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Science Guy: Styrofoam cup not a match for finger nail polish remover thanks to acetone

You are not going to believe what you can do with finger nail polish remover. Our “Science Guy” Jason Lindsey and a kid scientist show us why you should never get a Styrofoam cup close to acetone.

Go to – and click on Hooked on Science for this experiment and others that might get you and the entire family “Hooked on Science.”

Do you drink your favorite drink from one of these, a foam cup? If so, after seeing this amazing experiment, you might change your mind. Here’s the bottom line Brynna, it’s hard to get rid of one of these foam cups. You throw it in the trash, it goes to the land field, many years later you come back, you’re going to find it right there.

But, here’s what we’re going to do, we are going to place the foam cup in this, this is called acetone. What do you think is going to happen? It’s going to dissolve. Okay, let’s test your hypothesis, let’s put them in just like this, push the top, and you’ll notice just that. Acetone is a solvent that easily dissolves the bonds between the polymers, which make up the cup and you can see how it’s dissolving the foam cups. Pretty amazing!

Dissolving Styrofoam


· Styrofoam Cups

· Acetone

· Disposable Gloves

· Pie Pan


STEP 1: Place the disposable gloves on your hands and then pour 1 cup of acetone into the pie pan.
STEP 2: Place the Styrofoam cups into the pie pan of acetone and observe. Describe and classify the Styrofoam cups, before and after placing them into the pie pan of acetone, by their observable properties. Develop a model to describe how the Styrofoam cups are made of particles too small to be seen.


The acetone is a solvent that easily dissolves the bonds between the polymers, which make up the Styrofoam cups. Go to www.hookedonscience.org for more experiments that might get you and your family “Hooked on Science.”

To see more Science Guy experiments, click here.


Jason Lindsey is an award-winning science educator and author. Jason studied science and journalism at Western Kentucky University, focusing on general science with an emphasis in meteorology and climatology. Each year he performs hands-on science experiments at hundreds of schools and community events throughout the United States, as well as produces and hosts a hands-on science segment airing on television stations across the nation. He previously worked as a chief meteorologist, backpack journalist, science reporter and webmaster.

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