Overheard: “That contains chemicals. You should look for a more natural version.”
Me: “…ugh .”
As a chemist, I really cringe at those type of statements because I always want to shout out “EVERYTHING IS A CHEMICAL!!” Of course, I’d be wrong.
Not all matter is a chemical, but all chemicals are matter.
Wait. What does that mean? Well, for starters, energy is not a form of matter, and thus energy is not a chemical. Photons, kinetic energy, heat, etc. aren’t chemicals. Not that they matter anyway. ;0 Such a bad pun that I had to keep it.
Neither neutrons, positrons, nor electrons are chemicals, even though they’re components of an atom and are matter.
Intangible substances such as wishes, desires, and dreams aren’t either. If I make my dream come true, alas I’m not creating matter folks.
…but basically everything else is a chemical or comprised of multiple chemicals in various states. Take a frozen slushie as an example. It’s a composition of frozen water mixed with sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup, a coloring dye, and flavors. All of which are chemicals.
Everything we eat contains chemicals, whether “good” or “bad”. I’m not going to debate the merits of organic/natural vs synthetic/conventional chemicals because that’s another blog post. However, I do want to leave you with a question. What is the chemical difference between vanillin that I extract from a bean versus vanillin I synthesize in a lab?
***I wrote vanillin, not vanilla extract! This is an important distinction because vanilla extracted from a vanilla bean contains vanillin — as well as other aromatic chemicals such as furfural, cinnamic acid, 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde, and others — whereas synthetic vanilla extract is basically vanillin in ethanol.***