Letter | Published:

The Glass Scratch Effect and Molecular Structure

Naturevolume 180page1475 (1957) | Download Citation



A CLOSE relation exists between the effect of scratching the wall of a glass container with the tip of a glass rod and the nature of the liquid present. Ordinary round-bottomed 5-ml. test tubes are half filled and the inside wall briskly scratched some fifty times. The result is examined under proper light, the contents stirred, allowed to settle overnight, and the sediment examined. Three types of effect are observed. (1) The rod slips. This is caused by aromatic compounds (except benzene and some simpler derivatives); some other cyclic compounds; open-chain compounds of more than ten carbons approximately. (2) The rod bites and produces glass dust, varying in amount and texture, which immediately disperses. This is caused by non-polar compounds of low weight, most ketones, and sulphuric acid. (3) The rod bites and produces abundant dust which sticks most characteristically to the wall, on which it can be smeared. This is given, in decreasing order, by : (a) water and monohydroxyalcohols; (b) dihydroxyalcohols, primary amines; (c) aliphatic acids, some esters, aldehydes, ketones, secondary amines. This last group is intermediate between (2) and (3).

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Iler, R. K., J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 74, 2929 (1952). Adam, N. K., “The Physics and Chemistry of Surfaces”, 3rd edit., 219 (Oxford Univ. Press, London, 1941).

  2. 2

    Rasmussen, R. S., J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 71, 1068 (1949). Miyazawa, T., J. Chem. Soc. Japan, 74, 743 (1953) (Chem. Abstr., 48, 1116h; 1954).

  3. 3

    Syrkin, Y. K., and Dyatkima, M. E., “Structure of Molecules and the Chemical Bond”, 273 (Butterworth, London, 1950).

  4. 4

    Gray, E., and Bottreau, M. M., C.R. Acad. Sci., Paris, 240, 2134 (1955).

  5. 5

    Meyer, K. H., Ber., 44, 2725 (1911).

  6. 6

    Fétizon, M., Fritel, H., and Baranger, P., C.R. Acad. Sci., Paris, 238, 2542 (1954).

  7. 7

    Zellhoefer, G. F., Copley, M. J., and Marvel, C. S., J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 60, 1337 (1938).

  8. 8

    Hülsmann, O., Z. anorg. allgem. Chem., 218, 269 (1934). Sabinina, L., and Terpugov, L., Z. physik. Chem., A, 173, 237 (1935). Zaslavskii, I. I., Zhur. Priklad. Khim., 21, 732 (1948); Chem. Abstr., 43, 930.

  9. 9

    Pound, J. R., J. Chem. Soc., 99, 698 (1911). Chelintzev, V. V., and Kozlov, N. A., J. Russ. Phys. Chem. Soc., 46, 708 (1914); Chem. Abstr., 9, 1749. Sabinina, L., J. Gen. Chem. (U.S.S.R.), 3, 87 (1933); Chem. Abstr., 28, 1592. Terenin, A. N., and Yaroslavskii, N., Acta Physicochim. U.R.S.S., 17, 240 (1942); Chem. Abstr., 37, 6553.

  10. 10

    Young, W., J. Soc. Chem. Ind., 52, 449 (1933).

Download references

Author information


  1. Division of Laboratories and Research, New York State Department of Health, Albany



  1. Search for J. BOURDILLON in:

About this article

Publication history

Issue Date




By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.