The Chemistry of Money


The topic I chose was the chemistry of money. Everyone around the world has had experience with money. It is how we are able to survive. We buy things with it, we gamble it and trade it. The actual making of money and how it affects your brain is exactly what this website will be discussing. I chose this topic because money is known by everyone, but not everyone knows what is really in it and how even the sight of money can affect us so much in our life. One way money affects your life is it can change your brain chemistry. When you are use to having so much money you may not want to share, which leads to greed. Money can make you do some pretty stupid stuff. For example, if you and your friend are fighting about who owes money to who, your friendship will no longer be good and accidents can happen. Money really does affect your life. If you don't have enough money you could be living on the streets hungry. Diving in deeper to the composition of money shows how that simplest elements, such as cotton, can determine how your life is going to be.

Composition of ...

Money itself is made of cotton fibers (94%) and linen. Cotton doesn't have a chemical formula but it is mostly Cellulose (C6H10O5). There also contains small amounts aluminum chloride (ALCL3), and polyamide epichlorohydrin (CLCH2CH(OH)CH2CL). The process to make money uses a mixed of chemicals. The main ingredient is polyvinyl alcohol (C2H4O). This chemical is white, odorless and used in making money. The main gas used is Polypropylene (CH2=CHCH3). There is also a chemical component that happens in your brain when money is involved. It is called Dopamine (C8H11NO2). Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that makes you feel good when you do something. More explanation on Dopamine will be explained further down the website.

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

The main ingredient that is super important in the composition of money is the cotton fibers. Again, cotton doesn't have a chemical formula but it is mostly Cellulose (C6H10O5). Next is Dopamine, which is in the brain, located in the frontal lobes and is released when you get pleasure from anything. An interesting fact about dopamine is that i we didn't get dopamine from eating we would never eat. Crazy right! Also activity in the brain with money is the same as someone addicted to cocaine. This shows just how important the role of dopamine plays when we deal with money.

Chemistry's Role

Money is made from red and blue cotton fibers that give the currency its texture, this is one of the ways that you can tell if the money is real or fake.

When you try to photocopy a $100 bill the threads used to make the security thread show up in transmitted light and looks red when you put an ultraviolet light to it. Yes, our currency is man-made. 94% of our currency is made cotton fiber. It is printed by the government and is made from a classified recipe. When dealing with money, whether through spending it or negotiating, you get a sense of pleasure. The chemical that gives you this feeling is dopamine. Just seeing or feeling money can release this chemical. Dopamine is also called the “reward chemical” because whenever you feel good dopamine is your reward so you can feel good. It is located in the frontal lobes of the brain.

Background Research

The main ingredients in money all around the world:

    • Polypropylene
    • coins atoms
    • cotton fibre
    • Gelatin
    • polyvinyl alcohol
    • polyamide epichlorohydrin
    • aluminum chloride
    • melamine formaldehyde resin
    • nucleus accumbens
    • Dopamine
  • prefrontal cortex




About the Author

Shelbi Sullivan is a senior at Billings Senior high school. She is the youngest of three and loves it. She likes to go for hikes and be outside mostly in the summer. Through her high school years she was involved in Speech and Debate and lettered. She says it was probably the best thing she ever did in school. She in interested in law and will be attending the University of Montana to pursue this interest.