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Memories from my Schooldays - The Sodium Incident

Memories from my Schooldays - The Sodium Incident

It started many years ago when I was at Marple Hall Grammar School (age 16). I had the ability to locate and buy all sorts of unusual stuff.

I remember once I needed sodium metal. It's highly volatile and reacts violently if exposed to air or water. It has to be stored under oil. This was way before the internet of course and I could not even use our phone.

I pondered. I figured Manchester University must have suppliers. So I got on the bus and went to the University. I walked around until I found this strange looking chemist shop opposite the University. I went in. It looked like something from a bygone era with dim lighting and lots of dark bottles.

The chemist came out. He looked crazy. He pulled down my eye and told me I had anemia.

I decided to be confident. "I need a pound of sodium, under oil of course". He looked at me. I looked at him. He went in the back and returned with a huge dark jar. I paid him.

Riding home on the bus the conductor asked if the dark jar was dangerous. I smiled and said no.

Back in school I dropped the 1 lb of sodium into a drain in the playground. There was this strange delay where everybody wondered what would happen. Then the whole thing suddenly blew!

Of course today it's much easier to find stuff. Just go to Amazon. But I bet you still won't find 1 lb of sodium metal under oil. LOL!!!

Tech Notes:

Content written and posted by Ken Abbott
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