon atoms with a hydroxyl (OH) group. Each hydroxyl group in glycerol connects to a long chain molecule known as a fatty acid. This results in a three-tailed molecule, which is called as a triglyceride. During the formation of triglycerides, the resultant fat molecules are totally hydrophobic, i.e. they do not dissolve in water. The human body stores these fats because they are a good source of energy.

Saturated, unsaturated fats and oils refer to the bonding between the carbons and hydrogen in the long chain of the fatty acids. Fats derived from animals have chains that are all bonded with single bonds where all the carbon atoms have hydrogen atoms attached. These are called saturated fats. Since the chains all line up nicely, they are usually solid even at room temperature.

Cis and Trans fats are prefixes that are often seen on nutritional information on food packets. They relate to the shape of the carbon-carbon double bond. If the hydrogen is bonded to the same side of the double bond then it is a cis-bond. If they are bonded to the opposite sides then it is a trans-bond.

Compared to trans-bonds, cis-bonds are easier for the body to break down and are found abundantly in natural vegetable oils. If the oil is heated, they transform into trans-bonds. Oil that has been continually heated and re-heated has a lot of trans-bonds. This is why food cooked in deep fat fryers contains more trans-bonds than those cooked in a frying pan.

So, the next time you hear about fat, don’t blindly believe that all fats are bad. Some are beneficial and almost vital for our body! Just ensure you are consuming the right ones.

The Mystery of Sodium Dodecyl and Laureth Sulfates

Every morning we wake up and the first thing that we do is brush our teeth. But have you ever wondered what do the tube of toothpaste and the bar of soap that we use contain? Well they contain a substance called as SDS. Let us find out more about this substance.

SDS is on your hands and in your mouth too! You wake up every morning and brush your teeth. But have you ever wondered what your toothpaste or a bar of soap contains? Well, they contain a substance known as SDS.

What is SDS?
Sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS), also known as sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), is a
substance found in toothpaste, liquid soaps and detergents and is used for different protein studies in Biochemistry. In its purified state, SDS is a white powder of medium molecular weight (M.W. or F.W. of 288.38, C12H25O4SNa). A modified form of SDS is sodium laureth sulphate (M.W. or F.W. 418.53, C12+2nH25+4nNaO4+nS). Both these compounds have a lot of scientific and household uses.

In the Lab
SDS is used during the protein purification process and is used for studying the
protein molecular weights by a technique called polyacrylamide electrophoresis (PAGE). Proteins are dissolved in a solution of SDS, which is an anionic detergent that binds one SDS molecule to every two amino acid residues in the entire protein molecule.

Sodium dodecyl sulphate (the CAS number is 151-21-3) is a detergent that promotes a linear or a straightened, non-globular configuration of the native proteins. Cross-linking disulfide covalent bonds in the protein are broken by the use of mercaptoethanol (2-thioethanol) or dithiothreitol. These chemical treatments permit different types of proteins, which are characterized and defined according to their specific molecular weight.

In the Home
SDS plays an important role in homes as they have foaming characteristics that are used
in toothpastes, liquid hand soaps and liquid detergents.

Toothpastes commonly contain SDS that helps separate, free and remove food and debris in and around the teeth and gums helping prevent tooth decay and pyorrhea of the gums. Hand washes, liquid soaps and some laundry detergents use SDS to remove dirt and debris.

History Of Hair Dye

Who said that when you grow old, you will turn ugly with grey hair, wrinkles and all? Today, with so many advancements in the cosmetic industry, you can actually look beautiful even if you grow old. You can actually stay as 18 till you die. When hair turns grey, people dye their hair with the shades of their preference. But have you wondered how this hair dye made a debut.

How it all started?
Since ages, people have been colouring their hair using extracts from plants and minerals.
Some of these natural agents contain pigments like those of henna, black walnut shells while others contained natural bleaching agents. It was later discovered that these agents caused reactions that changed the colour of the hair.

Archaeologists found evidence that in places like Neanderthals, people used various things to change the colour of both hair and skin. Ancient Gauls and Saxons dyed their hair with different vibrant colours to show rank and to instil fear in enemies on the battlefield. Babylonian men sprinkled gold dust on their hair. The very first mixtures could only darken the hair, but later different methods were found to bleach the hair blonde, often by exposing the painted hair to sunlight for hours. Throughout history, various means were used to produce a full spectrum of hair dye colours.

Discovery of hair dye
In the 1800s, chemists found a substance called as para-phenylenediamine (PPD, the CAS number is 106-50-3) and
discovered its use in the creation of a synthetic dye. At the same time, it was found that hydrogen peroxide was a gentler and safer chemical as compared to the other chemicals for hair bleaching. These two discoveries paved way for chemist Eugene Schueller, who created the first commercial chemical hair dye, which he called as “Aureole.” This product was later known as “L’Oreal.”

The double-process for dying hair blonde soon followed, and in 1932 hair dye was refined by chemist Lawrence Gelb who created a hair dye that actually penetrated in the shaft of the hair. His company was called as “Clairol.” Later, in 1950, he introduced the first one-step hair dye product that actually lightened the hair without bleaching it. This became a huge hit in the modern era of hair dye and brought in the ability for hair to be coloured at home.

Since then people have been colouring their hair and the demand for a good hair dye hasn’t diminished. Today, we have a galore of hair colour options and different companies offering different products. Truly, today we are definitely spoiled for choice.

History of Lipsticks

Lipsticks are known as a woman’s best friend. No matter what, you are sure to find one of these hidden in every woman’s handbag or closet. We have seen it on almost every woman. We place it on our lips and it does make us more attractive, sophisticated in fact more woman. It is one of things we declare that we are ready to become women.

This cosmetic has been with mankind for quite a while. However, one thing to be noted here is that it did not begin in the early twentieth century or the century before that. The origins of lipstick lie in the mists of time; in the beginnings of human civilization in fact. Let us find out more about this.

Ancient Egyptians also extracted red dye from fungi called as fucus-algin and added 0.01% iodine, and some bromine mannite. However this resulted in serious illness. Cleopatra made her lipstick from crushed carmine beetles, which gave a deep red pigment, and ants for a base.

During the Islamic Golden Age, the notable cosmetologist, Arab Andalusian Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (Abulcasis) invented solid lipsticks, which were perfumed sticks rolled and pressed in special moulds.

By the end of the 19th century, Guerlain, a French cosmetic company, begin manufacturing lipstick. In 1884, the first commercial lipstick was invented, by perfumers in Paris, France. It was covered in silk paper and was made from deer tallow, castor oil, and beeswax.

Later in the same century, lipstick was coloured with carmine dye. Carmine dye was extracted from Cochineal, scale insects that lived on cactus plants. Cochineal insects produced carminic acid which was used to deter other insects. Carminic acid was mixed with aluminium to make the carmine dye.

By the middle of the 1930s lipstick became available in various colours. During the 1940s the rotating push up lipstick was invented. By the end of World War II, lipstick had become one of the most widely used cosmetics.

Lipstick today is made out of many ingredients. There are now in organic types made of castor oil, beeswax (its CAS number is 8012-89-3) and other various natural oils. To many, the history of lipstick seems to have gone full circle.

The history of lipstick has been noted for various innovations in ingredients and contents. There many types of lipsticks today.

Why Does Red Cabbage Change Colour When Cooked?

Chemistry is just not about chemicals in laboratories. It is present in everything that we do in our daily life and also in our kitchens. When we cook this red cabbage, the cabbage changes its colour. Have you wondered how that happens? Let’s find out what happens when red cabbage is cooked.

Red cabbage is one of many fruits and vegetables that contain a class of reddish purple pigments called anthocyanins, which is responsible for its colour. Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid pigment that are responsible for the red, purple and blue colours in most plants, leaves, flowers and fruits. These pigments have a tendency to change colour when mixed with alkaline or acidic ingredients.

Anthocyanins consist of many carbon rings onto which hydrogens are attached. This particular chemical formation allows these molecules to take on two forms. In one form, a hydrogen atom present is attached to the exterior and in the other form it is not. Acidic ingredients are characterized by having more hydrogen atoms (H+) than hydroxyl groups (OH-) so when exposed to acid, anthocyanins grab a hydrogen atom and turns red in colour. In alkaline conditions where there are no excess hydrogen atoms, the molecule appears blue or green in colour.

Anthocyanin turns red in acidic conditions when the pH is less than seven. It is not uncommon for apples or lemon juice to be part of braised red cabbage recipes because they help maintain the its red colour. Common acidic ingredients used in cooking include: 1) Vinegar 2) Lemon juice 3) Citric acid 4) Fruits and fruit juices.

Even baked goods, which frequently use baking soda or baking powder as a leavening agent can discolour fruits and vegetables like red cabbage. An understanding of simple cabbage chemistry will now allows you to adjust the pH of a recipe in order to prevent undesirable discolouration of the food item.

Suncreen From The Sea

King’s College London has entered into an agreement with skincare company Aethic to develop the first sunscreen based on MAA’s (mycosporine-like amino acids), produced by coral.

It was last year that a team led by Dr Paul Long at King’s discovered how the naturally-occurring MAA’s were produced. Algae living within coral make a compound that is transported to the coral, which then modifies it into a sunscreen for the benefit of both the coral and the algae.  Not only does this protect them both from UV damage, but fish that feed on the coral also benefit from this sunscreen protection.

The next phase of development is for the researchers to work with Professor Antony Young and colleagues at the St John’s Institute of Dermatology at King’s, to test the efficacy of the compounds using human skin models.

Aethic’s Sovee sunscreen was selected as the best ‘host’ product for the compound because of its existing broad-spectrum UVA/UVB and photo-stability characteristics and scientifically proven ecocompatibility credentials.

Dr Paul Long, Reader in Pharmacognosy at King’s Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, said: “While MAA’s have a number of other potential applications, human sunscreen is certainly a good place to begin proving the compound’s features. If our further studies confirm the results we are expecting, we hope that we will be able to develop a sunscreen with the broadest spectrum of protection.  Aethic has the best product and philosophy with which to proceed this exciting project.”

Allard Marx, CEO of Aethic, added: “With the recent launch of S?vée we believe that we are already leading the industry. Together with King’s we would like to raise our product benefits to an even higher level using MAA’s. We are very excited about the potential.”

Folic Acid & Vitamin B9

Folic acid is also known as folacin, vitamin M and vitamin B9 and is an essential component in a large number of biochemical processes in the human body. Would you like to have a memory like you had seven years ago? A study conducted by a group of Dutch researchers found that folic acid helpful in improving the memory of a person. Let us find out how this important acid came into being and how it is important in our day-to-day life.

Folic acid is a large organic molecule which has a complicated structure. Its empirical formula is C19H19N7O6. It is not biologically active by itself, but it becomes active when it is converted to dihydrofolic acid and then tetrahydrofolate in the liver.

The chemical is defined as a vitamin because it is a vital component in our diet that we must obtain from food. It is particularly necessary for pregnant women soon after conception because without folic acid the embryo may develop neural tube defects and other developmental disorders. In the late 1990s, US scientists realized that despite the availability of folate in foods and in supplements, there was still a challenge for people to meet their daily folate requirements, which is when the US implemented the folate fortification program.

The function of the folate molecules produced from folic acid is to help in the transfer of one-carbon units (methylation) in a variety of reactions that are critical to the metabolism of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins.

So, the synthesis of DNA from its precursors is dependent on the presence of folate molecules as co-enzymes. They are also necessary in order to prevent the changes to DNA molecules which could lead to the formation of cancers. Folates are also necessary for the formation of several important amino acids like methionine. This helps in preventing a build up of homocysteine which is a precursor of methionine, and a risk factor for heart disease.

So, make sure you include the main sources of this essential nutrient which include green leafy vegetables, sprouts and asparagus. Besides these, legumes such as beans, peas and lentils are also good sources of folic acid and citrus fruit juices and fortified grain products such as cereal, pasta and bread. Folic acid can also be taken as a supplement in tablet form.

Harnessing Anticancer Drugs

Medical Systems Virology group at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) at the University of Helsinki, together with its national and international collaborators, developed a new cell screening method that can be used to identify potential anti-influenza drugs. The researchers were able to identify two novel compounds with anti-influenza activity, obatoclax and gemcitabine and prove the efficacy of a previously known drug saliphenylhalamide.

The study was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and is now available online.

Influenza viruses cause significant human morbidity and mortality. To treat the infections, different virus-directed drugs have been developed. However, the currently available drugs are targeting viral proteins and due to a high mutation rate the influenza viruses quickly develop resistance to them. For that reason, next-generation antiviral drugs should be directed towards the host functions. The results of this study provide a foundation for development of next-generation antiviral drugs. Furthermore, these identified compounds can be used as chemical tools when studying the molecular mechanisms of virus-host interactions.

“An interesting aspect of this study is that the antiviral effects of obatoclax, saliphenylhalamide and gemcitabine, which all are either investigational or approved anticancer agents, are achieved at much lower concentrations than that needed to mediate cancer cell death” said the group leader Denis Kainov.

However, further research is still needed before these drugs can be clinically tested and applied in influenza infections.

This research project is a good example of repurposing of drugs, i.e. finding new applications for existing drugs and thus saving money and time on drug development.

“We anticipate that these types of drugs could in the future reinforce the therapeutic arsenal and address the needs of the society to control influenza outbreaks”, said Olli Kallioniemi, the Director of FIMM.

Researchers Devise Simple and Cheap Method to Detect TB

Tuberculosis or TB as it’s become more commonly known, is a horrible disease by all accounts, it slowly kills many of its victims, particularly those living in the developing world. In 2010, it killed an estimated four thousand people every single day, which is particularly horrendous when noting that many of those who succumb to its effects could be have been saved were they to be diagnosed and treated in a timely manner.

Unfortunately, in many areas of the world neither is available, thus the news that a team of researchers working together from several universities in the US has developed a new kind of test that reveals the presence of TB in patients, both quickly and cheaply, is truly exciting. The new probe, as the team describes in their paper published in Nature Chemistry, can allow for TB detection using nothing more than a simple box housing light emitting diodes and some filters.

Up till now, the only way to test for TB in remote patients was to collect a sputum sample and send it to a location that had a microscope, where trained clinicians looked for the TB bacteria. Sadly, this method is not only slow, it’s also relatively inaccurate when there are few bacteria to be seen, such as is the case with infected children. With the new probe, test times can be reduced to mere minutes and accuracy is improved dramatically.

Reducing the amount of time it takes to test for TB not only helps the patient, it helps those around them too because TB is of course, communicable, with some estimating that one infected, untreated person may account for as many as ten or fifteen new infections in others in just one year.

Early diagnosis of tuberculosis can dramatically reduce both its transmission and the associated death rate. The extremely slow growth rate of the causative pathogen, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), however, makes this challenging at the point of care, particularly in resource-limited settings. Here we report the use of BlaC (an enzyme naturally expressed/secreted by tubercle bacilli) as a marker and the design of BlaC-specific fluorogenic substrates as probes for Mtb detection. These probes showed an enhancement by 100–200 times in fluorescence emission on BlaC activation and a greater than 1,000-fold selectivity for BlaC over TEM-1 beta-lactamase, an important factor in reducing false-positive diagnoses.

Insight into the BlaC specificity was revealed by successful co-crystallization of the probe/enzyme mutant complex. A refined green fluorescent probe (CDG-OMe) enabled the successful detection of live pathogen in less than ten minutes, even in unprocessed human sputum. This system offers the opportunity for the rapid, accurate detection of very low numbers of Mtb for the clinical diagnosis of tuberculosis in sputum and other specimens.

More Information About Alcohol

When we think of alcohol, the first thing that comes to our mind is drink… However, alcohol has better uses and is more than just a drink. Let us find out more about this important thing.

How is alcohol made?

Whether it is made as wine or beer, the method of production is essentially the same. A carbohydrate, such as starch or sugar, is broken down into glucose form and is then mixed with yeast and allowed to ferment for weeks or even months. Catalysts within the yeast then convert the glucose into alcohol and carbon dioxide thereby releasing the energy that the yeast needs in order to survive and grow.

Uses of Some Alcohols

Alcohols are not just drinks but are widely used as solvents. This is because of its ability to dissolve many substances that cannot be dissolved in water. Ethanediol (ethylene glycol), an alcohol, is used as anti-freeze, to prevent water from freezing in car radiators. The sweet tasting glycerol (glycerine) is an alcohol which is made as a by-product of the manufacture of soap from fats or oils. Ethanol has a boiling point which is similar to that of petrol. It burns very well with a clean flame, and can therefore be used as a fuel.

Oxidation of Alcohols

Alcohols react with organic acids to form substances called as esters, which are found in all living organisms. Animal fats and vegetable oils are examples of such esters. Many esters are sweet-smelling chemicals which are widely distributed among fruits. It is these that give a fruit its characteristic smell and flavour. Many esters are manufactured for use as food flavourings, while others are used as solvents. Ethyl ethanoate (also called as Ethyl acetate,the CAS No. is 141-78-6) for example is made from ethanol and ethanoic acid and is a common solvent for paints, glues and nail varnish.

Oxidation of alcohols to organic acids like vinegar is a two-stage process, the intermediate compound being an aldehyde. Methanol, for example, is oxidised to methanal (formaldehyde), and is used to preserve dead biological specimens and organs for use in scientific research. The oxidation of methanal produces methanoic (formic) acid, which is responsible for the stings of ants and nettles.

Why Is Castile Soap So Appealing?

Castile soap (CAS No. 8029-38-7) is made with fat of purely vegetable origin, rather than animal fats such as tallow. Many stores sell it, and it is a specialty of several regions in Europe, where it is made with various traditional ingredients. It is also possible to purchase a castile soap base for the purpose of blending your own soaps. This type of soap has historically been highly prized and viewed as a high quality soap which is gentle on the skin and useful for a range of other applications.

This soap is said to be named for the Kingdom of Castile, a region in what is now known as Spain. Evidence seems to suggest that castile soap actually originated in Northern Italy, and spread outwards from there, although this soap is so ancient that it is a bit difficult to pin down the precise details of its history. In Castile, the soap was made with olive oil only, and some people differentiate between capitalized Castile soap, made with olive oil, and lower case castile soap, made with other vegetable oils.

Although olive oil is the traditional base oil, castile soap can be made with coconut, hemp, avocado, almond, walnut, and many other vegetable oils. The composition of the soap will vary slightly, depending on which base oil is used. In pure form, castile soap is white, hard, and odorless. Many soapmakers also make a liquid version of castile soap, which is odorless and pale cream to white, often thickening in cool weather.

Once the base is made, castile soap can be scented with various floral ingredients, blended with oatmeal and other coarse materials to assist with exfoliation, or treated in other ways to create soap with specific purposes. Castile soap is often used as a hand soap in fine hotels, and the soap can also be used as a general body soap, a shampoo, or a general cleaner. Castile soaps can be used to wash clothes, scrub floors, bathe pets, and in a variety of other situations when something needs to be cleaned.

This type of soap is often highly prized because it is made with natural ingredients, appealing to people who want to be environmentally conscious. It is also very gentle, suitable for people with sensitive skin along with delicate surfaces and fabrics ranging from soft stone to silk. Some people like to blend their own castile soap, using soap base and essential oils.

Understanding Maillard Reaction

When you cook meat, have you wondered why the meat changes colour at different stages of cooking? This is because of the Maillard reaction. Wondering what is Maillard reaction? Well, let us find out.

Meet the Maillard Reaction
When we cook meat, the Maillard Reaction occurs and the amino acids in the meat react with the reducing sugars to form colours and flavours.

When meat is cooked, it changes colour and the flavours also change. This phenomenon is taken for granted by many cooks, but it is actually the result of chemical reactions that are caused when the temperature of the meat is increased. These chemical reactions were first studied by a French scientist by the name Louis Camille Maillard as part of his PhD thesis in the year 1912, so the reaction is known as the Maillard reaction.

Reaction with Amino Acids
Amino acids make up the group of chemicals which form the monomers for the important polymers which are known as proteins, so there are a lot of them that are available in a steak or joint of meat, for example. The important part of the amino acid is the amino group which is a nitrogen atom that is attached to two hydrogen atoms (-NH2).

Cooking Meat Starts the Reaction
The two chemicals exist side by side in meat, and these chemicals hardly react till the meat is heated. Then, the reaction speeds up greatly, with the amino group from the amino acid displacing the double-bonded oxygen. The nitrogen forms a double bond with the carbon, and a molecule of water is formed. A new molecule is called as isomers. These are called as Amadori compounds.

From this point a series of alternative reactions can occur, producing a range of different compounds, including two important flavour compounds known as furfural and hydroxy methyl furfural (HMF). The brown colours come from other products of the Maillard reaction called as melanodins.

The Maillard reaction forms colours and flavours in food that are appreciated by those who eat them. Some leaner, white meats do not have many reducing sugars, so they do not develop such a brown colour and have fewer flavours.

So the next time you cook meat and if it turns brown, you are sure to know the reason

A Special Type Of Yogurt For ‘Anti-hunger’

Promising results were reported here today from a proof-of-concept clinical trial of an “anti-hunger” ingredient for yogurt, fruit shakes, smoothies and other foods that would make people feel full longer and ease the craving to eat. Scientists described the ingredient, a new version of a food additive that has been in use for more than 50 years, at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

The potential new tool in the battle of the bulge is methyl cellulose, a white powder that dissolves in cold water to form a thick solution that turns into a “gel” or gelatin-like material upon heating.

Methyl cellulose provides a pleasant texture and holds together the ingredients in hundreds of food products like baked goods, sweet and savory snacks and ready meals.

Carsten Huettermann, Ph.D., who presented the report, said that this is the first use of methyl cellulose as a satiety ingredient in food.

“This ingredient would make people feel full after eating smaller amounts of food,” Huettermann explained. “With that sense of fullness and hunger-satisfaction, they would not crave more food. In our first study, we saw that fewer calories were consumed at the following meal after eating our new product. Our next step now is to investigate in further studies the mechanism of action and whether this may have an impact on weight management.”

The updated methyl cellulose, named SATISFIT-LTG, showed promise for doing that in a controlled clinical trial that Huettermann discussed at the meeting. He is with Dow Wolff Cellulosics in Bomlitz, Germany, which manufactures methyl cellulose. Volunteers who consumed SATISFIT-LTG experienced a reduction in the sensation of hunger that lasted until the consumption of a following meal in which the volunteers could eat as much as they wanted (two hours after eating SATISFIT-LTG) and a statistically significant reduced intake of calories at this meal. The consumption of SATISFIT-LTG resulted in a 13 percent decrease in calorie intake.

Huettermann explained that conventional versions of methyl cellulose (its CAS No. is 9004-67-5) pass through the stomach rapidly and do not work as a satiety ingredient. SATISFIT-LTG, however, forms a gel at body temperature, and the gel lingers in the stomach before passing into the small intestine.

The scientists are developing SATISFIT-LTG as a potential ingredient in cold foods, such as smoothies and yogurts, and Huettermann said that work will continue based on the promising clinical trial results.

The science behind soda water

We all love to have a sip of our favourite soft drink when we are thirsty, especially in summers. And we also love to have a little fizz in it. This fizz is the bubbly effervescence that is produced by adding pressurized carbon dioxide gas to water. It’s also called carbonated water or just soda water.

The first soda
Joseph Priestley was the first person to invent soda water. He suspended a bowl of water over a beer vat in a brewery and patiently waited to see what happened. Soon the bowl of water was fizzing with carbon dioxide released from the fermentation of beer. And that was how soda was born. However, it was only in the later part of the 19th century that soda water was introduced as a popular soft drink.

Flavoured soda drinks
Eugene Roussel, a Frenchman in Philadelphia, was the first person to popularize flavoured soda soft drinks. He set up a small counter in the perfume shop that he owned and offered customers glasses of orange, cherry, lemon, teaberry, ginger, peach and root beer flavoured soda water. And since the people who started producing soda water were chemists, this product was easily available in medical shops in the United States.

The chemistry of soda
When carbon dioxide is mixed in water it forms carbonic acid. To this, salts like sodium bicarbonate (food grade, the CAS number is 144-55-8) are added to reduce the amount of acidity in the drink. Sodium and other metallic salts are used to neutralise the acidic flavour of the drinks.

Today, soda water is made by sending pressurized carbon dioxide through water. The high pressure allows more carbon dioxide to dissolve than it would normally be possible. The soda is then packed into an airtight bottle. When this pressurized bottle is opened, the gas rises to the top bubbling. And if you shake the bottle before opening, the soda will spill out splashing all over, when opened.

All About Natural Mosquito Repellents

We have always known mosquito repellents to carry pungent and irritating smell. In fact, many of us are even allergic to the smell because of the chemicals involved in these repellents. However, we do have natural mosquito repellents that are not pungent and are user friendly… Let us explore more…

Mosquito repellents are not advisable to be used in case there is a pregnant woman in the house. This is because of the presence of DEET in the sprays.

How do mosquitoes work?

Mosquitoes although are small in size, have complex methods of detecting hosts. In fact, different types of mosquitoes react to different stimuli. Most mosquitoes are active at dawn and dusk, but there are some types of mosquitoes that seek hosts even during the day. You can avoid being bitten by making sure that you are not attracting mosquitoes. By using attractants to lure mosquitoes elsewhere like using a repellent, and avoiding actions that bring down the effectiveness of the repellent.

Know the Mosquito Attractants

Mosquitoes get attracted by different things. Here is a list of items and activities that can attract mosquitoes. You can avoid mosquito bites by using natural mosquito repellents to lure mosquitoes away from you.

Dark Clothing
Most of the mosquitoes use vision to locate their hosts from a distance. Dark clothes and
foliage are initial attractants for the mosquitoes.

Carbon Dioxide
Mosquitoes generally get attracted to those people who give off more carbon dioxide when
you are hot or have been exercising. A burning candle or other fire is another source of carbon dioxide.

Lactic Acid
When you release more lactic acid when you have been exercising or after eating certain
foods like salty foods or high-potassium foods, mosquitoes are likely to attack you more as compared to others.

Floral or Fruity Fragrances
Besides perfumes, hair products, and other products like scented sunscreens, make sure you
watch for the subtle floral fragrance that comes from fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Mosquitoes get attracted to such fragrances.

Skin Temperature
The exact temperature depends on the type of mosquito. Many mosquitoes are attracted to
people with slightly cooler temperatures of the extremities.

Mosquitoes get attracted by perspiration because of the chemicals it contains and also
because of the increase in the humidity around your body. Even small amounts of water like moist plants or mud puddles will draw mosquitoes. Stagnant water also allows mosquitoes to reproduce and breed.

Make your own natural repellents

Getting offended by the pungent smell of the mosquito repellents? Well, here is an easy way to make your own natural mosquito repellent. These natural products will effectively repel mosquitoes. However, you will be required to apply it more frequently like at least every two hours. This is because of the differences between types of mosquitoes. Products that contain multiple repellents tend to be more effective than those containing a single ingredient.

You can prepare your natural mosquito repellent by using different plant oils and applying them directly on your body. Here are some of the oils that you can mix to prepare a natural mosquito repellent:

Citronella Oil
Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
Cinnamon Oil
Castor Oil
Rosemary Oil
Lemongrass Oil
Cedar Oil
Peppermint Oil
Clove Oil
Geranium Oil

You can also use oils from Verbena, Pennyroyal, Lavender, Pine, Cajeput, Basil, Thyme, Allspice, Soybean, and Garlic plants. Another plant-derived substance, pyrethrum, is an insecticide. It comes from the flowers of the daisy Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium.

However, you need to remember that ‘natural’ does not automatically imply ‘safe’. Many people may be sensitive to plant oils. Some natural insect repellents are actually toxic. Therefore, although natural repellents provide an alternative to synthetic chemicals, please remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using these products.

Are Chemical Dispersants Toxic?

Several groups filed a lawsuit on Monday against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its rules on the use of chemical dispersants to clean up oil spills, claiming that they do not meet clean water requirements. They basically claim that the current dispersants merely replace the oil in the water with a different polluting chemical.

The lawsuit is based upon the fact that the EPA has not published any schedule to identify when and where the dispersants such as Polyacrylic Acid Sodium (PAAS, the CAS number is 9003-04-7) can be used, and in what quantities.

It is common knowledge that oil spills are harmful to the environment, yet in the rush to clean them up we could be doing more damage; at least that is what certain environmental groups fear. During the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 more than 1.8 million gallons of chemicals were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico without knowing the true extent of any toxic effects it might have on the environment.

It really would be a shocking revelation to find that in cleaning up the oil spills the companies are actually adding to the pollution, and that the EPA has almost been turning a blind eye to it. Environmental groups also sued the EPA and US Coast Guard back in Aril over the unknown effects of dispersants on endangered species. Maybe more attention should be paid to the effects of cleaning up oil spills, rather than concentrating fully on the oil spill itself.