Are you a frustrated chemist who never outgrew their fascination with the home chemistry kits of the good old days? Back when people took responsibility for their actions and "product liability" wasn't the fear of every company out there? This is the EXACT book you need to get in order to rekindle that love or to pass it on to a new generation... Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture by Robert Bruce Thompson. You won't get a simple "isn't it cool how this changes color?" approach to science. Thompson covers serious stuff, complete with best practices, methodologies for recording your experiments, and plenty of safety tips along the way. After working through this book, you'll be further ahead than most entry-level college students.
Introduction; Laboratory Safety; Equipping a Home Chemistry Lab; Chemicals for the Home Chemistry Lab; Mastering Laboratory Skills; Separating Mixtures; Solubility and Solutions; Colligative Properties of Solutions; Introduction to Chemical Reactions and Stoichiometry; Reduction-Oxidation (Redox) Reactions; Acid-Base Chemistry; Chemical Kinetics; Chemical Equilibrium and Le Chatelier's Principle; Gas Chemistry; Thermochemistry and Calorimetry; Electrochemistry; Photochemistry; Colloids and Suspensions; Qualitative Analysis; Quantitative Analysis; Synthesis of Useful Compounds; Forensic Chemistry; Index
I *did* say it was far more than just changing the colors of liquids in a test tube...
You can tell that Thompson has a real love of this field. He starts off with his story of how he got interested in chemistry, as well as how this book would map to a first or second year chemistry course. He explains the value of keeping a laboratory notebook in a way that will meticulously track your results and offer a chain of evidence should you stumble upon the next great compound. Safety and supplies follow that, and he does an excellent job in balancing risk and reward, cost and budget. Instead of just saying that you should avoid anything that can possibly injure you, he advises you on how to protect yourself, how to safely handle chemicals that could react in a dangerous fashion, and generally do what you need to do without fearing every little step. After the supplies, you get a course in the chemicals you'll need to obtain to do many of these experiments. Some are fairly easy to get, while others have become more controlled and restricted over the years. Still, he points you to sources and alternatives that will keep this from becoming an overly expensive habit. After a final chapter on laboratory skills, you start getting into the good stuff... mixing chemicals to observe reactions!
The lab exercises are laid out in a straight-forward, easy to follow fashion. Your prep work is covered, along with the supplies and chemicals you need. The procedures follow, along with pictures to show appropriate information. Finally, there are areas to record your observations, answer questions, and try variations on the exercises. All in all, a complete package to learn the particular subject matter being covered. While some of the lab exercises might seem somewhat esoteric in terms of what you're learning, others are extremely practical (like the entire chapter on forensic chemistry). But in all cases, Thompson is laying the groundwork for a complete and solid understanding of chemistry, while having some fun along the way.
Obviously by reading the table of contents, you're not going to give this book to your eight year old and turn them loose in your garage. However, a teenager with solid leanings to chemistry will get a lot of value from this book. Likewise, the adult who somehow lost his or her way to the lab in the course of growing up can rediscover their passion. Teachers can get some new ideas and freshen up their classes... All in all, a great book that brings life to a subject that far too many students and adults fear and dread...
Just one word of advice... packing this book as reading material on a plane may *not* be the best idea... it'd be easy for someone to get the wrong idea as to what you're up to... :)