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Li'l Johnny

Science brain teasers require understanding of the physical or biological world and the laws that govern it.


Puzzle ID:#38592
Fun:*** (2.45)
Difficulty:*** (2.3)
Submitted By:Hrsemn4Aus****
Corrected By:Winner4600




There's a cute rhyme that chemists often quote:

"Li'l Johnny was a chemist,
But Johnny ain't no more,
'Cause what he thought was H2O,
Was H2SO4!"

Let's assume Johnny is a little smarter and knows H2SO4 as sulfuric acid. He wants to neutralize it. He calls a chemist friend on his cell phone, but the reception is bad. Johnny is able to make out the words "soda" and "lime". Always the impetuous one, Johnny purchases an amount of Diet Coke with Lime equal to the amount of sulfuric acid he wants to neutralize. Johnny's misadventure ends with a bad chemical burn.

Why didn't the soda and lime work?


What Johnny's friend tried to tell him was that he could use "caustic soda", otherwise known as sodium hydroxide, which would result in aqueous sodium sulfate.

Johnny could also have used lime - the MINERAL lime - which when combined with sulfuric acid can create gypsum.


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Oct 08, 2007

haha! i knew about the caustic soda but i didn't know about the lime...
Oct 13, 2007

I guessed the lime but didn't know about the soda. Good teaser!
Nov 12, 2007

I guessed the lime but not the soda. Thanks!
Dec 30, 2007

poor lil johnny
Jan 15, 2008

Nice one.
Jun 14, 2008

tsk, tsk Johnny...that's why we don't play with chemicals when we don't understand acid-base reactions!
Great teaser
Mar 09, 2011

who doesnt know that soda lime is caustic soda plus lime, i.e. sodium hydroxide plus calcium oxide. Li'l Johnny must have been VERY little because this is standard chemistry.
Apr 02, 2015

You can be rest assured it wasn't me on the phone. I would call it sodium hydroxide and calcium oxide...

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