Sciencemadness Discussion Board

The moment (or moments) that made you realize you had a passion for chemistry

Vicarious3rdEye2 - 9-3-2018 at 20:26

Hey everyone :)

I have read threads about what jobs people have on this forum but I wanted to start one that was solely about the passion for chemistry or science in general. What is it that got to your soul that made it light a fire for you to pursue chemistry either as a hobby and/or a job?

I feel like it is also a way of life.

And what is it that keeps you interested?

What do you wish would change in the field?
Or in the general view people as a whole have on it? (Besides breaking bad and the mainstream media outlets talking about terrorist attacks or meth lab raids I don't think chemistry is brought to people's attention that often. )
It has somewhat gained a notoriety as we all know as almost something forbidden to actually learn just for the sake of learning itself.

I want to hear any and all things that relate chemistry and your passion with it.

I love hearing people talk about what THEY love.

What is your story?

Vosoryx - 9-3-2018 at 21:03

There are many credits to my love of chemistry. A "Perfect storm" of sorts.
I first ventured into real home chemistry in grade 8. I did a science fair project on how lithium reacts with different liquids. (Vinegar, salt water of various concentrations, hydrogen peroxide, hot water, ice water, etc.) I did the reaction in a fume hood at school, but extracted the lithium from the batteries following Nurdrage. I don't know how I got this idea, but I did...

I didn't do anything on chemistry for the next year and a bit, my passion became metalwork. However, my metalwork, (and specifically metal casting) on youtube gave me the recommended video, one of cody'slab's "Precious metal refining".I watched a lot of his videos, but didn't really focus too much on the chemistry part. I was more interested in the metalwork aspect.

However, a job that I was working on with my dad was the third catalyst. I found, (in a crawlspace) and was given, a giant box of silver spoons in early grade ten. After viewing cody's videos, I got the brilliant idea to refine the silver out of them. (Obviously, since they weren't even close to pure silver, it wouldn't have worked worth a damn but what did I care?) I started watching videos on silver refining, and a lot on making nitric acid. I bought a simple distillation apparatus from amazon, found some graduated cylinders and beakers in thrift stores, and tried to gather as much as I could. All the while, I was watching (Through the youtube recommended tabs) NileRed, Nurdrage, Doug'sLab, Chemplayer, etc. I never actually tried to refine the materials out of them... The spoons are still sitting in a box in my bedroom.

That same year, I made quite good friends with the chemistry teacher at my school, who let me stay in his lab while I waited for the bus. He taught me lab techniques, and even left reactions out for me to do after school 1 on 1. He was probably the fourth main reason.

Soon, I kicked my mother out of her small stained-glass shed and turned it into my lab, (She was happy to be moved inside to the heated ex-dining room for her glass.) and i've been doing chemistry, (focusing on organics) there ever since. I'm actually not entirely sure how it happened, writing it all out like this it seems so unlikely that any of this would amount to anything... but it did!

I'm very interested to hear other people's stories, if they have them!

Melgar - 10-3-2018 at 02:06

In all honesty? I read The Anarchist's Cookbook circa 1998, and concluded that understanding chemistry could allow one to wield enormous power. Around that time, various apocalyptic scenarios were commonly discussed, and being able to fashion weapons out of society's refuse seemed to be at the top of the list of useful skills. Oh, and I also quite enjoyed McGyver.

I also filled a balloon with hydrogen, attached a slow-burning fuse to it, and let it go at night. A nice little flash could be seen. The next one had some oxygen added from my dad's torch, and that one was more impressive. :D

18thTimeLucky - 10-3-2018 at 02:26

My 'story to chemical passion' was definitely more gradual than that Melgar!

Funnily enough it all started out with Lego for me. My sister had suggested I make a YouTube account and make videos on my lego, being a 10 year old at this time. One of the channels I then consequently watched for lego videos made a video on a video game, Minecraft, and I found this game super fascinating. The ores and metals and wiring in the game, as I watched videos without even getting the game for a year, really hooked me. (I know I am a huge nerd, but are we not all?)

Along with science at school (I did not really have a favourite science at this time) this got me after a few years interested in all sorts of YouTube science channels. I began watching physics channels such as minutephysics, chemistry videos such as crazyrussianhacker (way before he turned into a item review channel), biology, and general science and maths channels such as Vsauce.

Biology at GCSE (when I was 15-16) became my favourite science, but I was always better at chemistry. I had began to watch more and more chemistry videos without even realising, and even when I did signifcantly better in my chemistry exams in GCSE than biology.

When A-Level turned (16-17), in which I started and still am studying biology, chemistry and mathematics, I found myself enjoying chemistry more and more. After watching a bunch of videos on different channels takes on the simple alkali metals in water again, such as Periodic Videos, I thought I must get hold of some sodium. I bought just a small container of 1g of sodium, but I thought the sodium was so cool and it blew my mind to see a metal fizzing and shooting around, reacting with water!

From here it was a chemistry set for christmas (when I knew a decent amount of chemistry so I just manipulated all of the chemicals and equipment for my needs), where it had a small container of copper(II) sulfate(VI). I had seen many channels growing these crystals, such as Thoisoi2, and decided to upgrade from the measly 4g the set had and bought 250g of the georgeous blue crystals.

From here it is history, I suppose the saying goes. I think growing copper(II) sulfate(VI) crystals was my turning point, and since then (a little over a year) I have gotten a place to study chemistry at uni and have been expanding my home lab bigger and bigger, and watching more and more YouTube channels (such as NileRed, Nurdrage, Doug'sLab, Chemplayer, etc as mentioned by Vosoryx above).

It makes me sad to think that YouTube seems to be getting into a worse and worse state, as the inspiration I think for many of us chemistry wise has been kindled by many brillant science YouTube channels. Especially as chemistry seems to be looked down on more and more negatively, especially with terrorist attacks, drugs, etc. (because of that I hate Breaking Bad, the amount of people who first refer to my lab as a meth lab as a joke infuriates me).

I am very interested to read anybody elses stories as well. (even if for times sake we have to cut and shorten our stories dramatically such as I did here, not even mentioning my partner's massive influence on my chemistry with how acceptive she was of it, being a history of art student who originally hated, but now loves, chemistry)

CobaltChloride - 10-3-2018 at 14:21

For me, it all started with a neighbor.

He told me about a game called Minecraft. I installed it and made a house in creative mode. Not long after I stumbled upon "Galacticraft", a minecraft mod. It was all about making rockets and travelling though the cosmos. I then discovered that Youtube has many minecraft channels which showcase mods.

After a bit of experimenting with different "scientific" mods for minecraft, I got to 6th grade. Thus I began studying physics. I really enjoyed it so I started watching scientific youtube videos (from Vsauce and many others).

When I got to 7th grade, I started studying chemistry. I didn't like it as my teacher wasn't very good. I even got a bad grade for saying that nitric acid is HNO4 (ouch...). During this year, physics was still my main passion.

However, at the start of 8th grade things changed. Somehow, NileRed's video on the iodine clock rxn popped up in my recommended on youtube. After seeing this video, I started watching a lot more chemistry videos from Nilered. Eventually, youtube funneled me to NurdRage, ChemPlayer, Doug'sLab etc. . Seeing all these wonderful reactions, I learned a lot more about chemistry. For some reason, I have never done any lab session in my chemisty class. All was just theory.

In any case, wanting to do these reactions myself, I convinced my mom to buy a few beakers, erlenmeyers, pippettes, graduated cylinders and a scale from an online chemistry lab supplier. After they arrived, I dragged my mom though different stores to find the required tincture of iodine, distilled water, starch and hydrogen peroxide. Following that, I did the iodine clock reaction. I also tried boiling down the black solution that remained afterwards and was amazed at the wonderful purple smoke that came out of the beaker. I put a watchglass on the beaker on which there was a block of ice so that a few tiny, smelly crystals of iodine formed.

After this unforgettable evening, my passion for chemistry became unstoppable. I quickly learned a lot about both organic and inorganic chemistry. I also started accumulating glassware and chemicals form allover. I started doing some personal research on making ferrates and permanganates as well, whose results have been promising. I introduced my chemistry teacher to all of this by doing the iodine clock in front of her eyes. It went very well. She started to let me use the school's lab and dug up some old chemicals from the communist era just for me (mercury II chloride, cadmium acetate, nickel sulfate, tin II chloride just to name a few). She also let me use silver nitrate as a catalyst for a persulfate oxidation (taken from woelen's blog).

In conclusion, my passion to chemistry is attributed to a neighbor, galacticraft's creator, NileRed and youtube in general. Just as 18thTimeLucky? , seeing chemistry youtubers being prosecuted by youtube saddens me greatly. A great help was my country's relaxed attitude towards chemistry. Only a few useful chemicals are hard to find: KMnO4, acetic anhydride, red P, hydrochloric acid and all chemicals obtained from pottery stores (CoO, MnO2, NiCO3).

[Edited on 10-3-2018 by CobaltChloride]

sodium_stearate - 11-3-2018 at 13:51

That moment for me was when I was about ten years old
and had made my very first primary cell. The recipe for it
is in the old book "The Boy Electrician" written by Alfred P. Morgan.

The book details many various types of cells.

The easiest for me to construct and test as my first one
was the LeClanche cell. That one uses a solution of
Ammonium Chloride dissoved in water as the electrolyte.

The positive electrode is carbon, the negative electrode is

The first time I mixed up one of those, then put the leads
from my dad's vacuum-tube voltmeter across the terminals
and watched the needle go right up to 1.4 something volts,
that was the moment.

Magpie - 11-3-2018 at 14:06

My curiosity about things mechanical and electrical started just before my dad died when I was about 4. We had a small box of pipe fittings laying around. I spent a lot of time Screwing/unscrewing them. We also had about a 3 foot long electrical pigtail, a plug with 3 wires. I really wanted to plug this into a wall socket but my mother told me not to. I did it anyway causing an electric arc and a loud crack.

[Edited on 11-3-2018 by Magpie]

LearnedAmateur - 11-3-2018 at 15:08

I suppose my passion was born out of doing (at the time) cool stuff with household ingredients and bits that I found in the garage when I lived in Australia. Since I didn’t know much chemistry at the time, my first ventures were actually somewhat dangerous because these were obviously thrilling to do. Making hydrochloric acid from table salt and sulphuric acid extracted from an old car battery, constructing ‘sparkler bombs’ that I set off with a mate, trying to extract compounds from plants using petrol, and after discovering a propane torch with two full tanks in a cupboard, melting stuff like lead sinkers and NaCl. After I moved house and discovered that shops sell some neat reagents, that’s when my chemistry interest really took off, most notably the synthesis of chloroform using calcium hypochlorite, methylated spirits, and lye, although I had to put the practical side on hold for a while when I had an unfortunate accident, where my mother knocked over a cup containing the crude solution and suffered slight burns to her leg from the NaOH, but it wasn’t anything serious. From there it just continued really, having now moved to the UK and with a bank account, I was ordering reagents and glassware left right and centre to continue exploring syntheses, and here we are today, with school chemistry qualifications under my belt and a newfound knowledge set.

Ubya - 11-3-2018 at 16:41

my passion for chemistry started so long ago that i can't even remember the exact moment, it has been always a part of me. my parents told me that when i was really young (1-3 years) i annoyed them with questions about everything, how does that thing work, why does this do that etc. when i was 4 i got diagnosed with bradycardia so i needed a pacemaker. my parents never hid from me what i had (the doctors thought it was better if i knew nothing) so my curiosity for what i had grew. i started to draw human skeletons and anatomical representations of the human body (organs, muscles, etc), and in general i started to think of how things work, how to manipulate them, how to turn something in something else. i remember young me building or modifying toys to make them do other stuff. i don't know exactly when but maybe between 6 and 8 i started loving chemistry,the power of building molecules, turning a compound into another and the magic of colored solutions, crystals, explosives (yes kid me liked to make bombs hahahaha). when my parents bought me a child chemistry kit i got super excited (i was 8 but the kit was for 12 years old), it had copper sulphate and cobalt chloride (cobalt!?!?! yes now i know hahahaha), in just a few days i completed all the experiences written in the manual, so i started to experiment by myself with stuff from around the house, vinegar, my mom pills, hydrogen peroxide etc. i did a mess hahahaha
and from then i experimented with everything, thinking how i could use normal products, reading the ingredients for every cleaning product or solvent, i started to think like a chemist,
when my mom buys bleach i see sodium hypochlorite, drain cleaner? =hydrochloric acid, and so on for every product

Vicarious3rdEye2 - 12-3-2018 at 17:35

You guys and girls thank you for the replies these are awesome!

I always wanted to learn chemistry I even remember tinkering with the colored liquid soap dropping in water and seeing it fall and make a colored shape that looked like an atomic bomb mushroom cloud. I guess now realizing I was playing with liquids of different densities or at least what looked like it. This was when I was at least 4 when my parents would give me a bath.

I love hearing about people talking about what they love and why. I love that MacGyver style inspired mindset. And I wish the part about Breaking Bad that had that feeling of solving problems with chemistry were in more films and shows, even it wasn't all stuff that was realistic it was closer than most if any modern shows.

I too really hate it when I have a friend over and they see my lab for the first time and all the reagents and immediately connect it with breaking bad and the illicit production of drugs. I won't get into politics as this forum is not about it but I think it's an inadvertent consequence on "the war on drugs" which has backfired to hard it's ridiculous.

I always try when I can to make chemistry appear the a good light when a conversation pops up about something that can be related to chemistry.

But please I don't want to turn this thread into something else I want to focus on what you love and why.

It is so wonderful to hear your stories and I am excited to hear more.

And yeah it is funny every time I see a parent or friend get some household product, all I see is what compounds are in it. Bar Keepers Friend = Oxalic Acid, Drain Cleaner= NaOH, or aqueous KOH depending on the brand , and H2SO4 if it is an acid based cleaner. I love just walking around hardware stores and looking at the the ingredients on the container and just love seeing unexpected compounds listed.

I remember after first learning about ionic compounds and cations/anions and looking at all the products in medicine sections in places like CVS seeing all the forms of Magnesium like it's Citrate, Hydroxide, etc

I had the biggest rush from now knowing what the ingredients meant I must of looked crazy to someone else in the isle with me lol.

Vicarious3rdEye2 - 12-3-2018 at 17:39

I too also partially got interested from Cody from Cody's Lab videos of refining precious metals. I love the explanation he used for the process of inquarting gold with silver to bring the percentage down before treating it with Nitric Acid to convert the Silver to AgNO3 while leaving the Gold behind by using a video he made with MineCraft

I thought that was genius and funny at the same time!

phlogiston - 12-3-2018 at 18:24

My dad was head of a laboratory that was doing stem cell research in the 70's and 80's. He sometimes went to work in the weekends, and I got to join him whenever I could and I found the lab an incredibly interesting environment. There were lasers, computers (remember these were the 70's/80's. Access to computers was rare), vats of algae bubbling away, radioactive materials, and electron microscopes and lots of stuff I could not understand as a 10-year old but that I found endlessly fascinating.
I also tremendously enjoyed talking with him on the way there in the car. I vividly remember how he explained Darwins theory of evolution. I intuitively felt that it was 'right' immediately, but I struggled to accept the timescale at which evolution happens. In hindsight, I can see how he must have enjoyed my being interested.
Without any doubt, he noted and stimulated my interest in the natural sciences. Today, I enjoy reading and being able to understand his papers in scientific journals from those days when I was little (and before), understanding now what questions were on his scientific mind at that time.

[Edited on 13-3-2018 by phlogiston]

Reboot - 13-3-2018 at 16:21

Glow sticks. I was about fourteen and got ahold of what was then a hot new consumer item; the neon green glow stick. It was pure magic. After a bit of waving it about I cut it open and sprinkled the glowing liquid all over the back yard.

Eventually it became a more intellectual exercise, but my heart has never forgotten the joy of dancing in the moonlight with the old pagan gods. :-)

chemplayer... - 26-3-2018 at 02:15

We were originally inspired by watching videos too!

aga - 26-3-2018 at 11:23

I stopped drinking for a week. It was an eye-opener !

Engineering, Chemistry and Medicine all suddenly became really attractive subjects to study.

Luckily the first website i came across that sold chemicals (and sounded good) was run by blogfast25.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Velzee - 26-5-2019 at 20:12

Hmm. This is a great question!

I believe my interest started way, way back to probably before second grade, from a bicarbonate volcano project I had done, but I probably had shown interest way before that as well.

However, I do remember when my interest was piqued when I discovered YouTube in 2008 when I was 9 :D

Oddly, I would constantly look up and watch videos describing poisonous plants and mushrooms, among other things, such as the color changing coin trick. It wouldn't be until a little later at maybe the age of 11 or so, that I would start to mix random household chemicals, despite what I had read online about certain mixtures being potentially dangerous. Now that I realize it, I think I started doing that because I honestly did not believe that mixing so and so together would 'magically' hurt me. I guess you can say my first unaided reaction was NaOCl + NH3 --> NH2Cl + NaOH, in a jar. In retrospect, not a good idea. I would open it, only to have my eyes water severely and have my nose burning and running, and I would go on to show this discovery to my friends. Although, this was before I had even realized exactly what elements consisted such reagents.

I would eventually cease interest for a while, because I had kid stuff to do, like video games and whatnot.

When I was 13, I began to pick up on the videos I used to watch. I truly sat and wondered one day, "how is it possible that a gas is released when mixing vinegar and baking soda?" So, I began to research. I spent my free time just watching and reading; TheHomeScientist, MrHomeScientist, Nile Red; these were my first channels(among other smaller ones that I forgot).

I was truly fascinated by the world around me; I was blessed with a new perspective in life. How can such atoms and molecules and reactions happen to be right under our noses, literally?

And, finally, my first 'educated' reaction was that of:

\[3CuSO_4 + 4Al + 6H2O \overset{NaCl}{\rightarrow}Al_2(SO_4)_3 + 2Al(OH)_3 + 3Cu + 3H_2\]

And I guess it continued from there :)

[Edited on 5/27/2019 by Velzee]

[Edited on 5/27/2019 by Velzee]

woelen - 27-5-2019 at 10:56

As a kid I already had interest in all kinds of technology and science. I read books about space, planets and other celestial objects when I was 10 years old. Lateron my interests became wider. I also read books about electronics (e.g. basics of a transistor, resistor, capacitor, inductor) and I purchased some electronics components when I was 14 years old or so. I used pocket money and my parents sometimes gave a little extra money.

At school, when I was 15, we had our first chemistry lesson. The first chemistry lesson was just a bunch of demonstrations in order to spike the kids' interest. The demos were:
- ignition of a mix of KClO3 and sulphur
- dissolving a piece of copper in concentrated HNO3 in a long flask with flat bottom
- making H2 and O2 in small amounts and mixing them to make a loud bang

These demos made a deep impression on me and I was converted to the goddess of chemistry at once :P

At that point I though WOW and I want to read more about that. I went to the library the same week and got books about chemistry experiments which could be done at home. We are talking about 1981 or so, so no internet and other online sources. I went to drugstores in my town and with pocket money I bought NaOH, KNO3, HCl (30%), NH3 (25%), KClO3, CuSO4.5H2O, KMnO4, K2Cr2O7, S, C, I2, KI, KBr, Na2S2O3.5H2O. All of them in small quantities of 100 grams or so, available at prices of a few guilders per 100 grams, except the I2 and KI, which were very expensive and I only could afford 10 grams or so of each. I mixed KNO3 with S and C, mixed it with sugar, and also did experiments with graphite rods from old batteries. My glassware was empty glass jars from peanut butter, mayonaise and that kind of things and empty miniature bottles with 50 ml of booze.
Those were great times. In the period from 1981 to 1984 (when I was 15 to 18 years old) I did lots of experiments, all around the house with chemicals purchased locally. When I was a little older (17 years or so), drugstores were willing to sell 96% H2SO4 and 58% HNO3. They knew me over the years and knew how I proceeded with my experiments. One of these shop owners actually liked me very much and was really helpful and he even offered me to order chemicals for purchase price which normally were not present in a drugstore (e.g. K4Fe(CN)6, Fe2(SO4)3, FeSO4.7H2O). I was amazed by the deep purple vapor of I2, the color changes of mixing K4Fe(CN)6 with iron(III) salts, the deep yellow color of gaseous ClO2, made from KClO3 and 30% HCl or the fact that metals can form gaseous compounds, like the red vapor of CrO2Cl2, which I made from K2Cr2O7, NaCl and a few drops of H2SO4. The reaction product of KMnO4 with H2SO4 also impressed me very much, I read about it in a really obscure book from a library, I don't know its title anymore (remember, this is the 1980's I am talking about).

When I was 18 years old, I started my studies on a university (electrical engineering) and I had to move out of town. During those years, I had no room for my chemicals and abandoned the hobby of chemistry. I stored all chemicals in my parents' house, tightly sealed. There has been a long time of non-activity.

In the year 2001 or so (more than 15 years later), when I was settled in my own house, had a decent job and a family with two kids, some event sparked my interest again. A colleague told me about his young years about making nitroglycerine and how this totally failed, producing big brown clouds of NO2 in his parents' house. His stories raised my interest again at once, and within a few days I picked up all chemicals from my parents' house and also all electronics stuff. All of the chemicals were still OK, except the H2O2 and the concentrated bleach.
I picked up the hobby again, but the world had changed a lot. Many chemicals could not be purchased locally anymore, basic chemicals were diluted (e.g. NH3 went from 25% to 5%, bleach went from 12.5% to 4%, HCl went from 30% to 10%) and acids like HNO3 and H2SO4 were gone. At that time, however, we had the rise of the internet and soon I discovered that many things became available online. I also discovered forums, like sciencemadness, and discovered a whole new dimension on the hobby of home chemistry. Since then I have acquired many different chemicals, also very rare ones, which would be totally out of reach for me in the 1980's, such as lanthanide compounds, rhenium, ruthenium, cesium compounds, and much more. Every first-row transition metal now came into my reach, in the 1980's it was limited to iron, chromium, manganese, copper and zinc. Vanadium or titanium compounds were simply unheard of.

Unfortunately I also see the other side. Locally, hardly any chemicals are available anymore, and the way I started as a 14-year old kid with all the fun stuff available in local shops for a little pocket money is long behind us. We now have a very paradoxical situation. More knowledge and also more chemicals are available, also to amateurs, than ever before (even when all the recent regulations are taken into account), but only online through eBay and specialized shops. Locally, where a 14-year old boy can get his stuff, hardly anything is available anymore and this may be killing for the hobby of home chemistry in the long run. I picked up the running of my hobby from online sources, because I already had experienced the wonders of home science in my young years and wanted to have that feeling of wonder again. But for someone who does not have that experience as a young boy or girl it most likely is not interesting to start home science as a hobby when money and other resources are available for starting such a hobby. I think that for nearly everyone this hobby starts when he/she is young.

I know too many people now, who work in science, but who do not have a real heart for science. For them, science is a commercial endeavor, the least boring way for them to make money. But "the least boring one" is something totally different from "the most amazing one" :(

[Edited on 27-5-19 by woelen]

karlos³ - 27-5-2019 at 12:11

In school, I had a very bad teacher for chemistry and was rather fond of biology.
I was also very fond of psychoactive drugs, so I started with (ethno)botany and mycology as hobby rather early.
After I read a certain book(psychedelic shamanism) describing an easy acid-base extraction, I understand why and what is done there and my fascination grew quite quickly after I did this process(the extraction of dimethyltryptamine), I started to understand what all can be done with chemistry and began almost feverish to read as much scientific literature together with plain cookery stuff.

This was the moment I realised, this is a fascination that will never stop, that will always grow further.
I don't know when I realised it was a passion for me, I was to busy with the hobby.
Soon, I started to begin job training in a chemistry lab, a job concentrated on the practical aspects.
Somewhere during that I realised it is not just a hobby, not just work, but a lifestyle :)
That is around 15 years ago now and it really has never stopped, I only got more and more passionate :D

Twospoons - 27-5-2019 at 14:07

No watershed moment for me. I've just always been interested in science and engineering - right from when i was 3 and building dams in the kindergarten sandpit.

nezza - 30-5-2019 at 04:21

Walking into my first real chemistry class and the teacher asking us one simple question - "What are the characteristics of metals". This followed on in fairly short order to him showing us a few metals including sodium. I was hooked.

Pumukli - 30-5-2019 at 10:24

Very well written story, Woelen!

My earliest chemistry related memory goes back when I was around 5. I remember a day which was off from kindergarten and I was at home. (Or maybe on sick-leave, who knows?)

I was sitting at my small desk and playing with something, maybe a toy car, but was bored. Then -apparently out of blue- I asked my mother who was doing things in the kitchen, that "Could you please give me a bit of chemicals?" :)

My mom was surprised and told me that chemicals are dangerous and such, but I know she was a bit proud of me too. This was probably the first sign that I have scientific interest.

My story has much in common with Woelen's! At around 9 or 10 I asked my dad to buy me a few electronic components when he visited the state's capital one day. I still have that BFY90 transistor he brought home. (It is an rf transistor and I built low-freq circuits mostly.)

Then I found some chemistry books of my elders and other relatives and I became fascinated by the short descriptions of various experiments. Unfortunately I had no real chemicals except what one could find around the house. I remember when I wanted to duplicate the S + Zn powder ignition experiment one day, with a "minor" twist: I substituted table salt with the Zn powder! :D It did not worked of course, although I worked hard to scrape off sulfur from my dad's supply of wine making sulfur strips!

Then I met with the local pharmacist who was positively surprised by my chemistry knowledge and he gave me every chemical I desired - and his shop carried! He also ordered some exotic stuff exclusively for me and sold it to me on purchase price, sometimes even for free! (Exotic: the central pharmacy warehouse carried it but was not in official use as a drug, eg. ethyl-acetate, methanol, etc.) I still have some stuff from these long gone days.

At 14 I made my first "official" laboratory: a corner with a desk and a few shelves in my father's shed. :)
At 15 I asked "Santa" to bring me some glassware (beakers, Erlenmeyers, test tubes, basic stuff) and some chemicals: KSCN, Sodium-acetate-trihidrate, and a 250 ml bottle of conc. nitric acid! Yes, in those days Santa could go in a shop and buy these things without much (any) fuss... :)
Then in the summer vacation I borrowed my girlfriend's chemistry book (she was a year older than me) and became fascinated by organic chemistry! I finished her book in a few days and was very eager to go to school again in September to learn from that book. In that year we got a new chemistry teacher who also appreciated my knowledge (vacation learning payed off) and granted me access to the school's chemistry laboratory - with his supervision. And to his personal chemistry books, mostly university-level things. :-)

The rest is history.

I'm curious whether my kids will develop any interest in this field. I do remember that one day my older kid (4 years old at that time) told me: "Dad, let's make some poison!" When he was 6 the kids had to make drawings about what they expect from Santa. Guess what my boy drew? A box of neongreen something. When the nurse asked him what it was he simply told her the obvious: "Plutonium, of course!" :D

[Edited on 30-5-2019 by Pumukli]

teodor - 1-7-2019 at 04:01

I don't remember the first moment, probably I was too-o-o young. Probably printing black and white photos with my mother (probably I was sitting on her knees), making all solutions for the process from components using precision balances (the fact that I can't touch weights by hands and should use tweezers was amazing). I very liked to make solutions for the photo process. My uncle had a good laboratory skills and studied me how to make it in accurate way - like decanting liquids with help of a glass pipe etc. He said his skills are not enough to make solutions for colour process. It sounded like a challenge.

I started to read all books about chemistry which I had in my house. Probably I was 7-9 years old boy when I started to read articles from encyclopedia - we had more than 30 volumes and I probably red all articles about compounds. How to get them etc. It was one of my first books.

Unfortunately the family tried to keep me as far from chemistry as possible. So, I read those articles when nobody can see.

The reason was that my grandfather's brother was a chemist and he has died from misfortune of getting phosgene by an accident when the flask was broken. So, the fear that I can become a chemist was the main fear of my mother.

Well, I did a lot of chemistry in my school years and I can write a lot about it, but generally it was mostly tries to get chemicals I don't have based on what I already have.

Then I forget about my hobby for 20 years or so and returned to it because I realized that with a help of internet I can buy chemicals I was lot dreaming about as well as to get information I was wanted in my childhood but has no ability to find.

Pyro_cat - 9-11-2019 at 19:10

At a very early age I remember being fascinated by the science scenes in cartoons and TV shows.

[Edited on 10-11-2019 by Pyro_cat]

vibbzlab - 9-11-2019 at 19:18

I learnt in lower classes that red ants have formic acid in them.I started my Chemistry career by killing those red ants and testing the acid in them by using a blue litmus paper. I wasn't cruel, was I? xD . To be honest it actually worked and turned the litmus red lol.

Pyro_cat - 9-11-2019 at 19:26

Quote: Originally posted by vibbzlab  
I learnt in lower classes that red ants have formic acid in them.I started my Chemistry career by killing those red ants and testing the acid in them by using a blue litmus paper. I wasn't cruel, was I? xD . To be honest it actually worked and turned the litmus red lol.

I learned in the world book encyclopedia behind the chair in the TV room that ants and junipers both have that acid. If I remember right.

wg48temp9 - 10-11-2019 at 01:45

I don't remember when I first become interested in science, electronics and chemistry in particular. It must have been before I was ten.
I do have memories of watching and helping my father make fireworks and watching his experiments with rockets and fountains. He made a small brass cannon for me and gave me black powder to fire it. My grandfather had a type printing business and I watch him and my father casting type using a coal fire to melt broken type. My father also made small plates for the printing press using a photographic and etching process and by hand carving or copper plating wax impressions. One of my uncles was a tinkerer too he would collaborate with my father on projects. I can still remember going to a science exhibition with them when I saw an induction heating machine that levitated small blocks of steel and heated them to a bright red colour when they would abruptly drop in to a bucket water. Both my father and grandfather had died by my mid-teens. My mother made jewellery and altered dresses for many years. I guess you could say my fascination with science is in my blood.

My sister became a glass artist and jewellery maker and I still help her on occasions with technical stuff. Yes it must be in our blood LOL.

I do try to encourage my great nieces and nephews when I mange to distract them from the TV, computer games and soon the web.

[Edited on 11/10/2019 by wg48temp9]

markx - 10-11-2019 at 15:13

I must admit that for the life of me I can not recall the moment or event that nudged me towards an interest in chemistry. That interest has always been there, even way before I could have known about the concept of chemistry in any possible way.

The first encounter that I can remember very faintly was at about the age of maybe three or four when I discovered a cupboard that my father kept the insecticides in. I found it to be the most magical and interesting place that possibly could exist....and I explored it thoroughly. Which of course did not provoke a positive reaction in my parents. Rather an excessive panic attack and horror that culminated in a huge argument and physical punishment. And to my great dismay the magical cupboard was relocated into a high place that I could not reach....and when I finally figured out how to reach it, I found that it was locked! Talk about adding injury to insult :D

I remember my dad acquired a set of empty chemical bottles and other interesting vessels for me to play with in an attempt to keep me from trying to raid the insecticide "warehouse", but really without the contents the bottles were for some reason very boring.

And so it progressed, the "itch" never left and in time I learned the proper way to scratch it. But way before that my parents gave up on trying to scare me away from my unhealthy hobby and found it is easier to just let me be.

S.C. Wack - 10-11-2019 at 15:44

Quote: Originally posted by Pyro_cat  
At a very early age I remember being fascinated by the science scenes in cartoons and TV shows.

Beaker of the Muppet Show is probably the funniest character ever played on TV (maybe tied with Mr Bill); the show did coincide with the arrival of an unasked for IIRC chemistry set and chemicals a bit advanced for my age, and abuse of same. I had plenty of unsupervised spare time.

[Edited on 10-11-2019 by S.C. Wack]

Tellurium - 12-11-2019 at 09:26

Well my passion for chemistry started when I was really young, I was in the first grade, so I was probably around 6 years old.
I already learned how to read and write when I was in kindergarten, so I was a bit bored at school and wanted to learn something new.
Chemistry in movies and television(especially documentaries) was always very interesting to me, so I convinced my parents, that I really need a small chemistry kit and that's how it all started.
After that first chemistry kit in first class I got a whole lot of new chemistry kits for Christmas, birthday, etc.
At the age of around 8 I started to search for experiments and later also small inorganic syntheses and buying the reagents on my own from my pocket money. By the way the first synthesis was making KCN from the Potassium ferrocyanide, I can still remember this, because I was quite afraid:D
However over the years both chemicals and knowledge grew, now I'm mostly into organic synthesis and also doing chemistry for a living. Currently I'm a lab technician, but to be honest the job doesn't really challenge me and I will start to go to university next year.

What really disturbs me is, how chemophobic not only many people are, but especially how chemophobic the country I'm living in is. Now I have no problems getting any chemicals, but under normal circumstances it is a really big trouble getting most chemicals here or at least getting them without appearing on some kind of watchlist. A friend of mine even got a police raid at his house because he ordered beakers from a shop that also sold some chemicals to some terrorists by accident, so all customers were "visited" by police. On one hand the many years where I did not have free access to most chemicals told me a lot how to improvise or think "outside the box". But on the other hand I think, that we would have a lot more people, that are passionate about chemistry and maybe even contribute something useful to society, if the hobby would be more easily accessible here :(

[Edited on 12-11-2019 by Tellurium]

Pyro_cat - 13-11-2019 at 19:06

Quote: Originally posted by markx  

I remember my dad acquired a set of empty chemical bottles and other interesting vessels for me to play with in an attempt to keep me from trying to raid the insecticide "warehouse", but really without the contents the bottles were for some reason very boring.

And so it progressed, the "itch" never left and in time I learned the proper way to scratch it. But way before that my parents gave up on trying to scare me away from my unhealthy hobby and found it is easier to just let me be.

Similar story.

I had the electricity bug bad and was allowed to play with batteries but around 8 or 9 years old they just gave up on trying to keep me away from the wall sockets as a power source for my experiments.

VSEPR_VOID - 23-11-2019 at 18:57

When I wiped the chard remnants of my eye brows off

B(a)P - 24-11-2019 at 02:20

I grew up in a rural area and attended a small school. There was me and one other in my later years of chemistry. My teacher allowed us to make picric acid to demonstrate a nitration. From then on I was hooked.