Smashing Pumpkins With Chemical Reactions

I love Halloween. The decorations, the costumes and of course the pumpkins. In my mind, you are never too old to carve a pumpkin. There's something liberating about scooping out the guts and then taking a knife and creating a maniacal masterpiece. (Now that I've committed those words to paper, I think I might have a problem.)

My tools are pretty low-tech: a knife, a scoop and a candle. For chemists, the tools are much cooler.

The University of Nottingham's Periodic Table of Videos series featured a Halloween Special a few years back. In this short video traditional pumpkins were subjected to liquid nitrogen, gel calcium acetate, and thermite and a sparkler. Check out the results.


Traci-bio-photo.jpgTraci Purdum is Chemical Processing's senior digital editor and crazed pumpkin carver. You can e-mail her at