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What is the purpose of hobby chemistry?

  1. Mar 3, 2017 #1
    I've recently picked up chemistry as a hobby. It's very educational while also being entertaining. I've started an element collection, and made some simple compounds as well.
    The thing is, I get asked quite frequently what is the practicality of hobby chemistry, and I have trouble providing a sufficient answer. Is there more to hobby chemistry than fun and education?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 3, 2017 #2


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    Uh ... blowing up your younger sister?
  4. Mar 3, 2017 #3


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    Why should the hobby be practical?

    Isn't fun and education more than enough?
  5. Mar 3, 2017 #4


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    Am I too far off-base here, if I say that Chemistry is not suitable as a hobby?

    There are a few Chemical related activities which might fit as "hobby", like soap-making, maybe ink-making, fabric dying which one might like to learn to do at home. Another interesting choice might be to take already available chemical data and use them in computer-programming activity. Otherwise, consider the reactivity, health, safety, and legal risks.
  6. Mar 3, 2017 #5
    I disagree. Besides the fact that really anything can be made into a hobby, I have found that [safe] chemistry can be very fun! One home chemistry experiment I performed which I found rather cool was a test to see which type of salt melts ice and snow the fastest, out of regular table salt and rock salt that is actually used to melt snow/ice on roads. Interestingly enough, the table salt actually performed better.
  7. Mar 3, 2017 #6


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    'Hobby' is not synonymous with 'ignorant and foolish'.

    Go cart racing, swimming, and cooking and can all be just as lethal if you don't know what you're doing.
  8. Mar 3, 2017 #7


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    Chemistry is therefore a bit limited as a hobby. One might want to do more than just mixing materials.

    Yes, even cooking and handling food in the kitchen can be dangerous. One may also find working-chemists, not many, but some few, who you would not trust in the home kitchen
  9. Mar 3, 2017 #8
    One could test for potential everyday-usefulness of certain compounds :partytime:
  10. Mar 3, 2017 #9


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    Yeah, testing hallucinogens for effectiveness could be fun.
  11. Mar 3, 2017 #10
    Exactly what I was thinking... :bow::wink:
  12. Mar 3, 2017 #11


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    @I720I I have to apologize for our having somewhat sidetracked your thread.
  13. Mar 3, 2017 #12
    Technically (and unfortunately), testing effectiveness of hallucinogens could actually be argued to be a chemistry hobby. But we don't need to get that technical...
  14. Mar 3, 2017 #13
    No worries, I had fun reading it. I already love chemistry and I don't need a practical use for anything I make. In fact I feel hesitant every time I use up some of my precious products. However, I am asked the question a lot by people who do not understand why someone would do anything to explore the science behind it. I was just looking for a quick practical example. Most of what I've made so far are just fungicides, and pretty things. I am only now beginning to realize how short-sighted my original question was.
  15. Mar 3, 2017 #14
    That's cool! What kinds of fungicides have you produced?
  16. Mar 3, 2017 #15
    Well these all have more uses than just fungicides, but it was a commonality I stuck with. Copper sulfate, copper chloride, and copper carbonate are all fungicides...and a lot of other "cides" I made them because they are a pretty blue, and are great for pyrotechnics. Those plus caffeine extraction, ferrofluid display, nitrous oxide production, and blowing up hydrogen balloons are about all I've done so far.
  17. Mar 3, 2017 #16
    So do you ever use them as fungicides, or just for other uses you mentioned?
  18. Mar 3, 2017 #17
    No I don't use them for that purpose. I just know what a few of their uses are. I mostly just collect them, or use them to make new compounds. The copper compounds are also an easy way to get copper powder. It just seems like I work to make something new and exciting, but celebrate by putting it on a shelf or using it to make something else that just goes on a shelf. I know how to make really strong glue, which could have a practical use, but all of my possessions are currently intact. I'll continue doing chemistry even without a practical application for it, but sometimes I wish I could put my products to good use. Maybe I'm just making the wrong stuffs.
  19. Mar 3, 2017 #18
    Perhaps you could start selling that "strong glue" and make some cash :wink:
  20. Mar 3, 2017 #19
    Honetly, copper sheet is pretty cheap, and making something to etch the copper is cheap too. Making super cheap jewelry and selling it online for profit seems like a decent "practical use"
  21. Mar 3, 2017 #20
    When I was taking chemistry at community college, there was a certain guy in my class who intrigued me. I kept wondering, is he in this class for the reason I think he is? One day, he caught me looking at him and he winked. I know what he was thinking. "Yeah, man, I'm doing what you think I'm doing. But it don't bother me that you know, cause you are one cool dude. Peace out, man." I felt relieved, because I didn't get the sense he wanted to knife me or anything like that.

    In all seriousness, I would be careful with chemistry. Just look at the laws they have in Texas now about what chemistry equipment you can legally possess. Did you know that it's illegal to own an Erlenmeyer flask unless you have it cleared, have your home lab inspected, etc? This is no joke. This is what we've come to in our so-called free country.

    Recently I was looking over one of my sacred texts, The Golden Book of Chemistry, which in its day introduced many kids to chemistry experiments. I'm not sure, but I think at least the equipment part is legal because it tends to use household items. As far as the chemicals, I'm not totally sure. If you stick to household chemicals and equipment, I would imagine you would stay within the law, but I would still be careful.

    Personally, I would get into 3D printing these days, instead of chemistry. Just don't make any guns, right?

    Stay safe and legal.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017
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