Chemical-Free Chemistry

The other day my friends at JAYFK  posted a story about an innovative new idea in chemistry sets for young science students.

Yes, folks, the idea is that young scholars should learn about the science of chemistry through doing, um, experiments that are, um, chemical free.

I’ve been puzzling over this idea. How would a budding chemist do these “chemical free” experiments when everything in the box from plastic to paper is made of chemical compounds?  One could imagine that these small scientists  might put water in the plastic test tubes pictured below.  But, no, that would be H2O. Another known chemical compound.

Photo courtesy of JAYFK

As the folks at JAYFK note, I’ve been writing – some might say ranting – about the use of the phrase chemical-free  for some time now. I even proposed that since this is the International Year of Chemistry, we declare a ban on the phrase declare an official ban on phrase “chemical free.”

Yes, it’s an advertising phrase, yes, it theoretically indicates a product free of industrial chemicals. But it doesn’t just sell organic grapefruit. It sells the idea that all chemicals are evil and it sells the idea, apparently, that one can label a chemistry set as full of “chemical-free” options.

And it absolutely deserves its star billing in JAYFK. If you wonder why I say that, just visit there. Chemical-free chemistry could not be turn up in a more appropriately titled publication.

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