Bleaching wool

1. A glass jar or a transparent container
2. A scrap of wool fabric
3. Half cup of chlorine bleach (Warning: Direct contact with this chemical can be harmful)

1. At first combine the piece of wool fabric and chlorine bleach in the glass jar or the transparent container. If the liquid isn’t enough to cover the whole piece of fabric then add some fresh water in the glass jar.
2. Now wait 5 minutes.
3. After 5 minutes observe or examine the piece of fabric from the outside of the jar. But do not touch the wool piece.
4. Record or write down your observation.

The bleach turned the piece of wool into a kind of yellow slimy thing instead of turning the wool white!

Chlorine bleach is a very strong base. When bleach reacts with fibers such as cotton, it bleaches very well. Bleach turns almost any color white eventually. Depending on the structure of the chemical it varies the amount of bleach used in this process. Cotton bleaches very well because actually both cotton and bleach are on the same basic side of the pH scale. But wool is an acidic fiber. When wool is combined with bleach a special kind of chemical reaction occurs. This chemical reaction is called neutralization reaction. So eventually the result is that the bleach dissolves wool into something yellow and slimy or more specifically bleach turns wool into a kind of yellow goo!

When wool is commercially prepared, it is prepared in a variety of ways to make bleaching possible. For example: wool is soaked in acid before and also after the bleaching process. The extra acid helps neutralize the pH and prevents bleach from dissolving wool.

(DANGER WARNING: You should never combine an acidic liquid with chlorine bleach. Because this could release some potentially dangerous gases in the chemical reaction which would be fatal for you.)

  1. Use cotton instead of wool in this experiment to see if it gets bleached or not and how it gets bleached.
  2. Use different kinds of clothes in this experiment instead of wool to see what happens.
  3. Human hair is also acidic. So use human hair instead of wool in this experiment to see how it reacts to the chlorine bleach.
  4. You can also use dog and cat hair in this experiment!


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