The Chemistry of Birkenstocks

Introduction

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Birkenstocks are a a very comfortable and popular sandal. They are a high quality sandal that is built for your foot and your foot only. Birkenstocks are a one of a kind sandal that you can customize yourself.  I chose to do the chemistry of Birkenstocks because I was curious about the durability of the sandal. Birkenstocks are hands down my favorite shoe and I thought it would be a very interesting. Birkenstocks are very beneficial to a person's life, specifically their feet. Feet benefit from free movement and circulation in your feet. They are a long lasting shoe that saves not only money but your feet.


 
Composition of ...


Footbed:

  • cork= C123H182O56N
  • latex=C3H3N
  • jute=ONa+H2O
  • PPT= couldn’t find
  • EVA= ethylene–vinyl acetate
  • Birko-cell Foam=CO2

Upper Materials:

  • leather=C9H18O4Cl3P


Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

Cork: cork= C123H182O56N
provides the orthopedic contours which makes it comfortable. Cork is light, and shock-absorbent. Cork comes from the bark of cork oak trees that grow in Spain and Portugal. The cork used in Birkenstock shoes is a by-product of the bottling industry. After harvest, the cork bark is cut into bottle stoppers, and then remaining scraps go into making the footbed of birkenstocks.

.7% ash
15.3% total extractives
38.6% suberin
21.7% lignin
21.7% polysaccharides

Leather: leather=C9H18O4Cl3P
Made out of Cowhide. Animal skins are made into leather in an eight steps. Step 1 - Unhairing The animal skins Step 2 - Liming The hairless skin is immersed in a solution of alkali and sulphide to complete the removal of the hair and to alter the properties of the skin protein .Step 3 - Deliming and Bateing Step 4 - Pickling which is when the skins are then treated with acid for preservation  5 - Tanning. Step 6 - Neutralising, Dyeing and Fatliquoring Step 7 - Drying Step 8 - Finishing

Made up of Five amino acids
26.8% Glycine of total nitrogen
8% Alanine
9% Proline
8% hydroxy proline

Chemistry's Role

Cork
Cork is a natural, non-man made substance used for the footbed of Birkenstocks
  • Cork oaks are harvested every nine years.  Most cork forests are in Portugal and Spain.
  • The cork is taken from the tree bark. The bark will then start to regrow for the next harvest.
  • The harvested cork planks are stored before processing in concrete rooms. Before processing, the cork planks are put on pallets.
  • Then they are ready for boiling. the water is cleaned, filtered and replenished regularly.
  • Next the planks are graded and cut into workable pieces.Some will be used for punching natural corks out of; others will be used to make the footbed of birkenstocks. 
Leather
Made out of Cowhide. Animal skins are also natural non-man made materials.
  • Step 1 - Unhairing The animal skins
  • Step 2 - Liming The hairless skin is immersed in a solution of alkali and sulphide to complete the removal of the hair and to alter the properties of the skin protein .
  • Step 3 - Deliming and Bateing
  • Step 4 - Pickling which is when the skins are then treated with acid for preservation
  • Step 5 - Tanning.
  • Step 6 - Neutralising, Dyeing and Fatliquoring
  • Step 7 - Drying
  • Step 8 - Finishing

Background Research

  • Birkenstocks are not natural, they are a man made object

  • High quality materials are durable, comfortable, and long lasting.

  • There is a soft, anatomically shaped cork latex core between the two jute layers. Layering these together along with the suede leather lining ensures an optimum climate for your feet and unsurpassed wearing comfort.

  • Then the leather straps are placed onto the footbed and the Birkenstock comes together to ensure maximum comfort for your feet.


Resources

  https://www.birkenstockusa.com/about/green-steps

Main Components of Birkenstocks


 http://www.birkenstockexpress.com/FAQs/material-info.cfm

    Materials of the footbed and upper materials


http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00386015

Chemical composition of cork


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latex

Chemical Composition of Latex


http://jute.org/composition.htm

Chemical composition of Jute


http://nzic.org.nz/ChemProcesses/animal/5C.pdf

Chemical Composition of leather


                     https://www.birkenstock.co.uk/Customer-Services/Construction/

How Birkenstocks are made



About the Author

Shannon O’Brien is a senior at Billings Senior High School. She enjoys both math and science. She is apart of a unique program at senior called STEM society, which deals with subjects like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. She is also a member of the National Honors Society and Senior Advocates. Shannon enjoys hanging out with her friends, going to movies, hiking, and skiing. Like most girls Shannon loves shoes, especially Birkenstocks. She believes they are the best sandal known to mankind. Shannon plans to attend Montana State University Billings for two years and then move on to the University of Great Falls to major in health and human performance. Shannon is very excited for the coming years and believes she will do well with all the knowledge she gained from Senior the past four years.
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