Date of Award


Degree Type

Bachelors Essay

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Social and Cultural Sciences

First Advisor

Scott Kittsley


The relatively new field of science, colloid chemistry, has risen to become an important addition to man's knowledge of the behavior of matter in the natural world and in the laboratory. Although it can no longer be viewed as a new science, it is still new enough to contain unexplored fields and to intrigue the investigator.

The study of gel formation has been received with interest by chemists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This phenomenon of sudden gel formation instead of the expected crystalline precipitate while extracting with alcohol was encountered often in experimental work.

The inquisitive mind would enhance investigation; and so it was that a use of alcohol gel, commonly termed "solid alcohol", came into prominence. The nature of alcohol itself suggests inflammability, rapid evaporation, and superior penetrating action for cleansing and medicinal preparations.

This solid form of alcohol was unique. The addition of a small amount of solidifying agent such as soap, calcium acetate, or sodium benzoate, cause the entire liquid content of alcohol to set to a solid mass.

And what of the physical and chemical nature of these gels? Much theorizing has been done attacking the problem from the point of view of the alcohol itself and, also, the gelling agent.

The project at hand is an opportunity to learn. No definite conclusion has previously been state to explain these false gels. The field of "solid alcohol" is waiting for extension and further research. Higher chain alcohols and various gelling agents will be employed experimentally as the results presented.

Included in

Chemistry Commons