Styrofoam and gasoline seem like an unlikely mix, but it is actually a powerful combination that would give you a highly flammable substance or even create a homemade bomb. Although most people know the finished product, they’re unsure of how it comes to be.
You should avoid mixing Styrofoam with gasoline or any other substance that you’re unsure of, as this can lead to an accident. In this guide, we take a look at the Styrofoam and gas mix and how you can dispose of Styrofoam without dissolving it.
JUMP TO TOPIC
- 1 What Happens When You Mix Styrofoam and Gasoline?
- 2 What Are Other Substances Aside From Gas That Can Melt Styrofoam?
- 3 Why Does Styrofoam Dissolve in Gasoline?
- 4 Will Styrofoam and Gasoline Make Napalm?
- 5 Is Mixing Gasoline and Styrofoam Dangerous?
- 6 How Can You Dispose of Styrofoam?
- 7 Is It Toxic to Melt Styrofoam?
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
- 9 Conclusion
What Happens When You Mix Styrofoam and Gasoline?
When you mix Styrofoam and gasoline, the Styrofoam breaks down. Gasoline breaks the molecules in Styrofoam down, making it brittle. The air inside the Styrofoam would escape, leaving you with a sticky substance. Leave it alone to dry, and it will become solid, resembling plastic.
Over time, the gasoline can disintegrate the Styrofoam material. With the right ratio, you would end up with an explosive and sticky substance. If you want your Styrofoam item to last for a long time and remain in good condition, you should store it away from places where you release gas.
Also, keep in mind that mixing Styrofoam with gasoline for an experiment is very dangerous. Avoid doing such experiments at home, and if it’s for a school project, it’s important to do so in a controlled environment with the necessary safety gear like gloves, masks, and overalls.
Styrofoam and gasoline have been used to make homemade bombs, and Napalm B, which is also a dangerous experiment to practice.
What Are Other Substances Aside From Gas That Can Melt Styrofoam?
Other substances aside from gas that can melt Styrofoam include acetone, nail polish remover, vinegar, oils like fish oil, canola oil, olive oil, benzene, and xylene. If you want your Styrofoam product to last, you should keep it away from these products.
Acetone is a solvent that can break down polystyrene molecules, so it is highly effective at melting Styrofoam. If you mix acetone with Styrofoam, it will dissolve in an instant and become liquid.
But acetone is hard to use due to safety concerns and is highly flammable. Ensure you’re fully protected and working in a ventilated area before you mix them.
This might surprise you, but vinegar can also melt Styrofoam easily. It can get rid of the air in Styrofoam. But to use it, you should fill half a Styrofoam container with vinegar, mix it for a bit, and then leave it there for an hour. When you’re back, it must have melted.
Nail Polish Remover
If you don’t have access to acetone, you can consider polish remover. Polish remover is also made with acetone, so you can soak the Styrofoam in it for about 15 minutes. You would have to rinse it and leave it to dry, then repeat this process until you have gotten rid of the Styrofoam.
Esterified oils like canola oil, olive oil, and fish oil are effective in dissolving Styrofoam if you leave it for the right amount of time. Some essential oils can also be used to melt Styrofoam, like Bay, Lemon rinds, Thyme, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary.
These contain volatile organic compounds and volatile hydrocarbons that can dissolve Styrofoam.
Benzene is a liquid chemical that is used to manufacture plastic products, nylon, resins, pesticides, and fibers. It can also be found in detergents, lubricants, dyes, adhesives, cleaning products, and paint strippers. This chemical can also melt Styrofoam, but be super careful when using it as it is highly flammable.
Xylene is a sweet-smelling and colorless hydrocarbon that is highly flammable and toxic to humans. It can be used to dissolve Styrofoam, but you should keep the different safety measures in mind. Some eco-friendly substitutes to it include carrot oil, rose oil, and pine oil.
Why Does Styrofoam Dissolve in Gasoline?
Styrofoam dissolves in gasoline because it shares a similar molecular structure to that of gasoline. Styrofoam (polystyrene) contains high polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are organic compounds that are found in coal, gasoline, and crude oil. Substances with similar molecular structures usually dissolve in each other.
Styrofoam and gasoline have similarities in their molecular structures, along with some kinds of plastic. That’s why it degrades when mixed up with gasoline. When you put Styrofoam into gas, the hydrocarbons interact freely, and the high-energy bonds break so that the single bonds can become more stable.
So when they are in contact, Styrofoam would break down and release the trapped air. It would create a slimy liquid called an amorphous solid material. This is a kind of material that is liquid, but once it is cooled, it becomes solid, like plastic or glass.
If you destroy Styrofoam in gasoline, it will give you a gooey-like substance that looks like glue or melted cheese. But that doesn’t mean it’s safe. This substance would also be highly flammable and can cause an accident if care is not taken.
Will Styrofoam and Gasoline Make Napalm?
Yes, Styrofoam and gasoline will make napalm, which is a flammable liquid that is used in warfare. With the right combination of gasoline and styrofoam, you can end up with a highly flammable liquid that can even burn through metal and poison others.
This is for information alone, and you should avoid mixing both together to make napalm. You can end up injuring yourself or others around you. Keep in mind that if you have a Styrofoam cup or container, it would probably just dissolve in gasoline as the gas would just eat at the glue holding it together, and the container would fall apart.
Napalm can lead to serious burns when it comes in contact with the skin and eventually lead to death in case of excessive exposure. If you come in contact with napalm, you should call the ambulance or visit the emergency room immediately. It’s also important to be aware of the dangers.
In most cases, petroleum jelly and gasoline make up napalm, but Styrofoam and gasoline can still make it with the right combination or at least make a homemade napalm that is similar to it.
Is Mixing Gasoline and Styrofoam Dangerous?
Yes, mixing gasoline and Styrofoam is dangerous. Gas and Styrofoam on their own are already toxic and dangerous materials, and mixing them together can lead to health issues, fire hazards, or you might have a homemade bomb on your hands.
Based on this, you should keep them as far away from each other as possible. If you are storing Styrofoam, ensure that it would not be exposed to gasoline in any way. If you accidentally mix them, you should contact your local waste disposal center to know how you can dispose of them without harming yourself.
Negative Effect on Health
Styrofoam and gasoline can cause various health problems. If you burn Styrofoam, it releases amounts of styrene, carbon monoxide, and toxic chemicals. Breathing in these fumes can lead to different health issues, including blood and kidney problems, depression, fatigue, increased nasal discharge, nausea, vomiting, wheezing, and coughing.
It can also lead to dizziness, headache, irritation in your nose, lungs, and throat, poor muscle control, and weakness. Gasoline vapor also causes a lot of health damage. It can lead to dizziness, headache, fainting, nausea, irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, and in the worst situations, death.
May Create a Firebomb
Also, Styrofoam and gasoline can cause a homemade torch or bomb. With the right ratio of two flammable materials, you might end up with a firebomb. For instance, you can create Napalm or Napalm-B with a combination of Styrofoam and gasoline.
Keep in mind that this is strictly for information, so you shouldn’t attempt to make a firebomb or torch with gasoline and Styrofoam. If you do so, you won’t only hurt yourself and others but can also go to prison.
Napalm B is the successor of napalm, and it consists of gasoline, benzine, and polystyrene, which is what is used to make Styrofoam. Using only gasoline and Styrofoam would give you a makeshift bomb, and this would be very dangerous.
Also, you should not use Styrofoam and gas to make a roof sealant, regardless of what you might have seen online. If this is ignited, it can burn your roof and even your entire house. It can also lead to injury or death.
How Can You Dispose of Styrofoam?
You can dispose of Styrofoam by recycling it, burning it, or composting it. You can also consider using alternatives to Styrofoam because of how difficult it is to dispose of it. Also, avoid mixing Styrofoam with gas to dispose of it, as this is dangerous.
Styrofoam is used to make food containers, cups, and plates, as it is a form of plastic. It is also used for building insulation. There are safer ways to make Styrofoam waste than mixing it with gas.
You can recycle your Styrofoam cups, containers, and plates. Remove the liquid or food that was in the cup or container, and rinse it off. Then, put it in the recycling bin.
Another way to get rid of Styrofoam is to burn it, although this is dangerous. You should only burn it in a safe area and take the necessary precautions. Burning it would lead to chemicals being released into the air.
You can also consider composting Styrofoam. Chop it up into small pieces and then mix it with the compost pile. Although it would take a long time, it would eventually decompose.
The advisable way to get rid of Styrofoam is by recycling it because burning or composting it requires a lot of precautions to keep in mind. Also, recycling is safer for the environment than the other methods.
Is It Toxic to Melt Styrofoam?
Yes, it is toxic to melt Styrofoam. If you melt Styrofoam using gas or fire, it can be extremely toxic. Exposing Styrofoam to heat or acid would trigger a melting process that releases styrene, which is a toxic chemical that is harmful to the human body.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Styrofoam Made With Gas?
No, Styrofoam is not made with gas but is made with styrene, which is a petroleum-based product. The styrene is refined into polystyrene, which is combined with a hydrofluorocarbon agent. This is the extrude and would expand to create a board of foam.
Does Alcohol Melt Styrofoam?
Yes, alcohol does melt Styrofoam, but it would only do so partially. Alcohol is an organic solvent that breaks down Styrofoam, so if you have alcohol, you should not pack it in a Styrofoam pack or container. Also, don’t drink from a Styrofoam container due to the harmful chemicals.
With this guide on Styrofoam and gasoline, you know what happens if you mix these flammable substances together.
Here’s a summary of what this article covered:
- Mixing Styrofoam and gas would break the Styrofoam down into a sticky and flammable substance.
- Other substances like acetone, vinegar, nail polish remover, oils, and xylene can melt Styrofoam.
- Styrofoam melts in gasoline because both materials have a similar molecular structure.
You should avoid mixing gas and Styrofoam together as this can lead to an accident, health issues, or you might have a bomb on your hands.
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