Sunday, February 23, 2020

When Life Was Groovy: Chemistry Sets!!

Not only was life groovy, it was fun, exciting, and, well, downright dangerous!!

Yes, I'm talking about the chemistry sets that kids used to play with.  And these were the  real deal complete with Bunsen burners, glass test tubes and really, REALLY cool chemicals like sodium cyanide, lead acetate, potassium nitrate (also known as saltpeter, you know, for making gunpowder), and sulfuric acid, among others.

What you WON'T find is namby pamby stuff like gloves or safety goggles.  I mean, what could possibly go wrong????

Instead of safety equipment, one apparently had to wear a tie while creating a chemical reaction to liberate chlorine gas (yes you could do that with these sets!!)

Yep, not a safety goggle in sight.  Go ahead young chemist and hold that glass beaker full of explosive chemicals right in front of your eyes!!

Sorry, ladies, creating dangerous chemical reactions in your own home was exclusively the domain of boys.  No Girls Allowed!!

You'll just have to be content with a boring Lab Technician kit.  I mean it says that it's been "safety tested" right on the front.  How can that be any fun?!?!?!?

 They were even endorsed by Superman!! So of course they were cool!!

Okay, okay, I guess the girls were allowed to play with the chemistry sets too.  I can just imagine the conversation:

"Bobby, in the manual it says not to mix those two chemicals together like that."

"Nah, it'll be fine."

Ten minutes later: "Whatever you do, don't tell mom."

But as dangerous as the chemistry sets might have been, there was something even worse...
Yep, your very own atomic energy lab!!  I mean how neat-o cool is that!!  And yes, it had real uranium and radon samples!!!  I mean read the box: Exploding atoms?? check, Background radiation??, check, "Safe" radioactive materials??, check, check, and CHECK!!

And what's not included??? any sort of safety equipment of course!!

Somehow, I doubt that one could sell something like this today on the open market.  If you tried, you'd probably get a visit from the Dept. of Homeland Security!!

So what has become of these classic toys of our youth????

Oh good God NOOOOOO!!!  Plastic equipment??? PLASTIC????  No chemicals????? and worst of all it includes, gasp, safety goggles!!  No wonder kids prefer to sit around all day and look at their cell phones!!


  1. My brother had one in the 70s with the metal case. Me and my brother had fun with it.

    1. Yeah I had a chemistry set too. It was a lot of fun. Kids these days just have no idea what they are missing out on!!