Element Collection

Element Collection

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Major Lab Renovation Part 2: Safety!

The first pieces of my new lab have arrived: real, heavy-duty lab safety cabinets for flammables and corrosives!



Also, I'll be sealing the grout lines in the lab with this suggestively-named product:

This will help keep spills from staining (or possibly dissolving!) the grout. The tile is ceramic so it should be reasonably resistant to most things on its own.

Now to await the furniture!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Major Lab Renovation Part 1: First Steps!

My home lab has served me well for the past seven years on YouTube (can't believe it's been that long!), but now it's time for a major overhaul and renovation of the space. You may have already seen the announcement video on my YouTube channel. Rather than post several small videos, I thought I'd document my progress here as things happen. I'll make a video to showcase the new setup once it's all in place, but that could take several months. So first, let's start with a tour of the lab space I've been using so far.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Golden Rain

This post is the video companion to this video.

This experiment is hands-down the most beautiful chemistry demonstration I've ever seen. I'll be synthesizing lead(II) iodide, which has a beautiful golden yellow color. This experiment is especially striking because this bright yellow solid is produced from two water-clear solutions.

Materials
  • 1.0 g Potassium Iodide, KI
  • 0.8 g Lead Nitrate, Pb(NO3)2
  • 500 mL Distilled Water
Reaction
Pb(NO3)2 (aq) + 2KI (aq) --> 2KNO3 (aq) + PbI2 (s)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Getting Started With Home Chemistry

As a part of my participation in the Gulf Coast MakerCon, I wanted to write a short article to cover the basics of home chemistry, for those that want to know more. We'll go over where to start, how to find supplies, and a few excellent resources I use in my own experimental pursuits.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Gulf Coast Makercon 2014

I'm very excited to announce that I will be participating in the Gulf Coast MakerCon on April 5-6, in Tampa FL! This event is similar (but not affilliated with) the Maker Faire in California, and is made up of people that make or do interesting things. There's a huge variety of participants - 3D printing, robotics, custom jewelry, cosplay, tabletop gaming, and much more - so you're bound to find something that interests you! The MakerCon folks featured me in one of their Meet the Maker segments as well.

I will be hosting a booth featuring my Element Display, which is now nearly fully stocked with samples! I only have about 13 left to collect. I will also have an outdoor area where I will be performing live chemistry demonstrations every few hours, including exciting experiments like thermite reactions. I haven't finalized my list of demos, but I'm leaning towards 3 per show, with the theme of wresting elements from their compounds.

If you are in the area, I definitely recommend you try coming to this event. It promises to be very educational, exciting, and lots of fun! Come visit my booth and say hi!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Oil of Wintergreen

This post is the video companion to this video.

Today's experiment will be making a minty-scented oil for the winter time: methyl salicylate, or oil of wintergreen. This can be made simply from two very common and easy to obtain chemicals, and with a very simple procedure. This is also one of my first forays into organic chemistry!

Materials
  • 13.0 g aspirin, C9H8O4 (the actual tablets will weigh more!)
  • 60 mL methanol, CH3OH
  • 8 mL concentrated sulfuric acid, H2SO4
  • Distilled water 
Reaction
1 mol aspirin + 2 mol methanol --> 1 mol methyl acetate + 1 mol methyl salicylate

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Chevreul's Salt

This post is the Video Companion to this video.

Chevreul's Salt is a little-known copper compound that is quite easy to prepare, and has a few very interesting properties. In this post, I'll go over in detail what I did.

This experiment only requires two materials: copper sulfate and sodium metabisulfite. The former is sold at hardware stores as root killer for plumbing, and the latter is commonly found on eBay (since it is used by gold recovery people).