Suggestions for Chemical Experimenters

Suggestions for Chemical Experimenters


  1. It is not necessary to have expensive equipment to become a proficient chemical experimenter, or to give these chemical illustrations.

  2. You may select the experiment you desire to use on a given occasion, purchase the chemicals needed for the experiment in just a sufficient amount for the one time, plus of course the amount you wish to use in home experimentation before the public appearance.

  3. Or you may put in a supply of each chemical used in each experiment you wish to perform, so that on future occasions you have the materials for the illustration on hand.

  4. Select the apparatus necessary for each experiment as you use it.

  5. You will find that a few test tubes or various sizes and with various supports which you yourself can make, a few glasses or tumblers of various sizes, a few glass bottles with wide necks and of different sizes, two or three pitchers of different sizes, and a glass rod with which to stir the chemicals will be all you need to perform the experiments in this book.

  6. You may wish to set up a chemical laboratory. Then go through the book, select from each experiment the necessary apparatus, and buy it all. You will note that all of this, even if purchased at one time, will require a comparatively small outlay.


  1. You add to your chemical laboratory the chemicals for the experiment you wish to use on a given occasion. This is the least expensive method.

  2. Or you may go through the book and purchase the chemicals needed for all the illustrations, label them carefully, place them on shelves in your laboratory, and thus be ready for any experiment at any time. You will notice there are duplications of several of the chemicals.

  3. You may buy a quantity of each chemical, so that you will have a supply on hand for home experimentation and practice, and also to use in case you wish to give the experiment before another group.

  4. Most of these chemicals can be purchased from your local drugstore. If, however, they are not available there, the druggist will be glad to assist you in locating them and doubtless will order them for you, or your local high school may supply you.

  5. The druggist's advice as to the amount to buy will be valuable.

  6. You may consult the teacher of chemistry in your local high school or college, if you are situated in a college town. These persons will be very happy to give you necessary information or assistance.

Home Practice

  1. Never give an illustration in public without practicing it at home. This assures you a smooth and perfect performance. Also it shows you the proper proportions to use in making the solutions. Be sure you know what the chemicals will do.

  2. Experiment with the proportions of the chemicals in the solutions until you are sure you have them just right for the illustration. Too weak or too strong solutions can ruin an excellent display. This is the reason homework is so essential.

  3. Some persons advise you to mix the chemicals home, and to bring only the ready-to-use solutions with you to the platform. In this manner you are sure of what you are doing. In this book I have at times indicated that you may show the audience the entire process. It is true that when time must be considered, mixed solutions are advantageous.

  4. In doing this basic homework be neat about your preparation so that when you come to the platform your bottles of chemicals and solutions make a neat array. Have the bottles as uniform in size as possible and use clean corks and stoppers. All of these things add to the general impression your address makes. Be neat and careful at home, and you will be neat and careful on the platform.

Performance of the Experiment

  1. Before you come to the platform be sure you have practiced the experiment often enough at home that you can give it smoothly before the audience. Little delays and blunders spoil the effect of any experiment.

  2. Know exactly the steps you are going to follow in performing the experiment. This comes from home practice. It is unwise to use a set of written instructions from which you read each time you make a step in the experiment. Memorize the process carefully, and give your illustration without notes.

  3. Perform your experiment where everybody can see it. Never stand so that your back is toward the audience, and so that you hide any of the steps in the experiment.

  4. If it is possible, use assistants, one or two being sufficient. You may select these beforehand, and even have them practice with you. The main parts of the experiments, however, you should do. You may want someone from the audience to investigate what you are doing; I have indicated this in a number of the experiments.

  5. When the audience cannot see the results, such as the development of the invisible-ink message, you may wish to pass the materials around.

  6. Perform your experiments confidently and naturally. Talk all the time, unless you stop to heighten the suspense. Then say, "Now, keep your eyes on the experiment . . . Watch, it is coming! . . . etc." Do not talk down to children but slant your message to the adults and young people as I have in this book. When there are children in the audience, make some applications especially for them. What appeals to a child usually appeals to the grown people. The simpler your talk the more young and old alike will enjoy it.

  7. Time your experiment to the time alloted you. Finish when you are supposed to, but be sure that you have sufficient time to carry through the illustration to the best advantage.

  8. For evening meetings you may work in a spotlight, with the other lights out. This adds to the suspense, but you must be careful that you have sufficient illumination for the audience to see what is taking place.

  9. You may perform the experiment with a background of soft music, but be careful that your voice is not drowned by the music. Old people and those who do not hear well do not appreciate music when anyone is speaking. It makes it more difficult to understand what is being said.

  10. Coordinate your tongue and your hands. Talk
    as you work, but be sure your talks keeps pace with the experiment—that what you say coincides with the process the people are watching. You will thus maintain a continuity of attention and suspense, and  the interest of the audience will never waver.

Disposal of Used Chemicals

  1. When you have finished the experiment (either at home or before the audience) do not throw your chemicals in the sink, for many of the acids will eat lead or other pipes.

  2. The best method is to bury the remains of each experiment. Some of the acids used are poisonous, and if a child should find them the results might be dangerous and even deadly.

  3. When fumes or gases are developed by the experiment, be sure there is sufficient ventilation to keep them away from the audience and yourself.

  4. I believe it is necessary to repeat here a caution which I have mentioned in several of the experiments: be very careful that none of the chemicals touch your hands and clothes. Some of the acids will burn your skin and ruin your clothing, hence your rule should be to work only in such a manner that clothing and body will be protected at all times.

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