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Author: Subject: Egg whites + NaOH ?!?!
HexJam
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[*] posted on 31-10-2008 at 02:24
Egg whites + NaOH ?!?!


A friend sent me a link to an online version of 'Steal This Book' by Abbie Hoffman (an 'Anarchists Cookbook' style book) and although I'm not really interested in that sort of thing out of curiosity I decided to check out the chemistry section. In it it gives a recipy for a stink bomb, one that I'd never heard of:

"A home-made stink bomb can be made by mixing a batch of egg whites, Drano, (sodium hydroxide) and water. Let the mixture sit for a few days in a capped bottle before using."

Does anyone know chemically what is going on here? (Or even if it works at all!). I imagine a bottle full of mouldy eggs would stink quite badly (if it doesn't just explode outright off the pressure of any gasses released!), but whats the point of the NaOH? I seem to remember reading somewhere that hydrogen sulfide is responsible for the smell of rotten eggs, has this got somthing to do with it? Thoughts?

(& before the flaming starts, I have no interest in actually making this stuff BTW, this is purely for satisfying my curiosity!)
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Nerro
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[*] posted on 31-10-2008 at 07:28


The NaOH will create a strongly alkaline environment which will hydrolyse the protein in the egg white. The amino acids will be hydrolysed further to yield ß-hydroxyacids and ammonia. Ammonia stinks.

There won't be any H<sub>2</sub>S because that's an acid and it's probably going to form some HS<sup>-</sup> and some S<sup>2-</sup>.




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argyrium
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[*] posted on 31-10-2008 at 13:01


I believe that one of the critters formed could possibly be 3-Methyl-1H-indole, AKA skatole :-(
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16MillionEyes
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[*] posted on 26-3-2009 at 18:44


The only reasonable explanation is that provided by Nerro in which the strongly alkaline environment will speed up protein hydrolysis. Aside from that, decomposition of amino acids to various amine derivatives as carried out by microorganisms (never mind what they are) could in principle lead to a family of nonpleasent compounds. But to be honest, microorganisms--considering the millions of years they've been around--are probably well equipped to degrade proteins on their own, so no base seems to be required.

If you grant me there's no particular chemistry trick to it, that "stink-bomb" is about as creative as a glass of water.
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