Saturday, January 17, 2015

All in the Name of Science!

Just when you think life is calming down... things blow up.  I am not just speaking figuratively either, I mean a physical, literal explosion.  In my newly remodeled kitchen.  While I was out of the house.  In the name of science.  This would be a great opening for a new Dr. Suess book.  An additional chapter in all science books entitled "What NOT to do during a home experiment ".  Perhaps it was just for the sole purpose, of a blog post involving a dwarf that gets minimal attention.  Dopey.

So let me set the stage a bit.  Dopey is one class away from being finished with his high school academic career, as a junior. He opted to take an online Biology course, so that at the end of this year in June, he is finished with all high school required classes,  and will be able to just concentrate on taking classes at the local community college through the state's duel enrollment program during his "senior" year.

We enrolled in the online class and Dopey has been diligent in light of his current classes, and working, to get the lessons done and turned in on time.  Except this one experiment.  So in an attempt to free his weekend, while I was out of the house, he started his very "simple" experiment on evaporation.

Assignment overview:  take three liquids, and boil them, timing the exact amount of time it takes all three liquids (one of them being water) as they went from room temperature to boil through evaporation.  Simple!

So the first pot was water.  The second was vegetable oil.  The third was hydrogen peroxide.  

I got the call as I was 20 minutes out from the house.  From the dwarf that pays for the privilege of a cell phone and NEVER uses it!   So to say I was curious when I saw my phone ringing from him, is an understatement.  I answer to a perfectly calm voice, saying " Mom, I was working on my experiment, and had a little fire, but everything is okay."  My response was equally calm, "Okay, I am about 20 minutes out, tell me the details.  Are you okay?  Is the house okay?  Where are your brothers?  Is everyone okay?"  "Yes mom we are all fine.  I cleaned up most of the mess, it is okay."  

He continues to tell me that the vegetable oil, boiled, but at some point, when he looked away for just a minute, it caught on fire.  He continues that he was able to put the pot in the sink, and the fire kept getting bigger, so he threw on the water to dose it... and the flame got even bigger and then exploded.

To say that he was lucky is an understatement.  Had the window in front of the sink been closed, the fire and explosion would have come back in his face.  Earlier he had opened the window because the oil was initially smelling bad and making smoke as it heated up.

Until I got home to assess the mess with my own two eyes, I was calm and unaffected, however this home experiment could have gone horribly wrong and Dopey is one very fortunate dwarf!  

While he has experienced a few splatter burns on his wrist, and upper arm, overall he has escaped unscathed.  (Mortified because even his 12 year old brother knew how to put out a grease fire.)  Our newly remodeled kitchen... while not horrible, was not so lucky.
The casualties:
The ceiling that was just freshly done this past May as part of the remodel
A singed pencil tree and ornaments that were in the window
A few decorations from the top of the cabinets that need washing and cleaning thoroughly
The outdoor ceiling on the other side of the window that looks just like the inside one that will need scrubbing and repainting.  

Some lessons are best learned the hard way.  Lessons learned by Dopey... read all the instructions on the lab before starting!  The last line of the instructions said, never work at home without the supervision of a parent.   Most importantly, when there is a grease fire, do NOT ever add water. 

I think that Bashful summed up the day best as we all safely sat around the table for dinner, with grateful hearts,  last night sharing our favorite part of the day.  And I quote...  "My favorite part of the day was watching the fire and the explosion in first person!"  

Really, I can't make this stuff up! 


  1. I think you've created a pyromaniac! I must say that I think that look of the ceiling adds a dimension missing from most kitchens... it adds intrigue. It could be a conversation starter: "That's an interesting way to paint your ceiling? How did you come up with that idea?"

    1. Yes, while you are correct, most kitchens lack intrigue, we have plenty to talk about with a 12 foot table adorning the center of the room.... but the conversation starter would have been a good one if I could a) stand a mess for a long period of time b) have things that are mismatched in my house!

  2. My sister wanted to wax her brows once. She thought paraffin was the type to use. Parents not home, maybe just her and myself and maybe our 2 younger siblings. Of course, the paraffin caught on fire and burned a nice hole in the ceiling tile. Handy, dandy kitchen fire extinguisher put it out. Pretty scary event, but not as scary as having to explain it to parents!! Dopey is very lucky! And your ceiling doesn't look too bad.... :)