Wishing for Book of 'Desert Island' Chemistry

Wishing for Book of 'Desert Island' Chemistry

Postby Dave Z » Tue Feb 14, 2017 9:26 am

I actually came to The Knowledge looking for a Book of desert island chemistry.

What I'm hoping for is a book with the following:

    Basic chemistry principles
    Basic lab tools, improvised
    Guide to natural sources for elements useful to 'survivors'
    Isolation and refinement techniques for those elements
    Useful compounds from those elements, with uses detailed
    Techniques for combination and recombination of elements and compounds
    Application oriented for initial and mid-term survival context (prior to re-boot)

Armed with such a book, I'd like to be able to go into the field and gather materials, then return to camp, assemble a rough lab, and brew up basic substances.

The Knowledge does indeed go a long way in that direction - the best I've found to date - but this is not its orientation. It's orientation is toward re-boot, and is not organized as a stand-alone reference for the would-be field chemist. Much of what I'd wish lies within, but it is diffuse, and often touches but lightly on elemental sources and isolation procedures.

If anyone knows of such a book, I'd be happy to hear of it.
Or, if anyone is interested and competent to write it, I'll be first in line!

Dave Z
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Re: Wishing for Book of 'Desert Island' Chemistry

Postby Bruce Mardle » Thu Feb 23, 2017 11:27 am

That's a subject that interests me.
I think I've gathered what I know about it from various sources.
http://cavemanchemistry.com/oldcave/ has some interesting projects, though it's far from comprehensive. (There's an update/book but I prefer the old version!)
I used to work in a museum (in a castle!). They had a copy of 'The Encyclopaedia Brittanica', ca. 1900, which includes a lot of info on the history of chemistry.
Of course, just because a chemical process was common in Olden Days doesn't mean it's necessarily ideal for a Reboot. There was one process which produced hydrogen chloride as a waste product. The factories would just send it up a chimney. Not popular with their neighbours since HCl is essentially a tear gas! It prompted the first law regulating air pollution... though, by the time that was being implemented, the manufacturers had realised that hydrochloric acid is a valuable product.
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Re: Wishing for Book of 'Desert Island' Chemistry

Postby Bruce Mardle » Thu Feb 23, 2017 11:31 am

I think modern amateur chemists (clandestine or otherwise) have created a lot of chemical processes because no major chemical company will sell any chemical that's remotely hazardous to individuals (and as Paracelsus said, it is the dose alone that makes a substance not a poison). There are lots of syntheses on YouTube, but I think most use equipment that wouldn't be on a typical desert island! (The World needs more glass-blowers!)
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