What Is Tinsel Made Of?


Christmastime means decking your halls (and tree) with shiny tinsel. But you might not sleep in heavenly peace if you knew what some of the stuff used to be made of. In Episode 12 of Speaking of Chemistry, Carmen Drahl looks at tinsel’s chemistry history.

If this episode leaves you wanting more, read the sources below. Speaking of Chemistry is a production of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly magazine of the American Chemical Society.

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What Is Tinsel Made Of, And How Has It Changed Over The Years?
C&EN Volume 92 Issue 50 | p. 31 | What’s That Stuff?
Issue Date: December 15, 2014

The Crimes of Lead
C&EN Volume 92 Issue 5 | pp. 27-29
Issue Date: February 3, 2014

Method of making christmas tinsel
US Patent 3480502 A
Publication Date November 25, 1969

Tin-antimony alloy; for christmas decoration
US Patent 4749599 A
Publication Date June 7, 1988

Tinsel: Can’t Live With It, Can’t Get Past Christmas Without It
Wall Street Journal
December 23, 2009

You Want Tinsel? You Can Get 30,000 Miles Of It Here
Philadelphia Inquirer
December 3, 2000

Posted in Recent Episodes

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