Chemistry In Our Daily Lives

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Chemistry is everywhere, from the foods we eat, to the toothpaste we use, in our cars, medicine and in our own body naturally. Chemistry has a huge part in daily life and in things that you wouldn’t even think of; chemistry defines the very building blocks of all life.

Chemical reactions happen all around us:

Everything we eat, chemistry is both used in the making of the product and when we digest it, digestion relies on chemical reactions between the food, hydrochloric acids and enzymes in our stomach to break down molecules into nutrients the body can absorb and use for energy. Our body has at least 60 elements detectable in them, even gold, in an average person, about 0.0000002kg (2×10−7), which doesn’t seem like much but it’s still definitely there!

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The nervous system is a complex collection of nerves and specialized cells known as neurons use chemical reactions to transmit signals between different parts of the body. It is essentially the body's electrical wiring. In our immune system, our white blood cells ( also called leukocytes are constantly flowing through our veins looking for threats with something called T-lymphocytes from the thymus, (a small gland between our lungs) to multiply and destroy them, while B- lymphocytes remember the chemical code of the virus, parasite and or bacteria to help alert them when they attack again.

In soap, hydrophilic molecules, which are attracted to water, and hydrophobic molecules, which cling to oils on the skin or surface, work both together and against each other to cleanse your body or other surfaces - it causes drops of grease and dirt to be pulled off and suspended in water.

We use chemistry in our transportation. The process of converting gasoline into motion is called 'internal combustion.' Internal combustion engines use small, controlled explosions to generate the power needed to move your car all the places it needs to go; if you create an explosion in a tiny, enclosed space, such as a piston in an engine, a huge amount of energy is released as expanding gas. A typical car engine creates such explosions hundreds of times per minute. The engine harnesses the energy and uses it to propel your car. The explosions happen over and over again which forces pistons in the engine to create movement. Car engines use a four-stroke combustion cycle. The four strokes are intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust. The strokes are repeated over and over, generating power

Petroleum Products

Petroleum products are materials derived from crude oil (petroleum) and is processed in oil refineries. Crude oil is the term for unprocessed oils from the ground or under our oceans. Petroleum products are complex mixtures, which includes several different fuels, ranging from gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, heating oil, and other heavier fuel oils, fractions can also be used to produce asphalt, tar, paraffin wax, lubricating and other oils of that nature. Refineries also produce other chemicals, some of which are used to produce plastics and other useful materials. Carbon, in the form of petroleum coke and hydrogen, can also be produced in petroleum products. Petroleum usually contains a small amount of sulfur molecules, and is also sometimes used in petroleum products. The hydrogen produced is often used as an in-between product for other oil refinery processes, like hydrocracking and hydrodesulfurization.

Fractional distillation is a process by which individual elements, or a substance/compound can be separated using heat. The boiling points of each substance in the solution determine the order of separation. Common uses of fractional distillation include the production of distilled water and gasoline from crude oil. This process is used to separate hydrocarbons for them to be useful and create even plastics and other petroleum products.

Fossil Fuels, The Greenhouse Effect and Climate Change

Since the Industrial Revolution, we have utilized oil, coal, and natural gases, carbon and other remains of past living animals in the ground from millions of years ago. Burning these fossil fuels give us many useful things in this day and age, but producing such is pushing more carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

Before the Industrial Revolution, the carbon dioxide in the air was about .28%, quite a small amount compared to the oxygen at 21% and Nitrogen at 78%, but that .28% is enough to keep us warm and support life on the planet. The carbon dioxide that is released into the air from burning fossil fuels adds to the existing levels, which are now over 50% higher than pre-Industrial times.

Even though we get lots of heat from the sun during the day, the temperatures usually drop at night and in the colder seasons, keeping the Earth’s temperature constant. But as humans add more carbon into the air, the extra layer now in the atmosphere traps excess heat and it takes longer for the gases to escape, causing global consequences and dangers for life.

Some people may thing other living things add to the carbon in the air from breathing. But the carbon in their breath is more from the food they eat, which is either other animals or plants, which actually take from the carbon in the air, keeping the carbon levels stable, this is called the Carbon Cycle. Even burning wood hardly contributes to the greenhouse effect, as long as the trees used are replanted.

Though the carbon in fossil fuels has been trapped underground for hundreds of million of years, burning this adds greatly to the carbon levels, while also throwing out other gases like extra methane , and nitrous oxide from car exhausts into the atmosphere to enhance the greenhouse effect and infra-red radiation.

This rise in temperature causes our climate to change. Ensuing large glaciers and our ice caps to melt, also causing more extreme weather like heavy storms, floods and droughts. But not everywhere will get warmer, but we will eventually either burn through layers in most areas in our atmosphere or get too hot for life to be sustainable from our ever increasing rate of fossil fuel use.

Alternative and Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is a source of power using the elements of Earth or the sun, realistically never running out and being infinite sources; Wind, Geothermal, Hydroelectricity, and of course Solar are all renewable energy sources, Nuclear however, while technically a renewable on its own, the resources and materials used to build and maintain the powerplants are not environmentally friendly or renewable.

Renewable Sources


Solar power is the conversion of energy from sunlight into usable electricity, either directly using photovoltaics, or using concentrated solar power, or a combination. Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors creating a layered circle over a large area for sunlight to focus on one point on a tower in the middle.


Wind power is the use of air flow through wind turbines to provide force to turn electric generators and create electricity. Wind power is a sustainable and renewable alternative to burning fossil fuels, and has much less effect on the environment, though wind farms take up a huge amount of land, but some wind farms are build on shores and in the sea.


Geothermal energy is thermal energy of heat generated deep in the Earth’s crust and core. Thermal energy is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. This energy comes from when the planted was formed, and also from radioactive decay of materials. It's clean and sustainable. Geothermal energy has many sources, the shallow ground to hot water and rock found a few miles beneath the Earth's surface, Tectonic boundaries, deep in the ocean, near volcanoes and even down deeper where magma lives, generating massive amounts of heat.


Nuclear power is the use of atomic reactions that release nuclear energy and heat, which most used in steam turbines to produce electricity in the power plant. Nuclear power can be obtained from nuclear fission, nuclear decay and nuclear fusion reactions.

Nuclear energy comes from splitting atoms in a reactor to heat water into steam, turn a turbine and generate electricity without carbon emissions, because reactors use uranium, not fossil fuels. Nuclear power is also used in space exploring, sterilizes medical equipment and provides radioisotopes for cancer treatment and so much more. Nuclear energy is relatively safe, but needs a lot of maintenance to keep in good working condition so the chances of failure is very low.


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  3. Science, L. (2019). Immune System: Diseases, Disorders & Function. [online] Live Science. Available at: [Accessed 4 Jul. 2019].
  4. (2019). Soap - how does it get things clean?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Jul. 2019].
  5. (2019). How Does an Engine Work?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Jul. 2019].
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  7. (2019). Petroleum product. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Jul. 2019].
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Chemistry In Our Daily Lives. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 12, 2024, from
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