Cover art for podcast Chemistry For Your Life

Chemistry For Your Life

171 EpisodesProduced by Melissa and JamWebsite

A podcast helping you understand the chemistry of your everyday life.

171 Episodes | 2019 - 2022

How does Benzoyl Peroxide fight acne?

January 20th, 2022

27:46

#127

If you've ever had acne, you've probably tried some creams or washes with "benzoyl peroxide" somewhere on the label. How is it that this specific …

How do gasses dissolve in liquid? (and other questions)

January 13th, 2022

33:06

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 26

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about fluoride, decaf coffee, …

How is coffee decaffeinated?

January 6th, 2022

40:01

#126

Coffee Part 3! So we all know coffee has caffeine in it. But what if you want your coffee... without the caffeine? Is that as impossible as …

How does caffeine make you not sleepy?

December 30th, 2021

28:25

#059

Ok so, caffeine. Some of us live on the stuff, and others of us want nothing to do with it. There's a lot of things caffeine can do to our bodies, but of course the number one question, is how does it keep the …

Why do tires go flat in the winter?

December 23rd, 2021

20:54

#125

Well you've probably been there. It's the first significantly cold day of the season, and you turn your car on and the tire pressure light comes …

Bonus: Blood in pool water? (and other questions)

December 16th, 2021

23:34

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 25

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about antacids, imposter …

Why do we roast coffee?

December 9th, 2021

28:17

#124

Coffee Part 2! So before we brew coffee, it gets roasted. What is roasting you might ask? Well it's pretty much the stage where all the magic is happening, everything that turns a little fruit seed into a delicious …

Why do leaves change color in the fall?

December 2nd, 2021

33:40

#065 Rebroadcast

It's Fall! You know why they call Fall Fall? Well because the leaves fall. But before that, the leaves change color. Why do they do …

How is brewing coffee chemistry?

November 25th, 2021

41:22

#123

The long overdue cracking open of the door into the chemistry of coffee! First, the chemistry of what happens when you brew coffee. Check it out!

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Fall Mini 07 - Who is and isn't a chemist?

November 18th, 2021

23:20

#122

What makes someone a chemist? At what point does someone become one? Is it a defined line or is it a blurry one? Melissa shares some thoughts, as …

Fall Mini 06 - What is imposter syndrome? (with Vianet Garza)

November 11th, 2021

48:56

#121

This week we have a very special guest, Vianet Garza (LPC). She's going to talk us through something that's common in chemistry, science, and likely every other profession under the sun: imposter syndrome.

Like the …

Fall Mini 05 - Is BPA really that bad for you?

November 4th, 2021

12:28

#120

This week we received an interesting email about BPA from listener and retired chemistry teacher Danny. Let's get into it.

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How to start a podcast.

Green Fire?!

October 31st, 2021

25:05

Rebroadcast #015

This week Melissa and Jam explore a Halloween-themed topic, perfectly-timed for the fact that our episode air date happened to land …

Fall Mini 04 - Icebreakers

October 28th, 2021

26:52

#119

It's time to break some ice.

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How to start a podcast. <- Check this out if you've got a podcast idea you want to make happen!



Find us on Instagram,

Fall Mini 03 - How chemistry revolutionized baking (For Melissa)

October 21st, 2021

13:03

#118

Are you an avid baker? Melissa's baking discovery may be as revolutionary for you as it was for her.

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Fall Mini 02 - The biochemistry of sugar?

October 14th, 2021

9:58

#116

Let's hear more about sugar from the perspective of biochemist, Caibe Alves.

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How to start a podcast. <- Check this out if you've got a podcast …

What is vanilla? (and imitation vanilla?)

September 30th, 2021

34:38

#115

Well we've all had vanilla. And if you have a tongue then you probably like it. But the question we've all wondered each time we're baking something is probably something like, "what is imitation vanilla?" and "how …

How do Tums make us feel better? (And why do they make us burp?)

September 23rd, 2021

26:51

#114

Tums, alka seltzer, and other antacids: they're simple, they've been around for a long time, but they're a tried and true method for helping our stomachs. But how do they work? What's the chemistry behind these …

Bonus: Does elevation affect airbags? (and other questions)

September 20th, 2021

18:37

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 24

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about breathalyzers, high fructose corn syrup, candles, airbags, and more!


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Is there BPA in my receipt? And is that bad?

September 16th, 2021

36:01

#113

What if BPA was in something more ordinary and everywhere than a water bottle? Something seemingly innocent and inconspicuous? Like a receipt? …

What does BPA free really mean?

September 9th, 2021

29:21

#112

Every time you buy a plastic water bottle or something, you probably see a sticker that says "BPA free." Pretty good news right? I mean who knows? But what is BPA? And why did we need to get rid of it? And what did …

How do breathalyzers detect alcohol?

September 2nd, 2021

26:52

#111

How can machines tell how much alcohol is in our blood, simply from checking our breath? Is it magic, or is it chemistry? I think you know the …

What is the ozone layer?

August 26th, 2021

26:01

#110

We've all heard about it. And most likely you've heard that it's in danger. But what is the ozone layer in the first place? And once we learn that, how about figuring out why it's in danger? Ok let's do it.

Like the …

Bonus: How does weed killer not kill grass? (and other questions)

August 23rd, 2021

33:36

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 23

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about sugar, high fructose …

How much urine is in an olympic size swimming pool?

August 19th, 2021

32:19

#109

Well it's no secret. Some people like to make the relaxing, refreshing environment of a pool into a toilet. It's a problem that's probably …

Is high fructose corn syrup bad for you?

August 12th, 2021

41:12

#108

It's got high fructose, it's somehow from corn, and it's in syrup form. What's not to like? Well maybe a lot. Or maybe not. Is it worse than sugar? Is it the same? Let's find out!

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What is in magic erasers? (and should you clean your teeth with them?)

August 5th, 2021

24:07

#107

By now you've already probably experienced the magic of magic erasers. But what IS the magic? How does it erase what other things cannot? And if you don't know what magic erasers are, you'll be impressed.

Like the …

How do candles burn? (and how do you light them with smoke?)

July 29th, 2021

27:27

#106

Candles are simple enough right? Probably nothing crazy going on right? Wrong. Where does all the wax go? And how does the wick just keep on burning so long? Let's find out.

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Chemistry at Home: Candle Magic

July 26th, 2021

5:44

Bonus Episode: Chemistry at Home 15

Here's another bonus episode dedicated to teaching a specific chemistry experiment you can do at home. This month, we see how to light a candle without touching the flame to the wick.



How do batteries power our electronics?

July 22nd, 2021

26:43

#105

Batteries. The mysterious little cylinders that have powered our essentials and fun for decades. How in the world do they work? What's the chemistry that's going on inside, and how does it power our electronics? …

Bonus: How do candy colors not mix? (and other questions)

July 20th, 2021

27:41

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 22

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about dyes, onions, soaps, candies, eggs, salt lamps, cheese, and more!


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What is cheese? And what does it have in common with soap?

July 15th, 2021

26:02

#104

Seriously what the heck is cheese? It's a question we've all wondered, but most of us only ever know that it's from milk—but what else? How do we turn milk into cheese? What's going on at the chemical level? And why …

What is hyaluronic acid and is it magical?

July 8th, 2021

28:49

#103

What do roosters' combs and cows' eyeballs have that our skin needs? Let's add another chapter to the chemistry of skin care. Today we explore a special and unusual acid that has some surprising and unique abilities …

What is benzene and why is it in my sunscreen?

July 1st, 2021

34:25

#102

Well there's more to sunscreen than we thought. Like some super recent not so great info, about something called benzene. This is another example of the unfortunate dark side of chemistry. Check it out and make sure …

Chemistry at home: Elephant's Toothpaste

June 28th, 2021

7:49

Bonus Episode: Chemistry at Home 14

Here's another bonus episode dedicated to teaching a specific chemistry experiment you can do at home. This month, …

How are airbags made of chemicals?

June 24th, 2021

35:44

#101

Ok we all get it, they save our lives, and they aren't just a really good Radiohead song. But HOW? Most of us never even need to experience airbags, which is great. But for those of us who do, how do they do their …

Bonus: Why do bug bites itch? (and other questions)

June 21st, 2021

16:15

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 21

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about bug bites, histamine, jellyfish, hair, coffee, and Harry Potter.


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CHEMISTRY QUIZ

June 17th, 2021

47:33

#100

For episode 100, it's time for a TEST. Jam has been learning chemistry every week for 100 weeks, but what does he know? What does he remember? …

Do anti-aging products work?

June 10th, 2021

39:04

#099

The ads are everywhere. Trying to convince us to buy something to prevent or undo the wrinkles and skin damage that comes with aging. But can those products really do anything for us? Is it even chemistry? Or is it …

What’s the future of antihistamines?

June 3rd, 2021

33:29

#098

Could histamine and antihistamines do more than just affect our allergies? Actually yes. Today we discuss new and recent research in the world of …

Chemistry at Home: Lifesavers in the Dark

May 31st, 2021

11:37

Bonus Episode: Chemistry at Home 13

Here's another bonus episode dedicated to teaching a specific chemistry experiment you can do at home. This month, we see what happens when we crack Lifesaver mints in the dark. Trust …

Why are seasonal allergies the worst?

May 27th, 2021

28:30

#097

Most of us know the feeling. But what are we actually experiencing when we experience allergies? How does being around plants and pollen make us …

Bonus: What color is grass at night? (and other questions)

May 24th, 2021

14:02

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 20

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about color changing markers, …

Why and how do Jellyfish sting?

May 20th, 2021

38:41

#096

What's the chemistry of a jellyfish sting? Why do they feel so different from other stings? And what can we even do when we get stung? And what …

How do Venus flytraps trap flies?

May 13th, 2021

24:29

#095

Venus flytraps: The plants that have fascinated and freaked many of us out since we were kids. How do they do what they do? Most plants just kinda sit there and soak up water and sunlight, but not Venus flytraps. …

What is the smell of fresh cut grass?

May 6th, 2021

21:38

#094

What is that iconic smell? The smell that screams spring and summer? The smell so distinct, and yet so mysterious. Why does freshly cut grass …

Why does american chocolate taste different?

April 29th, 2021

30:44

#093 - Chocolate Part 3 of 3

Now it's time to dive into one of chocolate's biggest mysteries. Which, depending on where you live, has been something …

Chemistry at Home: Chocolate and Gum

April 26th, 2021

9:34

Bonus Episode: Chemistry at Home 12

Here's another bonus episode dedicated to teaching a specific chemistry experiment you can do at home. This month, …

Why does chocolate get that white film on it?

April 22nd, 2021

35:28

#092 - Chocolate Part 2 of 3

You know how when you were a kid, you'd sometimes find some old, forgotten halloween chocolate? But the chocolate would …

Bonus: Do dead leaves smell like tea? (and other questions)

April 19th, 2021

28:03

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 19

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about leaves, labs you can do at home, electrophilic aromatic substitution reactions, pancakes, …

What is chocolate and why is it delicious?

April 15th, 2021

29:36

#091 - Chocolate Part 1 of 3

Well you've probably never heard of chocolate, and you've almost certainly never eaten it. But if you had you might …

Why does cilantro taste horrible? (to some people)

April 8th, 2021

31:24

#090

It's of the most puzzling (and heartbreaking) mysteries. Why does cilantro taste so good to some of us, but taste so bad to others of us? Is it in our heads? Or is there a chemical explanation for it? If so, what is …

What is ebonized wood?

April 1st, 2021

30:13

#089

This question comes from a word-working listener of ours. Ebonized wood is a process that turns wood black... without burning it! But how? What's …

Chemistry at Home: Crayons

March 29th, 2021

10:09

Bonus Episode: Chemistry at Home 11

Here's another bonus episode dedicated to teaching a specific chemistry experiment you can do at home. This month, we see what happens when we combine crayons, paper, and water.

Do you …

How do color changing markers change color?

March 25th, 2021

27:16

#088

Remember those markers that would *magically* change colors when you marked over them with the right marker? Well while it seems very magical, …

Bonus: Does gunpowder explode? (and other questions)

March 22nd, 2021

26:47

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 18

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about gunpowder, our …

What is jam? (and jelly and preserves etc.)

March 18th, 2021

37:35

#087

Jams, jellies, preserves, marmalade. So many kinds of fruit spreads, but how are they made? How do they go from fruit to gooey spread? How are they delicious? What the chemistry here, and how has it been going on …

What and why is maple syrup?

March 11th, 2021

37:35

#086

We all know that maple syrup is one of Canada's most popular gifts to the world, but what really is it? Why do maple trees (and other trees) even …

Why do plants die in freezing weather?

March 4th, 2021

26:17

#085

Well here in Texas, we just suffered through an intense freeze. And many a plant became a casualty of the cold, but why? What's going on at the …

What are muscles and their cramps?

February 25th, 2021

30:41

#084

Wait, muscles are biology right? Well they're also chemistry. And guess what, muscle soreness and cramps are also chemistry. And believe it or …

Extra Special Bonus: Time Warp!

February 23rd, 2021

23:05

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 18

In this month's bonus episode, we share a special old Q&R that we've had in our back pocket for almost a …

How do bath bombs fizz?

February 19th, 2021

26:44

#083

This might be one of the best chances to both listen to AND experience chemistry at the same time. Grab a bath bomb, fill up the tub, and let's find out how these friendly bombs work. How do they fizz up? How do …

Chemistry at Home: Vinegar and Baking Soda (with Stephanie Ryan Ph.D.)

February 15th, 2021

20:06

Bonus Episode: Chemistry at Home 10

We have a very special guest this month, Stephanie Ryan Ph.D. aka @letslearnaboutscience (on Instagram)! Stephanie …

How do sunglasses protect us?

February 11th, 2021

38:54

#082

Wow sunglasses sure are cool. What's the coolest thing about them? Is it how cool they make us look and feel? Or is it the chemistry inside them? …

Why do things fade in the sun?

February 4th, 2021

29:16

#081

The sun. It's nice, it's warm, it helps things grow, it helps us see, it helps us exist in the first place. But it's also a massive burning …

What is a dryer sheet?

January 28th, 2021

43:06

#080

Dryer sheets. They smell good. They make our clothes soft. They get rid of static. But how? How is one little sheet allowed to solve that many …

Chemistry at Home: Pennies

January 25th, 2021

12:36

Bonus Episode: Chemistry at Home 9

Here's another bonus episode dedicated to teaching a specific chemistry experiment you can do at home. This month, we see what happens when we combine salt, vinegar, and pennies?


Do you …

Is glass a liquid?

January 21st, 2021

32:16

#079

Glass. The more you look at it, the more clear it becomes that it holds some serious mysteries. So what really is glass? Is it a liquid? How is …

Bonus: Why does my bread taste like a banana? (and other questions)

January 19th, 2021

13:07

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 17

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about salt, bread that tastes like bananas, sunscreen on fences, AND improvements to our chemistry …

Why do cornstarch and water do that thing?

January 14th, 2021

32:41

#078

It's one of life's most head-scratchy questions, and one of the most popular chemistry mysteries for youtubers. So let's get to the bottom of …

What is iodized salt? And why?

January 7th, 2021

36:08

#077

Who's doing what to our salt? What's iodine, do we need it, why, and how do they get it in there? This week Melissa and Jam dive head first into figurative iodized salt dunes. Let's take a closer look at the …

How do fireworks use chemistry to look awesome?

December 31st, 2020

28:45

#076

Happy New Years Eve! Let's all kiss 2020 a speedy (not speedy enough) goodbye and look at some beautiful exploding lights! And why not look at …

Chemistry at Home: Diapers

December 28th, 2020

16:21

Bonus Episode: Chemistry at Home 8

Here's another bonus episode dedicated to teaching a specific chemistry experiment you can do at home. This month, we see what happens when we experiment with diapers, and the …

What are LEDs and how do they light up?

December 24th, 2020

36:20

#075

Happy holidays, we hope you have a wonderful season whatever you celebrate! We've got a holiday related episode for you: LEDs. Well I guess we …

Bonus: Enzymes eat plastic? (and other questions)

December 21st, 2020

17:55

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 16

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about enzymes that eat …

How do we see our breath in the air?

December 17th, 2020

25:59

#074

This time of year, it's a common occurrence, something so common that we might not even wonder about it anymore. But really, why do we see our …

What is silver tarnish?

December 10th, 2020

21:34

#073

Well if you haven't experienced silver tarnish yourself, then you've almost certainly heard people complain about it. Can anything last? These …

How do odor absorbers work?

December 3rd, 2020

33:42

#072

You know what they say, everyone's experienced odors, and 99.99% of all odors smell. We have room sprays, candles, air fresheners, etc. But how can we absorb or eliminate bad smells? Can chemistry do it? How? Let's …

Chemistry at Home: Leaf Pigments

November 30th, 2020

14:25

Bonus Episode: Chemistry at Home 7

Here's another bonus episode dedicated to teaching a specific chemistry experiment you can do at home. This month, …

What happens to eggs when we cook them? (with Jason Cress)

November 26th, 2020

37:14

#071

It's time to crack into one of life's great mysteries: eggs. So what happens when we cook them?! How do they go from clear goo to white jiggle? This is a question we received long ago, and with topics this serious, …

Bonus: Can equilibrium occur in any state of matter? (and other questions)

November 23rd, 2020

26:53

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 15

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about equilibrium, recycling on a large scale, why leaves fall off, sound effects, and Avatar: The …

How do diapers absorb liquid?

November 19th, 2020

25:21

#070

Ok parents. It's time to explore the chemistry of something we rely on every hour of every day: diapers. What the heck is going on inside there? How do they absorb SO much? Is it magic? Well, settle in and get ready …

How is nail polish chemistry?

November 12th, 2020

27:21

#069

There's this stuff, you've probably heard of it, that you can put on 10-20 specific places on your body, and it stays there, and it can be …

Is science always right?

November 5th, 2020

33:10

#068

This week we issue a correction, joining other science publications issuing the same correction. That's kind of an obvious answer to the question of "Is science always right?" So in this episode we explore that …

How do glowsticks glow?

October 29th, 2020

35:09

#067

Guess what time of year it is. It's spooky time! One thing we see a lot of during this time of year, is things that glow. And you better believe that's chemistry. So how do glowsticks glow? How does bending the …

Chemistry at Home: Cabbage Juice

October 26th, 2020

12:56

Bonus Episode: Chemistry at Home 6

Here's another bonus episode dedicated to teaching a specific chemistry experiment you can do at home. This month, we see what happens when we blend up red cabbage and water, and mix it …

What IS lavender oil?

October 22nd, 2020

39:49

#066

This week we take a teeny tiny step into the vast, intimidating sea of essential oils. Not to worry, we're sticking to the chemistry. And we're exploring one of the smelliest, purply-est ones. Firstly, what is …

Bonus: How do you remove superglue from your fingers? (and other questions)

October 19th, 2020

24:01

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 14

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about buying renewable items, …

Why do leaves change color in the fall?

October 15th, 2020

32:40

#065

It's Fall! You know why they call Fall Fall? Well because the leaves fall. But before that, the leaves change color. Why do they do that? How? Is …

What's the future of recycling?

October 8th, 2020

30:27

#064

Part 3 of 3 on plastic! This week we look to the future. Is there hope to overcome our piles of plastic? What new ways of recycling are coming down the pike? What are those sneaky chemists up to? Can we make better …

Is plastic really recyclable?

October 1st, 2020

36:13

#063

This is part 2 of 3 on plastic, so check out last week's episode if you haven't yet! This week, Melissa and Jam dive into one of the weightiest questions of our day. Is plastic even really recyclable? If so, how is …

Chemistry at Home: Slime

September 28th, 2020

13:12

Bonus Episode: Chemistry at Home 5

Here's another bonus episode dedicated to teaching a specific chemistry experiment you can do at home. This month, …

What is plastic?

September 24th, 2020

31:49

#062

Think about it for a second, plastic is everywhere. What plastic things are around you right now? What plastic things do you use everyday? This week, Melissa and Jam dive right into the proverbial (and sort of …

Bonus: Why doesn’t superglue harden in the tube? (and other questions)

September 21st, 2020

25:42

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 13

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about gasoline, super glue, …

How does super glue glue things?

September 17th, 2020

30:08

#061

Be honest. Have you ever glued yourself with super glue? Everyone should accidentally make that mistake at least once, so you can literally feel …

Why do we use fluoride on our teeth?

September 10th, 2020

29:15

#060

Chances are you've heard the word "fluoride" said in reference to your teeth. At the dentists office, on your bottle of mouthwash, maybe you've heard it's in tap water? But what is it, what's so special about it, …

How does caffeine make you not sleepy?

September 3rd, 2020

27:48

#059

Ok so, caffeine. Some of us live on the stuff, and others of us want nothing to do with it. There's a lot of things caffeine can do to our bodies, but of course the number one question, is how does it keep the …

Chemistry at Home: Density

August 31st, 2020

15:02

Bonus Episode: Chemistry at Home 4

Here's another bonus episode dedicated to teaching a specific chemistry experiment you can do at home. This month, we see what happens when we combine honey, corn syrup, dish soap, …

What makes fruit ripen?

August 27th, 2020

37:33

#058

Fruit. You eat it too early? It tastes bland and tart. You eat it too late? And it's rotten. You eat it when it's ripe? It's perfect, sweet, and juicy. What makes fruit ripen? How is it that supermarkets and …

Bonus: Do mosquitos care about blood-type? (and other questions)

August 24th, 2020

20:48

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 12

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about mosquito repellents, mosquitos and blood type, mosquito saliva, organic chemistry, and some …

What's up with alcohol(s)?

August 20th, 2020

32:40

#057

So we all know what we think of when we hear the word "alcohol," but what if that's not really the whole picture? There's actually many kinds of …

What IS fire? (and what happened in Beirut?)

August 13th, 2020

25:31

#056

Seriously. What is fire? This week Melissa and Jam hop out of the frying pan. What are those warm orange wisps? We all sort of know what fire is but also, do we? It's hot, it can be good, it can be bad. But why does …

What makes honey crystallize?

August 6th, 2020

32:09

#055

Ever notice that honey crystalizes? Isn't that like super weird? Why does it do that? This week, Melissa and Jam risk getting stuck in this question.

Like the show? Buy us a coffee to help keep our show going AND …

What is the future of mosquito repellents?

July 30th, 2020

36:32

#054

This week, Melissa and Jam close out the mosquitos series with part 4 (If you missed the previous three, go check them out). What does the future look like for humans and mosquitos? Can we finally achieve peace? …

Chemistry at Home: Milk and Soap

July 27th, 2020

12:06

Bonus Episode: Chemistry at Home 3

Here's another bonus episode dedicated to teaching a specific chemistry experiment you can do at home. This month, …

What even is DEET?

July 23rd, 2020

37:24

#053

This week, Melissa and Jam continue to part 3 on the topic of mosquitos (If you missed the previous two, go check them out). What is DEET? What part does it play in repelling mosquitos? How do repellants repel …

Bonus: Is rain just like sweat for the earth? (and other questions)

July 20th, 2020

28:08

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 11

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about carbonation, …

Do mosquitos bite some people more than others?

July 16th, 2020

34:02

#052

This week, Melissa and Jam continue the topic of mosquitos (If you missed last week's, listen to it first). It's time to answer the age-old, …

Why do mosquitos bite people?

July 9th, 2020

26:41

#051

This week, Melissa and Jam begin a multi-faceted topic: mosquitos. Now of course mosquitos are insects, so studying them would mostly fall into …

How does sweat cool us down?

July 2nd, 2020

25:09

#050

This week, Melissa and Jam once again look under the armpits of society, this time to explore sweat. Is it cool? Well does it keep us cool? How? …

Chemistry at home: Chromatography

June 29th, 2020

12:15

Bonus Episode: Chemistry at Home 2

Here's another bonus episode dedicated to teaching a specific chemistry experiment you can do at home. This month, we see what happens when we combine markers, coffee filters, and …

What is a calorie?

June 25th, 2020

33:50

#049

This week, Melissa and Jam question the whole system of food. Or rather, the way we calculate food: calories. What are they? Where'd the come …

What makes jalapeños hot, and do they have other super powers?

June 18th, 2020

34:30

#048

This week, Melissa and Jam dive into spiciness. What is it? Is it a flavor? Is it a feeling? Is it both? Is it more? Why can some people handle more than others? Does spiciness have any benefits?

We're proud to …

Bonus: What is Mel's cast iron routine? (and other questions)

June 15th, 2020

21:23

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 10

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about cast iron routines, dyes, activating almonds, and inspirations behind their respective …

What is rust and is it the worst?

June 11th, 2020

33:40

#047

A somewhat natural chemical topic following cast iron: rust. This week, Melissa and Jam explore the chemistry of rust. What even is it? Where …

Are cast iron pans as cool as people say?

May 28th, 2020

39:57

#045

The continuation of the unexpected cookware chemistry saga: cast iron. This week, Melissa and Jam discuss multiple aspects of cast iron …

Chemistry at home: Homemade Lava Lamp

May 25th, 2020

16:25

Bonus Episode: Chemistry at Home 1

What's this, another bonus episode? It's something new we're test driving! A short little extra bonus episode dedicated to teaching a specific chemistry experiment you can do at home. …

Why do diet coke and mentos do that thing?

May 21st, 2020

29:26

#044

You know what we're talking about. That spectacular fizzy geyser. This week, Melissa and Jam explore what makes diet coke and mentos go crazy …

Bonus: My girlfriend's sweat doesn't stink (and other questions)?

May 18th, 2020

30:24

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 9

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about sunlight bleaching, weird feeling soap, sweat and smells, popcorn, and more!

Buy us a coffee!


How do color-changing mugs change color?

May 14th, 2020

31:46

#043

You know how you have that one mug that changes colors when you put hot coffee in it? Let's talk about that. This week, Melissa and Jam explore …

How do deodorant and antiperspirant work?

May 7th, 2020

45:22

#042

What's that smell? Is it us? Is it you? We hope it's neither, thanks to deodorants and antiperspirants. This week, Melissa and Jam delve into the chemistry of this everyday important substance. What are the …

Is it safe to use teflon pans?

April 30th, 2020

30:57

#041

Ok! So now that you know how teflon works (see last week's episode if you missed it), now it's time to discuss the equally important question: is it safe to use?? Are there any potential side-effects to using it? …

Bonus: Do purple carrots have beta carotene (and other questions)?

April 27th, 2020

20:24

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 8

In his month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about carrots, pigments, quinones, thermoses, and unscientific theories about why the sky is blue.

Buy …

What makes nonstick pans not sticky?

April 23rd, 2020

37:36

#040

Who you calling sticky? This week, Melissa and Jam open up another two-part series about nonstick pans, aka teflon. What keeps food from sticking to them? How did scientists figure out how to create it? How can …

How does helium change your voice?

April 16th, 2020

26:08

#039

Part two on the chemistry of helium! Now to the question you've all been wondering, how does helium change your voice? This week, Melissa and Jam explore this mystery, which begs a lot of other questions. What even …

Bonus: Podcast For Your Life - Books for your life

April 15th, 2020

15:31

Don't worry, you didn't click on the wrong podcast. This week Melissa was a guest on another "for your life" podcast: Podcast For Your Life, Jam's original podcast with his friend Jason Cress. So we thought we'd share …

Is there a helium shortage?

April 9th, 2020

38:35

#038

Helium is all fun and games right? High voice, super funny, no worries right? Or is there a serious shortage of helium? This week, Melissa and Jam answer this question. But we can't stop there. This is part one of …

Why does orange juice taste bad after you brush your teeth?

April 2nd, 2020

27:30

#037

It's the lesson we've all had to learn the hard way. The pain our mouths feel when we take a treacherous swig of the post-brush poison. This week, Melissa and Jam delve into all of our childhoods to figure out the …

How does soap kill COVID-19?

March 26th, 2020

33:03

#036

Ok so we've known for awhile how soap works in a general use sense, like how it cleans dishes (see episode 1). But these weird times call for a deeper look at soap. How can it kill a virus? Or more importantly, how …

Why do apples turn brown when you cut them?

March 19th, 2020

27:11

#035

Do you like apples? Ever wonder why they turn brown when you cut them? This week, Melissa and Jam explore this very question. What's going on in these apples? Where does the brown come from? Is it a good or bad …

Bonus: Methane doesn't have a smell (and other questions)?

March 16th, 2020

24:06

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 7

In his month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about methane, bad smells, …

Why is the sky blue but sunsets aren’t?

March 12th, 2020

35:47

#034

This week, Melissa and Jam explore the oldest question in the book. But we're not going to answer it. Just kidding. Why the HECK is the sky blue? …

How do thermoses keep coffee hot?

March 5th, 2020

30:53

#033

That's right, we are sort of talking about coffee this week. Or rather, how to keep it hot. Nowadays we all have some version of a thermos for our coffee, tea, water, or what-have-you. Today Melissa and Jam try to …

How do hand warmers get hot?

February 27th, 2020

34:05

#032

This week, Melissa and Jam investigate reusable hand warmers. How do they get hot? Where does the heat even come from? How do reusable ones even work? Is it real? How can heat just come out of nowhere like that?

Buy …

How does bleach remove color?

February 20th, 2020

33:57

#031

How does bleach bleach stuff? Oh and also, what even is color? This week Melissa and Jam investigate these questions. What's the molecular makeup …

Bonus: Does cold exist (and other questions)?

February 17th, 2020

23:05

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 6

In his month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about cold/cool, water …

Why do bad smells smell bad?

February 13th, 2020

31:24

#030

Melissa and Jam continue to sniff out the chemistry of smell, focusing this week on bad smells. Why are we so good at smelling bad smells? Why do they haunt us at night? Why are some bad smells so strong and long …

How do we smell things?

February 6th, 2020

34:32

#029

What's that smell? This week, Melissa and Jam explore the chemistry of smell. Now a lot of smell science has to do with our physiology and …

What’s really happening when our hair gets damaged?

January 30th, 2020

34:12

#028

This week, Melissa and Jam travel even further down the rabbit hole of hair chemistry. How does our hair get damaged? How do we curl, straighten, …

What gives curly hair its curl?

January 23rd, 2020

27:33

#027

This week, Melissa and Jam dive into the chemistry of something that may not seem like chemistry at first: hair.
Curly hair to be specific. What makes hair curl? Also what is hair in the first place? Why can hair be …

Bonus: Growing crystals, bobby pins, and how should we address the Hulk?

January 20th, 2020

27:47

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 5

In his month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about how to grow crystals, details about snowflake formation, a little tiny bit of discussion about …

What is the taste of carbonated water?

January 16th, 2020

30:36

#026

This week, Melissa and Jam discuss part of an often requested topic: carbonation. Does it have a taste? Like why does carbonated water taste different than flat water? And what is carbonation in the first place? …

The sea is rising? Should I be scared? (with Renee Collini)

January 9th, 2020

36:31

#025

This week, Melissa, Jam, and very special guest Renee Collini (Melissa's sister and climate scientist) delve into the important topic of …

What do rainbows and mirages have in common?

January 2nd, 2020

25:34

#024

This week, Melissa and Jam explore three very different, but related, light phenomena. We'll discuss situations when light can be bent, slowed down, and even broken. It's gonna be lit.

Buy us a coffee!

References from …

How do snowflakes form and look so cool?

December 26th, 2019

28:55

#023

This week, Melissa and Jam explore the wintery chemistry of snowflakes. How do they form? How are they all unique? How do they look so gosh darn …

What are antioxidants and are they even good for you?

December 19th, 2019

30:04

#022

This week, Melissa and Jam explore the chemistry of antioxidants. What are they? Is it just magical stuff they put in sport drinks and workout supplements? Can you find it in snake oil?

Buy us a coffee!

References …

Bonus: Do solar farms kill birds (and other questions)?

December 16th, 2019

19:45

Bonus Episode: Question and Response 4

Welcome to the new home for our Question and Response episodes! This week we respond to comments and questions …

How can sunlight turn into electricity?

December 12th, 2019

30:14

#021

This week, Melissa and Jam explore the chemistry of solar energy. How do we capture energy from the sun and turn it into electricity? Is it as …

Why does water form droplets?

December 5th, 2019

33:02

#020

This week Melissa and Jam explore the chemistry of water and intermolecular forces. Why does it form into droplets? Why can you fill a glass of …

What happens to water in space (and other questions)?

November 28th, 2019

20:08

Question and Response #03

This week Melissa and Jam do the last Question and Response episode. We'll continue to do Questions and Responses every month, but after asking listeners for their preference, Q&Rs will now …

What’s up with foil?

November 21st, 2019

30:03

#018

This week Melissa and Jam explore the chemistry of aluminum foil. Why doesn’t it feel hot when we take it out of the oven? How does it cool down …

Why do foods brown when we cook them?

November 14th, 2019

33:45

#017

This week Melissa and Jam explore some of the chemistry behind cooking. What happens when you sear a steak? What's going on when you toast toast? …

Why do onions make you cry?

November 7th, 2019

32:53

#016

This week Melissa and Jam explore the chemistry of onion tears, the emotional reaction we all have, against our will, when cutting onions. Grab …

Green fire?!

October 31st, 2019

24:01

#015

This week Melissa and Jam explore a Halloween-themed topic, perfectly-timed for the fact that our episode air date happened to land on Halloween …

What makes artificial sweeteners artificial?

October 24th, 2019

27:12

This week Melissa and Jam explore the chemistry of artificial/alternative sweeteners. What are artificial sweeteners? How can something be sweet but not packed with calories? Are we cheating? Did we hack nature when we …

What even is sunscreen and how does it screen the sun?

October 17th, 2019

28:58

This week Melissa and Jam explore the chemistry of not being burned by the big, ominous, flaming ball of radioactive insanity that lights up our skies each day. Did you know that to some people, radiation burns are no …

How do geckos stick to walls?

October 10th, 2019

29:55

This week Melissa and Jam continue in the category of "sticky" things by exploring how geckos stick to walls. How do they do it? Is it magic? Is it …

What's the scientific word for sticky?

October 3rd, 2019

32:19

In this episode, Melissa and Jam explore the complex, but highly familiar and relatable concept of stickiness. It started as a lighthearted question from the end of "Why didn't Jam's pot ever boil?" and turned into its …

You got more questions?

September 26th, 2019

31:23

Question and Response #02

We've received even more questions! Melissa and Jam take more listener questions regarding topics from across the first 9 episodes, attempting to clarify some things and dive a little bit …

Baking soda and baking powder: what’s the difference?

September 19th, 2019

36:13

Baking powder? Baking soda? I mean they're both white powders with the word "baking" in it. How different could they be? Well, one can cause …

Why didn't Jam's pot of water ever boil?

September 12th, 2019

24:15

Remember that one time (in episode 6 "Why do we put lids on pots to boil water") when Jam had a situation where his big pot of water would never …

What the heck is going on inside microwaves?

September 5th, 2019

22:20

Melissa finally explains to Jam how microwaves work after making him wait for an entire week. What the heck is going on inside microwaves? How does it do it's thing and make our food tasty? Is it magic?


Find us on

Why do we put lids on pots to boil water?

August 29th, 2019

21:31

Melissa and Jam discuss the curious habit of putting a lid on a pot in order to boil water. Does it help? Does it speed things up? If so, why?


Find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @ChemForYourLife.
Email us at

You got questions?

August 22nd, 2019

24:57

Question and Response #01

Melissa and Jam take listener questions regarding the topics from episodes 1 and 2, Soap and Specific Heat, attempting to clarify some things and dive a little bit deeper. They also answer some …

What are trans fats and are they evil?

August 15th, 2019

20:54

Continuing the conversation from last week's margarine episode, Melissa and Jam talk about some of the possible unexpected results of hydrogenation, …

What IS margarine anyway?

August 8th, 2019

28:34

Melissa and Jam discuss margarine and what the heck it is, and how it's different from butter, and if it is actually made in the "country" in a "crock" or not.

Find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @ChemForYourLife.

Why are sand and water different temperatures at the beach?

August 1st, 2019

17:04

Melissa and Jam discuss the difference of temperatures, aka specific heat.

Find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @ChemForYourLife.
Email us at chemforyourlife@gmail.com
And check out our chill, simple little website …

How does soap get things clean?

August 1st, 2019

32:22

Today Melissa and Jam talk about the chemistry of soap, and how it does its magical work.

Find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @ChemForYourLife.
Email us at chemforyourlife@gmail.com
And check out our chill, simple …

What is Chemistry For Your Life?

July 9th, 2019

0:36

A new podcast is coming your way. On chemistry for your life, we seek to help you understand the chemistry of everyday life.

Find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @ChemForYourLife.
Email us at

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