Your mention in Ben Goldacre's Guardian column bought me to your very
enjoyable Sodium Party page and made me feel the need to confess some
similar sodium-based antics of my own many years ago.
This was when I was about 14 or 15 and a friend at the time was working in
the school chemistry storeroom and managed to procure a whole jar of
sodium, amongst other things he was commissioned to acquire for another
friend who was making their own fireworks. (As an adult and now father of
my own children, it's re-assuring to note that the jar's absence was
finally noticed and all those connected were severely reprimanded -
although I'm not sure anyone quite realised the true severity of what we
got up to). I'm not sure why the sodium - it must have been mentioned in
the same sentence as the word 'explosive' in a Chemistry lesson.
It's going back a bit now, but I remember that one very cold morning on the
way to school three large chunks of sodium where thrown 20 feet or so over
the hedge into the closed-up and frozen-over swimming pool in the local
park. Two or three minutes later we were on the the other side of the park
entirely, when the noise of one almighty great explosion shook the
neighborhood, followed shortly later by two others during which we kept
moving very quickly in the opposite direction, stifling nervous giggles.
Not quite believing that we'd caused the mother of all big bangs in our
local outdoor pool, and too cautious to go back and look until after school
that night, we waited the whole day half-expecting to hear news reports of
an explosion. Peering in through the gates of the pool later that day
though, we could see where whole chunks of 2 inch thick ice had been blown
across the whole pool complex from three huge holes in the ice. The lumps
of sodium had obviously melted through the ice and exploded once fully
immersed in the water, lifting the ice up into the air.
Having read your descriptions of what sodium can do under such
circumstances, all I can say is that at least for once I had the good sense
not to stand and watch as the stuff went up, and to apologize to anyone who
might have been walking their dog around there at that time in the morning!
You can use any of this you like on your website, but please leave out my
name. And apologies for lack of any scientific details of any kind, but
delinquent teenagers are very bad at recording the results of their