Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reviews of things that suck: KCl


OK, SO! My ex was deeply offended when I stated that I did not like the salt free ketchup. I now know why.

Instead of salt, the ketchup uses a substitute: Potassium Chloride. Innocuous, food safe, but dangerous if you're on a potassium sparing diuretic. I'm not. My blood pressure stays just fine unaided (even on a CNS stimulant like Adderall), but, for kicks and because, I don't have very many salts of potassium, it was a cheap addition to my reagents collection (and I'm ALL about the cheap right now!) so, I decided to do a little taste test this morning. This strongly reaffirmed my belief that the addition of KCl to ANYTHING will render it unfit for human consumption.

OK, so, in my usual spice/seasoning tasting procedure, I shook out a small amount onto my hand. The crystals were just as cubic as our friendly NaCl salt that we all know and LOVE ♥. That, my dear friends, is where the similarity ends.

I wet my index finger, dipped it in the small pile to pick up a few crystals. I then placed my finger in my mouth and onto my tongue. For about the first 10ms it was kind of like salt, then it hit, an acrid, cloying, and gag inducing sensation of, "OH MY GOD, SOMETHING IS SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH this substance in my mouth" Yes, I gagged. Yes, my eyes squeezed down tight and my feeble brain tried to process this horror-inducing sensation in my mouth. I swallowed. The small amount won't actually hurt me, WILL IT? No, I'm reasonably sure it won't. The aftertaste, an impossible to describe, somewhat bitter, medicinal aftertaste permeated my mouth. If I didn't do something quick to neutralize the horror building in my mouth, I was sure to lose my breakfast. I grabbed the nearest drink. A freshly poured glass of cola, and chugged it down, to remove the ionic nightmare from my mouth.

I will never EVER ingest such a vile substance again. Into the reagent cabinet it goes, never to soil another morsel of food ever again.

  • It won't raise your blood pressure
  • I'm sure it would be just as neat as sodium chloride for growing pretty cubic crystals
  • It looks just like salt
  • Has a nifty warning to consult your physician before using any sort of salt substitute
  • Makes a fine addition to my reagents. I don't have any potassium compounds, and now I do
  • An excellent source of potassium.
  • A great way to pull cruel pranks on unknowing friends when they go to salt up their delicious fries.
  • May induce vomiting
  • Looks can be deceiving. It looks like salt, it shakes like salt, but unlike salt, it tests your gag reflex. 
  • It might kill you if you are on certain medications for the blood pressure you're watching so closely.
  • It's not iodized like sodium chloride. Your thyroid will be angry. 
  • It has a highly disagreeable medicinal aftertaste that will leave you wishing you were dead. 
In short. It looks great on paper, but the reality is it isn't the real thing, and it's not really a substitute. If you're watching your blood pressure, you're probably much better off either going really easy on the NaCl salt, or just skipping the salt all-together. Most food already has enough salt already, so leaving a bit off will leave you better off. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

An update -- What is happening, projects, and stuff...

So, I discovered Monday that I'm no longer employed; that's always fun. On the bright side, it's an opportunity to find work closer to me, and possibly better pay.

I at one point started the design for a CPU, it's still in the back of my mind, and I'll get back to it.... eventually. And, I'm currently having a bit of fun trying to figure out how to separate copper sulfate from what appears to be a binder to keep it from crystallizing out of the solution. It's this that I want to talk about.

So, I picked up a bottle of algaecide at a store because it contained copper sulfate. I immediately knew something wasn't quite right, because the solution was green, rather than the characteristic blue that copper sulfate has. So, I looked on the ingredients, and most of the contents of the bottle are "stabilizers", polyacrylate, and another chemical that's escaping my memory at the moment. I went ahead and attempted to drive off the water, and see what happens. What I wound up with was essentially a useless green goo that smelled similar to something I had played around with as a kid, friendly plastic. I've given up on this being a useful form of copper sulfate to work with, the goo binds everything, I had a little luck with acetone, but the yield made it pointless.

There's a lesson here: If you're an amateur chemist looking for copper sulfate to grow blue crystals, buy the root killer stuff. It's already crystalline, and doesn't have the binders.