Do You Know How These Common Things Are Made?

SCIENCE

J. Reinoehl

7 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

You see and use these ordinary things every day, but how are they are made? Take this quiz to find out if you know how to make these common items. Every step won’t be described, just the basics.

How is a pink eraser made?

White erasers are made out of vinyl, but pink erasers are made from rubber. In 1736, Europeans discovered South American natives making bouncy balls from tree resin. The explorer brought the rubber home to experiment with and found its first use as an eraser (or “rubber”).

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How is concrete made?

“…You have to remember that I came to America as an immigrant. You know—on a ship, through the Statue of Liberty. And I saw that skyline not just as a representation of steel and concrete and glass, but as really the substance of the American Dream.” –Daniel Libeskind

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How is printer ink made?

After being milled, the ink is run through quality control five times and more additives are combined with it to give it the correct consistency and insure colors are similar. It is run through a final milling process before it is packaged.

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Gelatin, hot water, potassium chloride, and silica granules are combined and paraffin-coated aspen is dipped in the mixture to make what?

“Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us, but we can’t strike them all by ourselves.” –Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate

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How is perfume made?

“A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.” –Christian Dior

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Waxes, pigments, a plant-based gel, and moisturizers are combined in a kettle that melts and blends them; then the product is molded, cooled, and placed in their case?

“You can’t keep changing men, so you settle for changing your lipstick.” –Heather Locklear

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Aluminum hydroxide, calcium carbonate, and xanthan gum are combined with other chemicals into large containers and then cooked until it is doughy; colors are added; and packaging tubes are filled to make what?

Peppermint it the most common flavor of toothpaste. People tend to prefer toothpaste with colored stripes as opposed to plain toothpaste.

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Sodium hydroxide and animal fat are combined and heated; water is added to keep it fluid; its cooled, milled, mixed with color and fragrant oils, an formed into long bars?

“Memories are like mercury: Every time you sort of try to get near them, they slip out of your hand like a bar of soap.” –Daphne Guinness

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Water, sodium laurel sulfate, coconut oils, colorants and scents, keratin proteins are combined to make what?

All shampoos contain the same basic mixture of about 50 percent water, sodium lauryl sulfate, and at least two coconut oils for lather and texture. Other additives determine the difference between salon shampoos and those sold in grocery stores.

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Rubber is added to oil with pigment and kneaded; the mixture is milled and formed into talcum powder coated tubes; after it is cured and vulcanized, they are cleaned and cut?

Rubber bands are a British invention. They were first created in the middle of the 1800s.

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How is aluminum foil made?

“I grew up on comic books. X-men was my favorite team; Wolverine was my guy. At 8 years old, I dressed up as Wolverine with adamantium claws that I made out of aluminum.” –Brian Tee

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How is correction fluid made?

Betty Nesmith Graham invented correction fluid while working a secretary in the ‘50s. After bottling and selling the product to other secretaries, she lost her job when she accidentally typed the name of her company on a document (Mistake Out) instead of typing the name of the bank for which she worked.

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Glass is highly polished and backed with thin layers of tin, silver, copper, and two coats of paint to make what?

“Let us be grateful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only.” –Samuel Butler

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Melt copper, cobalt, sulfur, nickel, iron, aluminum, and titanium together in an electrical induction furnace and pour it into a sand mold; break the mold away and collect the metal pieces; then heat the pieces again and run an electrical charge and then an electromagnetic charge through them to make what?

The first electrical charge aligns the magnets properly and primes them. The second electromagnetic charge turns the shaped pieces of metal into a strong magnet.

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Recycled paper is mixed with water until it becomes pulp, which is strained and injected with air to remove ink; it is then bleached and heat rolled and spooled to make what?

“Today, you can go to a gas station and find the cash register open and the toilets locked. They must think toilet paper is worth more than money. ” –Joey Bishop

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Paraffin is melted with a secret powder, chemicals, and pigment is blended and injected into molds; they are labeled and boxed to make what?

Crayons were first invented in 1903 in America. Most crayon makers only use non-toxic ingredients.

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How are toothpicks made?

“‘It seemed to me,’ said Wonko the Sane, ‘that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to need to include a set of detailed instructions for use in a package of toothpicks was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane.’” –Douglas Adams, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

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How are marbles made?

Special marbles are hand crafted and have numerous layers. Many are larger and are signed by their artists.

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Glass disks are cleaned and inspected before a primer and a photo-resistant coating are applied and dried and has data etched on to it; the glass plate is then used as a mold for liquid polycarbonate, which is later thinly coated in aluminum and varnish to make what?

“When we were making vinyl records, we had a lot of time limitations for each record, so songs were left off for a number of reasons. Now, with CDs, much more music can be included.” –Ken Hensley

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Flour, egg white powder, onion powder, potato starch, yellow food coloring, and water are mixed twenty minutes and rolled into a thin sheet; then it is sliced thin, steamed, portioned, fried, and packaged with seasoning to make what?

Go Pek-Hok (Momofuku Ando) was raised by his grandparents after his parents died. After World War II, he invented Ramen noodles as a way of creating a noodle product that was easily manufactured. The first packages cost six times more than noodles of the day, but now they are one-third the cost of the cheapest restaurant fare.

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Natural and synthetic rubber, chemical additives and carbon black are blended under heat and pressure before being rolled into doughy sheets that are reinforced with rubber fabric and rubber encased steel cables; inner and outer parts are built separately and stuck together to make what?

“I might be a living legend, but that sure don’t help when I’ve got to change a flat tire.” –Roy Orbison

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How is peanut butter made?

An American doctor invented peanut butter in 1890. It was used as a protein substitute for those who could no longer chew meat with their bad teeth.

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How are needles made?

“Kittens are wide-eyed, soft, and sweet with needles in their jaws and feet.” –Pam Brown

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A laser slices tiny wafers of diamond, which are then polished and placed in a metal chamber that is filled with hydrogen and methane gas under pressure; after growing for two weeks it makes what?

It takes sophisticated testing to determine the difference between a synthetic and real diamond in modern times, but synthetic diamonds usually cost 15 percent less.

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How is silk fabric made?

“With time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes satin.” –Maltbie Davenport Babcock

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Seeds are collected and cleaned, then pressed into liquid wax, where it is heated, filtered, and cleaned and filtered again to make what?

The jojoba plant is grown in desert areas naturally. It is used in beauty products, soaps, and even some recipes.

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How are bricks made?

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” –David Brinkley

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Concentrate is made in a secret location and shipped to a packaging factory, where it is diluted with high fructose corn syrup, filtered water, and carbon dioxide?

Although the ingredients are listed on the label, “natural flavors” means any chemical compound that can be naturally derived from a plant. The exact “natural flavors” in Coke are a highly classified trade secret as is the location from where these flavors come.

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How are construction nails made?

“There is a joke that your hammer will always find nails to hit. I find that perfectly acceptable.” –Benoit Mandelbrot

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Recycled glass, soda ash, sand, limestone, and other minerals are melted together and then spun, glue is added and it is all compressed and heated, then cut, compressed again, and packaged to make what?

Fiberglass insulation is spun like cotton candy. Gas and compressed air are involved in the process to stretch and thin the fibers.

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How are colored pencils made?

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles away from the corn field.” –Dwight Eisenhower

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How are Twinkies made?

The first Twinkies were filled with banana cream and hand filled. During World War II, bananas were in short supply, so vanilla cream became the standard filling.

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How are staples made?

“I don't think people have made staples by hand since the fifteenth century.” ―Lemony Snicket, The Austere Academy

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Plastic pellets are heated and poured into molds, polyester reservoirs are shoved into the molded plastic, diluted dye is injected into the reservoir, and nibs are added?

Yukio Horie invented felt-tipped markers in 1962. The next year, Carter’s developed highlighters that used translucent ink.

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Synthetic base made from plastics and rubbers, color, and flavoring is mixed and sweetener is added, after it melts together from the friction, it is extruded and cut to make what?

“Beethoven can’t really be great because his picture isn’t on a bubble gum card.” –Charles Schulz, Peanuts

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