Chemistry set

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For other uses, see Chemistry set (disambiguation).
Porter Chemcraft Senior Set, 1957, at the Chemical Heritage Foundation
External video
CHF Museum-Jan2013-055.tif
Education for a New Generation: The Chemistry Set in History , Chemical Heritage Foundation
Griffin’s Chemical Laboratory, Glasgow, ca.1850.
A 1940s Gilbert chemistry set
Gilbert Lab Technician Set for Girls, 1958, at the Chemical Heritage Foundation

A chemistry set is an educational toy allowing the user (typically a teenager) to perform simple chemistry experiments.

Some of the earliest chemistry sets were developed in the 18th century in England and Germany, for use in teaching. More modern chemistry sets from the 1900s were intended to be toys. The best known such sets were produced by the A. C. Gilbert Company, an early and middle 20th-century American manufacturer of educational toys. Porter Chemical Company, with the Chemcraft sets, and the Skilcraft corporation were other manufacturers. Well known chemistry sets from the United Kingdom include the 1960s and 1970s sets by Thomas Salter Science (produced in Scotland) and later Salter Science, then the "MERIT" sets through the 1970s and 1980s. Dekkertoys created a range of sets which were similar, complete with glass test tubes of dry chemicals. The modern offerings, with a few exceptions, tend to have less in the way of chemicals and very simplified instructions. A GCSE equipment set was produced offering students better quality equipment, and there is also a more up market range of sets available from Thames & Kosmos such as the C3000 Kit.[1][2]

Several authors have noted that from the 1980s on, concerns about illegal drug production, terrorism and legal liability have led to chemistry sets becoming increasingly bland and unexciting.[3][4]


Typical contents found in chemistry sets, including equipment and chemicals, might include:



The experiments described in the instruction manual typically require a number of chemicals not shipped with the chemistry set, because they are common household chemicals:

Other chemicals, including strong acids, bases and oxidizers cannot be safely shipped with the set and others having a limited shelf life have to be purchased separately from a drug store:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stanley, Norm (July 12, 2002). "Amateur Science, 1900-1950: A Historical Overview". Proceedings and Presentations of the First Annual Citizen Science Conference. Society for Amateur Scientists. Archived from the original on 2008-04-30. Retrieved February 16, 2011. 
  2. ^ DiVernieri, Rosie (2006). "The Chemistry Set: From Toy to Icon". Chemical Heritage Magazine (Chemical Heritage Foundation) 24 (1): 22. 
  3. ^ Von Korff, R.W. (2006). "Where Have the Chemistry Sets Gone?". The Midland Chemist (American Chemical Society) 43 (5). 
  4. ^ Fuscaldo, Donna (December 11, 2007). "The Grinch Who Stole the Chemistry Set". Philosophy of Science Portal. Retrieved February 16, 2011. 

External links[edit]