Inspired by a conflux of events: a post about demos in Mitch’s chemistry community, followed by a dangerous chemistry demo listed in About.com (below the jump), and ‘Things I won’t work with: FOOF’. I thought I’d mention a series of books near to my heart, full of exciting demos for any precocious high school student with an indulgent teacher or any teachers in the audience.
Bassam Shakhashiri’s Chemical Demonstrations : A Handbook for Teachers of Chemistry, along with vols. 2,3,4 are the absolute best demo books out there. Check them out on Google book’s preview, then buy, borrow, or steal them if you do demos.
However, there are provisos I would offer to a high school student. For example, when using cent pieces for their copper content … don’t. The newer (1981+) American cent coins have a zinc core. Just grab some copper wire from a hardware store … it’s quite cheap.
All of this brings us to my point … Bassam includes in the book (never intending it for unsupervised student use) the recipe for nitrogen triiodide.
… stop …
Look down at your hands. Pick your two least favorite fingers … now imagine them reduced to a chunky mist about 6 inches to the right of your body. If you make nitrogen triiodide without knowing what the hell you are doing that image will become reality. Ask one of its discoverers: Pierre Dulong ( who discovered NCl3, thanks for the kind note Ender!).