What is the chemical reaction that occurs when we put the egg in vinegar?
A well-known chemistry experiment is done by placing an egg (raw or boiled) into a container filled with Vinegar. After a few days, something exciting is observed: the egg becomes rubbery and bouncy.
But, after all, what happens when we put the egg in Vinegar?
The eggshell is formed by calcium carbonate (CaCO3), a salt in limestone, plaster, marble, chalk, corals, shells of marine animals, stalactites, and stalagmites found in caves, among other places. This compost is mainly used for glass production, but it is also used in cement production and liming to decrease soil acidity and increase crop productivity.
The fact that calcium carbonate reduces soil acidity already indicates that this salt has a primary character. On the other hand, Vinegar is composed of an aqueous solution of acetic acid (H3C-COOH), usually at 4% by volume.
Every carbonate reacts in the presence of acids, generating carbon dioxide (carbon dioxide – CO2 ). In the case of the egg-in-vinegar experiment, this can be seen by the effervescence (bubbles) that forms around the eggshell.
The following equation can represent the chemical reaction between calcium carbonate and acetic acid:
CaCO3 (s) + 2CH3COOH (aq) → Ca(CH3COO)2(aq) + H2CO3 (aq)
CaCO3(s) + 2CH3COOH (aq) → Ca(CH3 COO)2 (aq) + H2O (l) + CO2(g) ↑
Carbonic acid ( H2CO3), in fact, has never been isolated as such and is considered by many authors as an aqueous solution of carbon dioxide (H2O + CO2).
Note that the calcium carbonate that made up the eggshell breaks down, and the membrane around the egg on the inside does not react, becoming elastic.
Another factor that can be observed in this experiment is that the egg increases in size. This happens thanks to a phenomenon called osmosis, in which the water molecules in the Vinegar pass through the pores of the semi-permeable membrane around the egg. In this way, the water leaves the less concentrated medium (Vinegar) to the more concentrated one (inside the egg), swelling it.