ZINC (Mar, 1947)


From brazen helmet and warrior’s shield of the ancient world to the modern flashlight cell and galvan-ized steel plate, zinc has worked in the service of man.


THOUGH it seldom makes headlines, humble zinc ranks with iron, copper, and lead as one of the most widely used metals in the world. Hundreds of thousands of tons of zinc are used annually as a molten dip to coat iron and steel pipes, tanks, and roofing for protection against corrosion. The process is known as galvanizing.

Brass is made of about 30 percent zinc and 70 percent copper. Granular zinc and zinc dust are used in the laboratory to release hydrogen from acids, to recover gold and silver from solutions, and in organic synthesis. More than 500,000,000 zinc cases for use in electrical dry cells are manufactured every year.


UPDATE: Somone on digg pointed out that if you look closely at the picture of the father and son filling a model Zeppelin on page two you can see that it says “Hindenburg” on the side.



HYDROGEN, the lightest of chemical elements forms a very interesting field of experiment for the home chemist. It can be produced easily in several ways for experimental purposes; one of the most common of which consists of the action of sulphuric acid on zinc.

A flask into which is dropped a few grams of zinc scraps is fitted with a rubber stopper, thistle-tube and delivery-tube as shown in the photo. The thistle-tube is fitted into the stopper so the end will be about 1/8″ from the bottom of the flask. The end of the delivery-tube is near the top of the flask. Dilute sulphuric acid is poured down the thistle-funnel and hydrogen is produced when it comes in contact with the zinc. The top of the thistle-funnel is covered with a piece of glass to prevent the hydrogen from escaping. The hydrogen flows out through the delivery-tube and is collected in a bottle over the pneumatic trough.

Table-Top Oil Refinery For The Home Chemist (Feb, 1940)

Table-Top Oil Refinery FOR THE HOME CHEMIST


Mechanized Armies Make Oil Supply Vital,” “Shortage of Fats Imperils Nation at War”—headlines like these spotlight what used to be routine items in a country’s shopping list, and give them new interest for home-laboratory experimenters.

Envious eyes the world over turn toward our vast forests of oil derricks, and the rivers of crude oil that refineries turn into gasoline for vehicles of war and peace. What makes their enormous production possible is the modern “cracking” process for extracting gasoline. Once the crude oil was simply distilled to separate, in turn, the gasoline and other substances it contained. Today, in addition, by-products of the distillation are “cracked” or broken down into gasoline, doubling the total yield.

Experiments With Tin (Oct, 1944)


From the Bronze Age to World War II, this metal has been useful to man.


WHEN you next speak of tin, be sure it’s with respect. For tin is not only one of the most useful of the common base metals, but it is by far also the most expensive. At a price of 52 cents a pound, this erroneously maligned metal is more than three times as costly as aluminum, is four times as dear as copper, and is 40 times as expensive as iron. What’s more, its important contribution to everyday living and to industry makes it worth the price.

Tin is one of the most ancient and honorable of metals. Alloyed with copper to make bronze, it has been used to fashion weapons, utensils, and tools since prehistoric time. In this alloy, tin makes the copper harder and more resistant to atmosphere and gives it a lower melting point. The tin mines of Cornwall, England, now supplying tin for the Allies’ war effort, have been in almost continuous operation since the Bronze Age.

Learn About SULPHURIC ACID (Jul, 1942)

In the 1940’s practically every issue of Popular Science had a detailed chemistry article with experiments for teens to perform. I’m going to begin posting them in the new Chemistry category.

Learn About SULPHURIC ACID – No. 1 War Chemical


NEVER pour water into concentrated sulphuric acid. They will boil and spatter over the room. This is caused by the acid’s great affinity for water. The only safe way is to pour the acid into the water, stirring constantly. Likewise, concentrated sulphuric acid will draw water out of the skin, leaving a dangerous burn.

Chemcraft for Victory! (Dec, 1944)

The basic message of the letter to all the readers of the magazine is: buy a Chemcraft outfit or your big brother will be killed by Japs and Nazis. Also, it will help you find a job after the war.


Dear Jack,
It was swell to get your V-mail letter. Hope it won’t be long before I am back home with you. I’m glad to hear that you are interested in my Chemcraft Outfit. Now I realize how important chemistry is and what a vital part it plays in our war effort. And after the war chemistry will be more important than ever. So the more you and I can learn about chemistry the better our future chances of success. Our Chemcraft Outfit will help you get a good start. So stick to it. All my love to you, Mom and Dad.

Your loving brother,

FUN with QUICKSILVER (Apr, 1939)

Last week we had an article on how to make Nitrous Oxide, today we have fun experiments you can do with mercury, a poison. Mercury is considered toxic enough that when it is spilled in schools they are routinely closed and decontaminated. The article does point out that it is a poison and should be handled with care, then goes on to explain how to build a little straw-device for picking up stray globs of mercury. While this device does prevent you from sucking up mercury, it does nothing about the fumes.

Just to be clear: Mercury is a poison, it can cause neruological damage, it can give you cancer, it can kill you. Do not do any of these experiments.


Mercury, the Liquid Mystery Metal, Offers a Fascinating Field of Experiment to Amateur-Chemistry Enthusiasts

MERCURY seems to be nature’s joke on the scientist. The only metal that is liquid at ordinary temperaatures, it still outweighs most solid ones-lead included. Volume for volume, among all the substances you encounter in your everyday life, only a few such as platiinum, “gold, and tungsten are heavier than mercury. Though it runs like water, it does not wet objects, and a drop of mercury in the palm of your hand is so elusive that it defies you to pick it up with your fingers.

The Gas That Makes You Laugh (Jun, 1949)

This is a Popular Science article from 1949 which teaches budding young chemists how to make nitrous oxide. It even helpfully explains that the gas produces “a feeling of exhilaration when inhaled”.

Other articles in this series include:

  • The crystal which eliminates the need for sleep.
  • The dust that lets you lift a car.
  • The weed that makes you feed.
  • The liquid that gives you control of time and space

The Gas That Makes You Laugh

Chemists call it nitrous oxide. You can generate this and other oxides of nitrogen in a home laboratory.

By Kenneth M. Swezey

AN ACHING tooth is never tunny, but i. the dentist who yanks it out may well first put you to sleep with a few whiffs of nitrous oxide, commonly known as “laughing gas.”