Wine, hot-tubs….is this a science blog or another Jersey Shore blog?!

So last week, we gave a shout out to Louis Pasteur for helping to save the wine industry (oh and all of that other stuff about vaccinations and safe milk….props for that as well, Louis!)  Now, we’ll make the likely transition from wine to hot tubs.  I’m only saying this because I am currently in a marketing course and I figure what better way to market my blog then mention things that gets people’s attention so they’ll read about science!  Now for the old bait and switch…. 

That lovely hot tub you see on pretty much every reality show featuring hot young folk wouldn’t be quite so lovely without….. 


Atomic Symbol:          Br (one of the abbreviations on the periodic table that actually makes sense in the English language!) 

Atomic Number:         35 

Atomic Mass:              79.904 

State at room temp:     liquid (but just barely, so it’s like water about to boil) 

Bromine gets a bad rap.  Ok yes, it’s a halogen which is the group of elements that make up the second from the right column on the periodic table and there’s a whole lot of nasty stuff in that group.  Fluorine, chlorine, bromine…you don’t want to run into these things in their pure form, people.  In fact, if a puddle of bromine just appeared on the floor, it would start to boil and immediately turn into a purple gas mist.  Ok so that sounds cool but you’ll probably need a hazmat suit to watch that.  Since Bromine and other halogens are so nasty, they choose to bond with metals to form ionic salts.  Halogens are like people, they just want to form a special bond with someone and go out and make a positive change in the world! 

Here are some uses for bromine: 

  • Disinfectant in hot tubs.  Bromine salts are more effective disinfectants at higher waters temperatures than chlorine salts so they are the choice for hot tub water.
  • Brominated vegetable oil is used in citrus flavored soft drinks.  The bromine is added to the oil because it makes the oil about as dense as water and this allows the oil to stay suspended in the drink.
  • In the form of tertrabromobisphenol A, it is used as a fire-retardant on clothing.  These days anything with the ending “-phenol” is pretty much looked at as a bad guy.  The safety of this chemical is in question-Should it really be put on kids clothes?  It’s one of those things you gotta think about, weigh out the pros and cons and make a decision for on your own.  

So long story short-if you like Mountain Dew and relaxing in a hot tub, you’re a fan of Bromine. 

A coffee table book every nerd should have.....Thanks mom!


Source:  The Elements, A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore Gray, 2009, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers.