Benzene from Coal and Lye?

Chemistry, Education
[caption id="attachment_17736" align="alignright" width="480"] Coal and Lye[/caption] As a youth, I read whatever chemistry books I could get hold of. One made reference to an obscure synthesis of the liquid aromatic compound benzene from coal and lye, by means of heat. This reaction would seem to be an improbable one. Can a stoichiometric equation be written for such a synthesis? The answer is, Yes. This in itself does not guarantee the reaction can actually take place. 6 NaOH + 9 C → 3 Na2O + C6H6 + 3 CO I learned of this synthesis from an old book, possibly published in the 1800s. Coal and Lye - What Conditions? Such a reaction strongly suggests isolation. The reaction required considerable heat. Also, air was to be excluded, since carbon would react…
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Chemicals to Peel Tomatoes?

Food, Manufacturing
The advertisement for Hunt’s Tomatoes says they use no harsh chemicals to peel their canned tomatoes. This statement does not openly suggest other companies use harsh chemicals, but it implies that they do. In fact, it is a common practice to use chemicals to peel tomatoes. Hunt, though, declares they use steam. To Tell the Truth My curiosity aroused, I decided to look into the matter. Technically, Hunt is telling the truth. Nonetheless, the use of lye in the peeling of fruits and vegetables is not new or unusual. Although 70% of tomatoes are peeled using hot water or steam, approximately 30% are peeled using lye. 'How To' Peel Tomatoes These facts are found in the publication by the University of California, Davis entitled, Peelability and Yield of Processing Tomatoes…
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