• Question: Why do you focus your experiments on setting fire to things? Does this give the most exciting results?

    Asked by EG to Sarah on 21 Nov 2014. This question was also asked by sir cheese-alot.
    • Photo: Sarah Ashwood

      Sarah Ashwood answered on 21 Nov 2014:

      I’ve always had a fascination with fire – it’s so interesting to watch and the array of colours you can get depending on what is burning can be beautiful!
      I really enjoy the outreach experiments we do with schools where we burn thinks or create mini explosions because that gets the best reaction from young people and generates the most interest as it displays how exciting chemistry can be.
      Most of the reactions I do at work however don’t involve setting fire to things – fire means you get a lot of uncontrolled oxidation and most of the time destroy complicated structures. Plus if you were setting fire I things it always has to be in a controlled way!
      I try and keep the fire for the fun experiments – when I’m teaching and interacting with other people to inspire them!