Why chillies? Well, chillies get their hot flavour from a chemical called capsaicin. From food to plastics, from semiconductors to oil, chemistry helps us understand their properties and how we can improve them. Stinks, bangs, silly putty & glow-sticks; knowledge of chemistry helps us make them smellier, louder, stickier and brighter.

We have put together some of the experiments that have inspired us and I hope you have fun doing them as well.

Most of these experiments can be done using household materials. Others need chemicals that may be harder to find. Have a word with your chemistry teacher, who may be able to help you do the experiment at school or college.

!!! Take care when handling chemicals and dispose of them responsibly.


Halloween, a pumpkin & Thermit. Surprisingly the pumpkin survived.


Some Great Chemistry Resources


There are plenty of good text books on chemistry and you can find practically anything you need on the internet, but here are a few resources that we think really bring the subject alive.


·        Chemical Curiosities by H.W.Roesky & K.Mockel is a collection of well illustrated spectacular experiments. Many of the experiments require access to a school or college laboratory, but are well worth the effort if you get the opportunity.

·        Chemical Magic by L.A.Ford is a little more basic, containing many experiments that can be done with fewer resources

·        Peter Wothers from Cambridge University has produced a number of DVDs such as 'It's A Gas' and 'Chemistry of Light' that are packed with entertaining, practical demonstrations of experiments that could not easily be performed at home.

·        Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks is about a child growing up in a time when you could buy all the chemicals that you would dearly like to get your hands on now.

·        The Chemical History of a Candle by Michael Faraday is one of those classics that you have to own. The master of practical science gives the best lecture on chemistry ever.

·        John Emsley is a brilliantly entertaining and informative writer who has written many popular science books on chemistry. Take a look at: The Shocking History of Phosphorus, Molecules at an Exhibition, Elements of Murder & Molecules of Murder.



Useful Websites


www.periodicvideos.com University of Nottingham, Periodic table videos

www.rsc.org The Royal Society of Chemistry

www.rigb.org The Royal Institution of Great Britain

www.wikipedia.org Free encyclopedia

www.the-ba.net The British Association for Science

www.setnet.org.uk Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network

www.ipo.gov.uk/patent.htm UK Intellectual Property Office

www.uspto.gov US Patent Office


Places to visit


·        Science week - Every March, various locations in the UK. Check out your local University, College or Museum

·        Palais de la Decouverte, Paris, France

·        Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, Mersey Rd, Widnes, UK

·        Science Museum, South Kensington, London, UK

·        Royal Institution Museum, Albemarle St, London, UK



Chemical Mnemonics


Here are a few mnemonics that we have found along the way. I hope you find them useful as well.




·        The colours of the Rainbow

o       ROY G BIV

o       Richard Of York Gained Battle In Vain

·        Elements in the Periodic Table (first 20)

o       Hasty Henry Liza Beryl Became Cold North Of France Near Narcy Magra All Silly People Should Climb Around Kilimanjaro Camp

·        Electrochemical Series

o       Katie's Nan Can Magnetise Aluminium Z(n)ippers. Few Snobish Plumbers Have Caught MSG

·        Transition Metals (1st Row)

o       Scabby Tim Violates Crummy, Mangy, Ferrets, Cows and Nice Cute Z(n)ebras

·        OIL RIG - Oxidation Is Loss, Reduction Is Gain


·        The Electromagnetic Spectrum

o       Ronald McDonald Invented Very Unusual & eXcellent Gherkins



Always remember:


Always do things as you oughta

Add the acid to the water

If you think your life's too placid

Add the water to the acid