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What makes runny oil?

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Chemistry Coursework- What makes runny oil?


What am I trying to find out?

I am trying to find out what makes runny oil.


I predict that the more carbon atoms the oil has, the less runny it is.

Scientific Explanation

My explanation to my prediction using scientific ideas is that the molecules in the hydrocarbon attract each other, and the more carbon atoms there are, the higher the attraction force is. Therefore when the molecules attract each other, there is “intermolecular force”. This is connected with “Van Der Waals” theory of forces. This is because Van Der Waals forces are very weak attractions between electrically neutral molecules, or parts of molecules. These attractions involve the organization of the orbitals of the valence electrons in interacting molecules.

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BuretteBall bearingStandBossClampHexane, decane, dodecane and hexadecane



  • Set out the equipment as in the diagram as shown, measuring out 2 marks 20cm apart.
  • Place in the burette either one of the oils.
  • Drop the ball bearing into the burette and start the stopwatch when the middle of the ball bearing goes past the first line.
  • Stop the stopwatch when the middle of the ball bearing passes the second of the lines on the burette.
  • Take down the results in a results table.
  • Repeat the experiment for each oil.
  • Then repeat all the experiments at least 3 times to ensure we get an average result.

Readings and Results

   The way that we ensure that our results are reliable and accurate is that we will repeat each experiment at least 3 times.

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 Attempt (secs)





3rd Attempt (secs)





Average (secs)






On the whole the experiment went well and we can draw a concise conclusion which is that the oil hexadecane is much more viscous than hexane, decane and dodecane. This is because of the hydrocarbon structure of the oil being a lot more than the others. As you can see from the results there were no large anomalies, other than one small thing. The timings for hexadecane are quite well spread apart, this could be because of slight miss calculations like taking the reading of when and where the ball bearing starts to sink or when it arrives at the bottom of the burette. All these things are minor because we can clearly see the outcome of the experiment.

Overall I think that the evidence that we have gathered together can substantially back up my prediction that I we can draw a concise conclusion.

...read more.

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