One of my favorite chemistry demonstrations involves a supersaturated sodium acetate solution.  I usually do it in a beaker in the lab, but you can do the same thing at home with a reusable hand warmer.  Basically it’s filled with some water that contains more sodium acetate than it should be able to hold.  The solution is unstable and all it needs is something to begin the crystallization process (in the reusable hand warmers you do this by clicking the little metal button).

Instantly the crystals begin to form and within a few seconds the entire thing has crystallized.  In the process it also produces quite a bit of heat, which is why these are used as hand warmers (and not just cool chemistry demos).

July 2014 219July 2014 223

The holidays always seem to make my heart feel a bit like a supersaturated solution.  Thanksgiving is a time when we slow down and actually take the time to show our gratitude for all we have.  And then comes Christmas with the joy and laughter and peace on earth.  We’re constantly reminded of the birth of our Savior and even the crankiest among us feel the need to share what we have with those around us.

It’s during this time that my heart is full of so many emotions it’s a bit hard to contain them.  And then something comes along that starts the formation of all those crystals of emotion.  That’s what happened to me a few day ago…

My family and I had gone out to dinner together at our favorite restaurant.  It was a nice relaxing evening – the food was great, the kids were behaving, and everyone was happy.  When it came time to pay for the meal the waitress informed us that someone had already paid for it.  It wasn’t a busy night at the restaurant and looking around we didn’t recognize a single person.  An unknown stranger had paid for our meal out of pure kindness.

I was shocked and I have to admit I had tears in my eyes as we walked to the car.  We’re thousands of miles away from relatives and sometimes it’s hard, especially around the holidays.  It was so nice to be reminded that even total strangers are our brothers and sisters and deserve our love.  It has certainly helped my family – we immediately started talking about what we could do to show our love to others during this Christmas season.

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