Fun In The Lab

My daughter, Shantel, has a big, final, biology project that is due in a few weeks. The assignment was to plan and execute an experiment from beginning to end. The requirements state the experiment must be documented each step of the way including pictures of each stage of the experiment. Then, when the results of the experiment are analyzed, and finalized, the entire experiment has to be pulled into a power point presentation for the class.

Shantel decided to run an experiment on hair relaxers and their effect not only on hair, but skin tissue, and also it’s effect on the environment.

The first step was to purchase the hair relaxer solution from the beauty supply store. Then, decide what would be used as samples in the experiment. Shantel used fresh chicken to represent the effect of hair relaxer on skin. She also asked me to cut a piece of her hair, from the under section of the back of her head where it would not be noticed. This of course would represent the effect of hair relaxer on human hair. She used a soda can, and a plastic grocery bag, to represent the effect of hair relaxer on the environment.

Even though this is a biology project, Shantel’s chemistry professor invited her to do the experiment in her chem lab, because she said it would be much safer than trying to do it at home. This was a huge plus as the lab is equipped with all sorts of high-tech equipment, like scales that are so sensitive you have to hold your breath when placing the item to be weighed on the scale, because even breathing on it will change the results. Who knew? She also supplied goggles, lab coats, gloves, and all the glass beakers needed to mix, stir etc. Shantel started the experiment with a classmate on Thursday. They weighed and labeled each sample item. Then they put each of the sample items in a separate container, and added the hair relaxer solution, covered them, and put them in a non-working oven used to store things so they won’t be disturbed. The sample items had to stay in the hair relaxer solution for twenty-four hours.

Classes run Monday-Thursday so Shantel asked me if I would take her to the chem lab on Friday, as her professor said she would be there, and we were welcome to come in and complete the next step in the experiment which was to rinse the hair relaxer solution off each sample item, and let them all dry out over the weekend. The professor told Shantel I was welcome to come and assist Shantel since her classmate would not be in that day. I was happy to help.

When we arrived at the chem lab the professor greeted us warmly, and provided our goggles, lab coats, gloves, and began showing me how to operate the high-tech scale.

Since we had to have a way to rinse each of the sample item without losing even the smallest piece of the sample, the professor suggested we use cheese cloth to put each sample in to be rinsed. She provided a beaker with a funnel. We were to put the cheese cloth in the funnel then place the sample item in the cheese cloth and begin running water over it until all the hair relaxer solution was gone. If any of the hair relaxer solution remained on the sample item, it would change the weight results from the beginning of the experiment. We even had to weigh each piece of cheese cloth so we could subtract that weight from the final weight after the sample items had time to completely dry… I was so glad the professor was there to tell us all this because I would never have thought of all that… Would you?

This is a picture of the chicken used to represent the effect of hair relaxer on skin/tissue. The one on top is the chicken after being in the hair relaxer solution. The chicken on the bottom was the raw chicken before hair relaxer was added. You can see the chicken that was in the hair relaxer solution was starting to “cook”. Imagine what that does to your skin and how it can get into your pores. The other pictures next to the chicken is the metal. The hair relaxer solution was starting to have an effect on the metal, but there was little change to the plastic bag which you can see in the two bottom pictures. I guess that is why we should not use plastic bags. It seems noting can destroy them…

Bio project

This next picture is the sample of Shantel’s hair.  The bottom picture with the hair in the cup is before the hair relaxer solution was applied. The top picture is her hair after being in the hair relaxer. If you look closely, you can see where the hair sample started disintegrating, all the dark area around the piece in the middle are little pieces of hair that look more like splinters.


This is a picture of all the documentation we did to record starting weights, weight of cheese cloth, and where we will document the final weights when I go back on Wednesday to help Shantel record those final results.


I found this experiment fascinating, and I was amazed to find out the main ingredient in hair relaxer, Sodium Hydroxide, is the same main ingredient in Drano drain cleaner. OMG! I was also shocked to find out there is hair relaxer’s for babies and young children. I can’t imagine anyone, in their right mind, putting these harsh chemicals on babies and young children!

I was glad to be invited to help Shantel with this project… and, it was a real fun day in the lab!

Stay Tuned!

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gotham girl
    Nov 09, 2013 @ 22:42:13

    Oh my!!! I love that I never know what I’m going to be reading about when I visit your blog! What an eye opener. All I can say is that I’m glad I never used a relaxer on my hair. Back in the day I ironed it, but that was about it, ha ha! xoxoxo MORE!


    • beyondcinderella
      Nov 10, 2013 @ 14:29:10

      I remember the good old days of having my girlfriend iron my hair on an ironing board too. I don’t know how we ever thought that up but it worked if you could keep your head still long enough! Ha! XoXo


  2. katsbynp
    Nov 10, 2013 @ 03:29:21

    Fascinating experiment. Great idea by Shantel to do all 3. I know a few people who use hair relaxers so I will have to share this post. Thanks for sharing!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Wheeling It: Tales From a Nomadic Life

On the Road Since 2010, Traveling Across USA & Europe With 12 Paws

The Brantley Blog

In the eyes of the law, we reach adulthood the day we turn 18 years old. God help anyone who actually believes that.

the next few years

family life..with a unique perspective of motherhood

Gotham Girl Chronicles

a mixture of random in

Blooming Burgh Boomer

Living An Active Full Life

%d bloggers like this: