Dissolving Fabric, No Residue
Name: Jennifer D.
Date: Summer 2011
My mother gave me a project that I thought I would be able
to finish. I was suppose to come up with a fabric that dissolves
with heat leaving no residue behind. I worked on the project with my
chemistry teacher but the only thing we accomplished was turning
colored paper to a clear color. I've been researching for months and
Have tried paraffin and other materials and keep hitting a brick
wall. Is there a material that I would be able to test before I
loose my mind?
I cannot see that it is possible to create a fabric that disappears
leaving no residue, when exposed to moderate heat (say, 500°F or less).
Materials exposed to heat commonly melt or otherwise degrade, but they
don't just disappear!
There is one possibility that you may not have thought of, however.
The plastic material called Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) is water-soluble,
and has been used in the past to make, for example, laundry bags which
dissolve when the bag (together with the laundry it contains) is thrown
into the washing machine. A fabric made of PVA still will not disappear
when heated, but will dissolve in water and "disappear".
However, you might want to think twice about wearing such a fabric in
You cannot make a material completely disappear -- you cannot simply
destroy matter. However, you can vaporize it or dissolve it in a
If your goal is to make a fabric vaporize, most synthetics (e.g.
polymers) will vaporize at around 500C+, this process is called
pyrolysis. Although there are plenty of materials that are more
heat-resistant. This is comparable with the self-clean cycle in a
household oven (and in fact, pyrolysis is how the self-clean works).
However, if you want to make a material disappear at a more moderate
temperature, I think you will have problems. Most textile fibers are
designed to be resistant at temperatures of over 100C.
Alternatively, you could also dissolve the polymer in a solvent, but
that is not really what you are asking.
Hope this helps,
This is a challenging project. There is an answer, but it requires careful handling. Start with an article made of cellulose (paper or fabric).
Convert it to what is called "flash paper".
This is an item used by
magicians. Its limitation is that it is very flammable -- ignites and burns very quickly -- fraction of a second. It leaves no residue after ignition.
If you "Google" the term "flash paper" you will find numerous recipes. It meets your objectives, but it does have its downside.
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Update: June 2012