3 Spooky Science Hacks to Try on Halloween

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Just a few more days until the spookiest day of the year – and the official holiday to carve all the pumpkins and eat way too much "fun size" candy.

Even if, let's face it, you're a little old for trick-or-treating, you can still play "mad scientist" and try out a few spooky experiments in between your Halloween parties. Not only will these tricks help you get into the spooky spirit of the season, they'll help you recover from all that sugar afterwards.

Make Your Jack-O'-Lanterns Last Longer

No Halloween season is complete without a pumpkin carving party. But it's no fun when those pumpkins start to droop before Halloween – or worse, go moldy in what seems like hours.

So use the power of science to make those jack-o'-lanterns last longer! You've got two options: lemon juice and bleach, plant expert Thomas Andres told Smithsonian Magazine.

Lemons work simply because they're acidic. The chemical reactions that rot your pumpkins are driven by proteins called enzymes, which work the fastest at specific pH levels. Because lemons are so acidic, spraying lemon juice on the pumpkin changes its pH. Those browning enzymes can't work so effectively, so your pumpkin looks fresh for longer. Simply spraying the outside of your pumpkin helps keep it safe.

Bleach by denaturing some of the proteins that microbes – like the mold that can infest your pumpkin – need to live. So a little bleach can kill growing mold infestations before they can significantly rot your jack-o'-lantern. Spray the pumpkin inside and out to protect it.

Warnings

  • Bleach is highly corrosive and it can burn your skin and eyes or harm your lungs if inhaled. Spray the pumpkin outside, wear gloves, and ask your parents for help to stay safe.

Make a (Kinda) Anatomically Correct Bat Costume with an Umbrella

Still deciding how to dress up for halloween? Why not learn a little bit about one of the Halloween-iest animals – bats – and put your costume together at the same time?

All you need is a black umbrella and a black hoodie.

The costume uses the metal "ribs" of umbrella to recreate the bones in the bat wings. In real life, those wing bones made up of two groups of bones: the metacarpals and phalanges, which are homologous to the bones in your fingers and hands. They're similar to our hand bones because, as mammals, bats and humans share a common ancestor (psst: You can read all about bats' other adaptations here).

Actually making the costume is simple – you just cut the umbrella into bat "wings" that you attach to the hoodie, then use the leftover material and ribs to make pointy bat ears. You can find the full instructions here.

Cure a Halloween Sugar Hangover

No one can blame you for over-indulging in candy corn – but that doesn't make a sugar hangover any more pleasant to deal with.

That icky feeling comes because massive amounts of sugar can temporarily throw off your body's homeostasis. Your body is naturally really good at managing the amount of sugar in your bloodstream, and you have sets of hormones (like insulin) that can lower your blood sugar when it gets too high.

But if you've had too much sugar (or your body's insulin system isn't working like it should) you can over-compensate, causing your blood sugar to go too low. That can make you feel tired, irritable and even dizzy – and it can be dangerous if you have a condition like diabetes.

The solution? Drink plenty of water! Your body will naturally excrete sugar via your kidneys and you'll need water to replace the fluids you lost. And get moving! Taking a walk will both help use up that extra glucose and help you enjoy the last of the autumn colors before the snow comes!

References

About the Author

Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist. Before launching her writing business, she worked as a TA and tutored students in biology, chemistry, math and physics.

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