Building Made of Glass: US Botanic Garden

What chemicals clean glass?

by Rain Brown

I smell the strong cleaning chemicals. I touch the wet glass. I hear them cleaning the glass. My hands start to smell. The glass is so shiny after it's clean. Why?

At the Botanic Garden they have a conservatory which has plants. The conservatory is made out of all glass.

The process of cleaning glass is long. Dirt is made of dirt particles, bacteria and grease molecules. Stearic Acid found in animal fat in high heat the fatty acid melts.You can try to use water but it won’t help. Hydropohbic repels water, stearic acid doesn’t want to dissolve in water. Water can’t dissolve it. H2O is a polar molecule with a slightly negative and slightly positive side. Stearic Acid is neutral. If the stearic acid molecule gives up one proton, the nucleus in the very center of this hydrogen atom, at the end, it will become negatively charged which will make it double. H2O wants the proton but its too weak to pull it off NH3 is going to do what H2O can’t. Ammonia is a stronger proton grabber it’s attracted to protons.It pulls the proton.The Stearic Acid molecule can’t hold onto the proton and lets it go, or as chemists say, donates the proton.

Here’s what happens after the deprotonation. The Stearic Acid molecules become stearates, stearic acids in salt form, that have a negative charge. As they’re mobbed by the H2O molecules, the stearates start to dissolve into the water in the form of micelles, which look a little like a dandelion puffballs. They still do, they’re on the inside of the micelles.

The negatively-charged bits newly-made from that one part of the molecule are not hydrophobic, they are on the outside. The mass of greasy dirt is soon broken into bits, dispersed in the ammonia water, ready to be poured out.

Cleaning the glass at the Botanic Garden is important. It’s important because the plants won’t get any sun if the glass is dirty. That will kill the plants. Next time you’re at the Botanic Garden remember my project dealing with ammonia.


Flammable: Easily set on fire

Ammonia: A colorless gas with a characteristic pungent smell.It dissolves in water to give a strongly alkaline solution.

Solvent:The component of a solution that is present in the greatest amount. Also it is a substance in which the solute is dissolved.

Ammonium Hydroxide:Is the hydroxyl salt of ammonium ion. Also a colorless solution.