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Each day, you probably use multiple things invented by a chemist you might not even realize.
Obviously, I am partial to chemists because I am one too, but they have truly shaped the world with their inventions, ideas, and products.
What I find really fascinating is many of these inventions were by pure accident or even intended for something else.
These are my favorite things invented by chemists:
One. Cocoa Powder
I am starting with this one because it is by far one of the coolest chemistry inventions. When I had to choose a topic for my senior research project in college, I chose chocolate because the chemistry was fascinating and highly intricate. Then I learned a chemist invented cocoa powder!
Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten created dutched process cocoa powder by removing the cocoa butter and adding alkaline salts. Read more about cocoa powder here.
Two. Hydrogen Peroxide
If you own our book, this is a fact you know too. It was invented, well discovered, by French chemist Louis Jacques Thénard in 1818.
Three. Chemex Coffeemaker
In 1941, the first Chemex was made by a German chemist/inventor named Peter Schlumbohm. This didn’t necessarily change the world, but it sure did change the world of coffee : )
While he didn’t invent it, German chemist Ferdinand Runge was the first to isolate caffeine in 1819. In 1821, more scientists identified caffeine including French chemist Pierre Jean Robiquet.
Five. Blue Jean Dye
Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer, a German chemist, first synthesized indigo in the 1860s which is used to dye blue jeans. How cool is that?!
This product has saved our lives more times than I can count. Tecnu is used to treat poison ivy and bug bites. If you have a bad case of poison ivy, this gives the best relief.
It was invented by chemist Dr. Robert Smith in the 1960s. He originally created it to remove radioactive dust from skin. A few years later, his wife discovered how well it worked for a cleanser from things like poison ivy!
Speaking of radiation. One of my favorite women chemists is Marie Curie, one of the chemists responsible for discovering radioactivity. She and her husband, Pierre, worked together to discover unknown elements polonium and radium. In 1902, Marie isolated radium. She ultimately died of radium exposure, but what an impact she made on the world. This website has some great information on her.
By the way, a few months ago when it was International Women’s Day, I was WAY too excited snapchat (add me with username alexisroch) had a filter for Marie Curie. I totally saved it lol All my friends kept asking who she was!
Eight. First Vaccination
French chemist Louis Pasteur created the first vaccinations in the 1800s for rabies and anthrax. He used the rabies vaccine in the late 1880s to successfully vaccinate a boy who had been bitten by a rabid dog.
He also came up with the process of pasteurization to prevent bacteria growth in foods. Hence the name, pasteurize.