Bleach and Aluminum Foil
Name: Janet L.
Can you tell me why a piece of aluminum foil submerged in household bleach,
covered tightly with plastic wrap and left for six days would turn dull grayish and crumble?
My sixth grade daughter is doing a science project on the effects of bleach, nail polish
remover (with acetone), Windex with ammonia, Coke and mouthwash have on aluminum foil,
penny patinas, rusted iron bar stock, and saltine crackers. The most notable reactions were
with the bleach and ammonia. And she is trying to find out what is causing the reactions.
Aluminum will dissolve in both acids and bases. In the case of ammonia and bleach (do not mix
them together, that reaction product is toxic) the product is going to be a complex aluminum
oxide/hydroxide/chloride depending upon the reaction conditions. This disrupts the integrity
of the foil causing it to fall apart. The gray color is most likely due to the particle size
of the products. If you place aluminum foil in contact with tomato sauce and heat it the
aluminum will also dissolve. It is for this reason that cooking
tomato-containing recipes in aluminum cook ware is not advised.
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Update: June 2012