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The Geezer
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Category: General
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Experience:  Retired Civil Engineer, USC Professor & Realtor, financier
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why did the orange juice turn green after I put the steel wool

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why did the orange juice turn green after I put the steel wool in it?
Orange juice is acidic. The pH of orange juice is quite low, 3.0 to 4.0:

The "steel wool" is finely divided iron. It gets oxidizes - rusts - quickly in acidic solutions.

BUT rust is a red color, not green.

There is a very good chance that the "steel wool" had some soap in it, especially if you used a new steel wool pad. Were you to very thoroughly rinse out ALL the soap in a steel wool pad, and tried your experiment again, the rust color would appear.

BUT there is yet another possible explanation. During a similar science fair experiment I found that sometimes organic materials, like orange juice, left alone with or without steel wool or pennies or anything else in it, at room temperature, for a few days... yes, you guessed it, MOLD forms. And often that mold is green. Try the experiment with a soap-free steel wool pad in the refrigerator - or in an ice bath if the refrigerator is not available. You should get rust colored water, reddish brown.

Final answer!

Edited by The Geezer on 3/29/2010 at 6:56 PM EST
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for your help.