Blowpipe kit and three blowpipes, 19th century.
3 2 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 24cm

Blowpipe kit and three blowpipes, 19th century.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Boxed set including a blowpipe, tweezers and chemicals for testing. The colour the flame produced during a flame test often indicates the identity of the substance being tested. For example, a potasium compound burns with a lilac flame. This set was made by W A Taylor of Penzance. Beside the box are reproductions of three mouth blowpipes which belonged to the English chemists William Hyde Wollaston (1766-1828), Smithson Tennant (1761-1815) and the Swedish chemist Tobern Olof Bergman (1735-1784). Blowing through the pipe over a candle providing a heat source produced a tiny area of intense heat on a charcoal block. This created the correct conditions for reducing many metals from their ores.

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