• Styrofoam Cups and Acetone Experiment

    To find the procedure for this experiment click here. 


    How Does It Work?

    Styrofoam is actually a common name for a material called polystyrene, which is a polymer made up of a long chain of molecules.  The acetone is a solvent that easily breaks down the polystyrene, releasing the little air pockets trapped inside and leaving very little residue at the end. In other words, the polystyrene dissolves in the acetone.

    As a science teacher, science enthusiast, or an environmentalist, you are aware of the bad effects that styrofoam has on our environment and the space that it takes up in landfills. So why not just use acetone to dissolve waste polystyrene? Problem solved, right? Not quite, since the acetone presents its own environmental and energy consumption issues.


    Spangler, S. (2015). Vanishing Styrofoam Cups. Steve Spangler Science. Retrieved from https://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/vanishing-styrofoam/.

Last Modified on September 9, 2020