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This is a question Home Science

Have you split the atom in your kitchen? Made your own fireworks? Fired a bacon rocket through your window?
We love home science experiments - tell us about your best, preferably with instructions.

Extra points for lost eyebrows / nasal hair / limbs

(, Thu 9 Aug 2012, 17:25)
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The last of the oven experiments
Like many other posters, during my teenage years, I enjoyed extracurricular chemistry experiments. This particular one involved popping into sainsburys and wilkos on the way home from school in order to buy icing sugar and sodium chlorate weedkiller. As others have noted, the weedkiller available was only about half sodium chlorate; the other half was sodium chloride, to act as a fire suppressant and spoil our fun. Sodium chloride was a very good choice in that it is really quite difficult to separate chemically, however there had obviously been a breakdown in communication somewhere as whoever had mixed the two had forgotten to make the grains the same size. A trip to the kitchen drawer later I possessed a separation system that was seemingly considered beyond the logistical capabilities of the IRA: a tea strainer.

After a merry half hour or so sieving the weedkiller, I mixed it with some icing sugar (my science teacher was surprisingly helpful in helping me do chemical equations with molecular masses in order to get the quantities correct). Piling the mixture up and lighting it had en effect similar to a flare- bright yellow light and clouds of smoke. The next step was to try and make a version of the "smoke pellets" somewhat less shit than the joke shop sold. My utterly foolproof plan was based around the fact that the sodium chlorate would not chemically decompose until it reached 250C; I could put the mixture in the oven at around 200C thereby melting the sugar, which would bind everything together when I let it cool and set.

Satisfied with the genius of my plan I put the mixture in an old bean tin and placed it in the oven. As a teenager with a short attention span I wasn't going to stand around in the kitchen waiting, so went and shut myself in the back room and messed about on the internet. It wasn't long before I was disturbed by my mum screaming something that roughly translated as "what the buggering fuck is my house full of smoke so thick I can't see a bastard thing". I learned two things that day: a bean tin half full of weedkiller and sugar makes rather a lot of smoke, and no amount of protestations that the thermostat in the oven is to fault will reduce the bollocking metered out for putting such a mixture in the oven. From that day forward I was banned from putting anything non-food based in the oven (well, for a few years; I recently got away with cooking old microwave transformers as part of an unrelated project to build my own welder).
(, Tue 14 Aug 2012, 22:24, 6 replies)
You do realise the transformers may contain compounds not good for health?
I know ovens generally will clear themselves but are you sure you want to fill your mother's with all sorts of toxic crap?
(, Wed 15 Aug 2012, 1:33, closed)

After my mum got a nice new kitchen, this old oven has been relegated to the 'experiment oven' in which most things (short of explosives) are allowed
(, Wed 15 Aug 2012, 9:09, closed)
Especially that Megatron fellow

(, Wed 15 Aug 2012, 16:05, closed)
Your own welder?
A burly man in a metal mask and leather apron?
(, Wed 15 Aug 2012, 8:09, closed)

An arc welder, essentially a big transformer that gives ~100A @ 48V; the spark is hot enough to fuse steel. Shameless plug
(, Wed 15 Aug 2012, 9:13, closed)
I think regardless of whether
your future experiments are successful or not, you can go to your grave content in the knowledge that you were the inventor of the Swiss Army teapot.

Even if it leaks hot tea everywhere, just the name is worth a nobel prize.
(, Wed 15 Aug 2012, 9:19, closed)

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