Can superabsorbent polymer crystals absorb any other liquids besides water?
What liquids other then water if any will a hydrogel superabsorbent polymer absorb?
A hydrogel crystal (sometimes called a "disappearing crystal," "water crystal," or "superabsorbent gel,") is a long chain of molecules bonded together to form a superabsorbent polymer that does not dissolve, but forms a gel when placed in water. It is often used in gardening, landscaping, and farming as a way of retaining moisture. The crystal is made up almost entirely of water. As the crystals dry, water is slowly released to the soil. Some of these crystals can soak up as much as 500 times their weight in water! This superabsorbent characteristic makes hydrogel crystals useful in solving water conservation issues.
Therefore, we did an experiment to prove: determine if this crystal can absorb other liquids by adding them to orange juice, vegetable oil, milk, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, and club soda.
Hydrogel superabsorbent crystals
8 oz clear plastic cups
75% to 95% rubbing alcohol
- Using a measuring cup pour 4 ounces of orange juice, vegetable oil, milk, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, club soda, and distilled water into clear plastic cups.
- Place one or two crystals in each liquid. The crystals will begin to grow immediately.
- Observe what happens to the crystals after 30 minutes, 1 hour, and 1 ½ hours.
- Allow the crystals to grow to a point where they cannot be seen clearly inside the cup.
- Measure the liquid left in each cup by poring the residue liquid into a measuring cup, using a stranger or paper filter to catch the crystals.
- Determine how much liquid is left after crystal absorption by subtracting the amount of liquid poured in the measuring cup from 4 ounces.
Hydrogel crystal polymers can absorb other aqueous liquids. This is especially true if water is present in the liquids, as in the case of orange juice, milk, white vinegar, and club soda. There will be little to no absorption or crystal swelling in the vegetable oil or rubbing alcohol.