The Chemistry of Toilet Paper

Introduction

Toilet paper is very interesting and you use it everyday, at least I do. Some use it to wipe, blow your nose, clean up a mess, etc. The reason I chose to do toilet paper is weird. (Skip this part please) In the month of May, the 12th day(two days before due day) on the 12th hour, 31st minute I needed to use the bathroom at my house. I get done doing my “dooties” and it is time to wipe. I grab some 2-ply toilet paper and it hit me like a dodgeball! BOOM! You are going to do the chemistry of toilet paper.

Composition of ...

First off to make toilet paper, you need a place to make it and the materials needed. At the big factories they have everything. Most factories that produce toilet paper use recycled paper. They dump tons of recycled paper into a big bin with blades to chop it up. After it is at a reasonable size, they add warm water and, to remove ink, they push air through and it pushes it up to the top. After that, they add some bleach to not only disinfect it, but to make it whiter. Then it gets pushed through rollers to get the gross, wet water out of it. Factory workers push it onto a 65 inch, flat surface and let it dry. It dries and they chop off the top layer of ink. After, it gets the nice embroidery we see today. Eventually it makes it onto a roll and wrapped up in a plastic package, sealed off for you to use.

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

The three main parts of the process of getting toilet paper from the factory to your house are...

Paper

The paper that is used is made from the bark of trees. Cellulose is found in the bark and it has strong fibers in to keep your tissue from clumping and to form pulp. Calcium Carbonate is added to build strength for the cellulose fibers to cling to.

Cellulose - 6 Carbons + 10 Hydrogens + 5 Oxygens  C6H10O5

Calcium Carbonate - Calcium + Carbon + 3 Oxygen  CaCO3

Cardboard

Cardboard is primarily made of cellulose and sulfur. Sulfur is a terrible smelling, yellow powder in its regular state.

Cellulose  - 6 Carbons + 10 Hydrogens + 5 Oxygens  C6H10O5

Sulfur - Sulfur = S

Plastic Packaging

Plastic is made of polyethylene. Polyethylene takes a while to decompose in landfills, that is why it is suggested to recycle it, typically taking 5-10 years.

Polyethylene - Carbon + 2 Hydrogens  CH2


Chemistry's Role

The cellulose in paper and cardboard is naturally occurring in trees, where they get it. They strip bark and turn it into paper. Plastic, however is made by man. They make it in factories just like toilet paper but a much more complicated process. These companies have scientist that study chemistry and know how to convert moles to grams and grams to moles so they can get the exact amounts they need for the process.

Resources


About the Author
Miguel Marquez is pretty nice. He enjoys everything technical and loves athletics. He likes to play football, wrestle and do track. He sleeps in several of his classes everyday. Miguel works at Harbor Freight Tools and has two dogs. His is named Chino. When he gets older he wants to go to Bozeman and study engineering because he sees himself doing something with it when he gets old.
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