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Fish Oil-Styrofoam Test is a Platform Trick
The demonstration inaccurately states that the effect of EE on the Styrofoam is due to the “ethanol” in EE fish oil, and implies that
ingesting the EE form will have detrimental effects on the digestive tract and liver.
There is, in fact, no free ethanol in PRISTIN fish oil FISHGEL, nor does polystyrene in any way resemble the human digestive tract.
One chemical property of a compound is its polarity (difference in electrical charge between opposite ends of a molecule). Within
the body, our diet, and the environment, examples of both polar and non-polar natural compounds abound. Chemistry students
learn that polar compounds like ethanol and water will not dissolve non-polar materials like Styrofoam. Only non-polar compounds
can dissolve Styrofoam, which is also non-polar. "Like dissolves like” as the saying goes.
The observation that the EE form is able to dissolve Styrofoam simply reflects the fact that the polarity of EE is extremely similar to
Styrofoam. It means nothing more than that, and it certainly does not suggest a concern for safety or toxicity. The EE form of
omega-3 fish oil has been judged to be very safe by every regulatory agency that has reviewed the scientific data.
It's just a solvent-type action, not a "chemical reaction". "Styrofoam" (tm of Dupont) is a gas-foamed casting of polystyrene plastic.
Polystyrene is a -(CH2)- chain with a -(C6H5) benzene-ring group on every second C, replacing one of the H's. Having only C and
H atoms, it's a very non-polar molecule. The benzene group with its de-localized electron cloud several atoms across reaches out
farther to do physically attractive interactions with nearby molecules than does the simple waxy or oily -CH2- chain. So non-polar or
moderately polar solvents with double-bonded groups like ketones -(C=O)- and benzene-rings (or other "aromatic" groups) will tend
to dissolve it. Look up "solubility parameters". Solubility parameters (s.p. numbers) represent the "like dissolves like" rule in
numerically-ranked form.
Any groups attached to the carbon backbone that raise the s.p. number without adding too much electric polarizedness, will help
liquid dissolve polystyrene. Hydroxyl groups are too polar, so glycerin and alcohols don't do it. (Methanol might slightly.) Gasoline
does attack styrene foam because it has modest percentages of benzene, toluene, and xylene. Paint-store denatured alcohol has
10% acetone CH3-(C=O)-CH3 in it as the denaturant, so it will attack ps-foam a little. All cousins of acetone, like MEK and MIBK,
will attack polystyrene. Old-fashioned plastic model glue is toluene (CH3)-(C6H5) with a little ps already dissolved in it to make it
thick. Paraffin wax, drug-store mineral oil, and candle oil are very pure linear (CH2)x molecules and won't quite dissolve it except
maybe when heated. Polyester resins typically used in fiberglass really melt ps foam. To get around this I once built water-floats of
ps-foam wrapped with fiberglass cloth and painted on epoxy resin instead. Epoxies do vary in molecular formula, but most won't
dissolve polystyrene before they harden. DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) and NMP (n-methyl pyrolidone) are solvents with high s.p.
values; they dissolve ps very well.