Chemistry in the Marketplace

Paperback - June 2017 - AU $69.95

eBook - June 2017 - eRetailers Google Books Kobo

Demystifies and explores the chemistry of the products in our homes and the world around us.

Chemicals are everywhere. Many are natural and safe, others synthetic and dangerous. Or is it the other way around? Walking through the supermarket, you might ask yourself: Should I be eating organic food? Is that anti-wrinkle cream a gimmick? Is it worth buying BPA-free plastics? + Full description

This new edition of Chemistry in the Marketplace provides fresh explanations, fascinating facts and funny anecdotes about the serious science in the products we buy and the resources we use. It might even save you some money.

With chapters on the chemistry found in different parts of our home, in the backyard and in the world around us, Ben Selinger and Russell Barrow explain how things work, where marketing can be deceptive and what risks you should really be concerned about.

Chemistry in the Marketplace is a valuable resource for university lecturers, high school teachers and students of chemistry and chemistry related subjects and disciplines, such as biochemistry, microbiology and science in society.

- Short description


"From my experience, most students and peers who do not already have an interest in chemistry usually are either afraid of it or think of it as something too complex and abstract... This book does an impeccable job at showing how concrete chemistry is to a reader who may or may not have ever taken a chemistry course... It puts together a vast amount of important and relevant content in a fun and digestible way, while introducing the reader to chemistry they most likely have never thought of before."
Maryam B. Muhammad & Alessandra S. Eustaquio, Journal of Natural Products, March 2018

"Whether your interest is swimming pools or sunscreen, pharmaceuticals or polymers, or simply a desire to put your chemistry into more familiar contexts, this book has much to offer... the wealth of detailed information is both interesting and enlightening. One could read the book from cover to cover but my view is that its strength lies in its range and detail, making it much more likely to be dipped into when looking for anecdotes or for some facts and figures to brighten up a lesson or create a resource."
Janet Mitchell, School Science Review 99(366), September 2017

"It's a rare book that makes it to the sixth edition. This one is indeed a rare species: there is nothing quite like it... It's certainly a book to become immersed in."
Ian Rae, Focus Magazine, August 2017

"In praise of Chemistry in the Marketplace, this book is suitable for the science enthusiast with or without a science degree... This book improves the image of chemistry by portraying the variety of ways in which chemical understandings influence us everyday, and it increases chemical knowledge and skills for those who require a more technical explanation. The book describes real chemistry, is relevant and is useful... Chemistry in the Marketplace has influenced my teachings of high school students, where my mantra is: 'Chemistry is the fundamental science most directly related to everyday life'."
Alison McKenzie, Chemistry in Australia, June 2018

"Had I been given this book early in my career, it would have certainly made my life easier when developing chemistry units for my students and searching for real-world links. Fourteen years on, it is still going to be useful. There are many examples that I will be able to extract and use in different ways. It will be useful to facilitate inquiry-based learning as well, assisting in highlighting the relevance of chemistry in everyday life."
Zsahni Karagiannis, Teaching Science 64(1), March 2018

"This is an attractively presented book, full of interesting chemistry which makes it highly recommended for chemistry students and their teachers, but which is tempered by mini case-studies providing a fascinating social context, which increases its potential audience to include those interested in marketing and, more generally, in environmental and social issues."
Peter Hodder, Chemistry in New Zealand, October 2017

Reviews of previous editions:
"Excellent and pioneering…it forced me to think, informed me greatly and made me laugh."
New Scientist

"Unique book which makes chemistry come alive."
Dr A. J. Davies, South Australian College of Advanced Education

"‘Instructive source of reference for the concerned consumer, high school and postgraduate chemistry students, and chemistry teachers and demonstrators at all levels."
Chemistry in Australia


Paperback | June 2017 | $ 69.95
ISBN: 9781486303328 | 552 pages | 245 x 170 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Colour photographs, Illustrations

ePDF | June 2017
ISBN: 9781486303335
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers

ePUB | June 2017
ISBN: 9781486303342
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers


  • This new edition has been completely revised and updated to align with today’s chemistry in the home, marketplace and environment
  • Written in an engaging style, mixing facts with amusing anecdotes
  • Contains experiments to help apply concepts and test understanding


1: Molecular musings
2: Chemistry of health and risk
3: Chemistry of surfaces
4: Chemistry in the laundry
5: Chemistry in the kitchen
6: Chemistry in the dining room
7: Biochemistry of metabolism and sport
8: Chemistry of cosmetics
9: Chemistry in the medicine cabinet
10: Chemistry of plastics and glass
11: Chemistry of fibres, fabrics and other yarns
12: Chemistry in the garden
13: Chemistry of hardware and stationery
14: Chemistry in the swimming pool
15: Chemistry at the beach
16: Biological effects of metals and metalloids
17: Chemistry in energy
18: Chemistry of ionising radiation
19: Experiments
Appendix 1: Nomenclature in chemistry
Appendix 2: Reporting amounts of material (units)
Appendix 3: Prevalence of logarithmic scales
Appendix 4: How much is safe?
Appendix 5: Phase diagrams
Appendix 6: Metal foils
Appendix 7: Metal alloys
Appendix 8: Maillard reaction
Appendix 9: Refractive index
Appendix 10: Glass transition temperature (Tg)
Appendix 11: The entropy game

View the full table of contents.


Ben Selinger AM is Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University. His extracurricular activities have included consumer protection, regulating Australia’s chemicals, and providing features on science on talk-back radio and for the Canberra Times. He was awarded a Eureka Prize for Science Communication by the Australian Museum.

Russell Barrow is an Associate Professor in the Research School of Chemistry at the Australian National University. He researches the roles of chemicals in natural systems, including chemicals involved in ecological processes such as plant pollination and the chemistry of compounds from mushrooms that are used traditionally in Papua New Guinea.