An interesting bit of kit – that has culinary applications is a vaporizer – the interesting explora-science aspect is that it produces gases from components without burning, but by gently raising the temperature. The ancient Greeks who believed that we all had a gaseous component used something very similar to the volcano vaporizer for separating out substances into their component parts.Vaporizers are now used more for health and herbal reasons than for experimental purposes. But science will out ¬†– and even when people don’t really understand anything about these vaporizers they are very definitely carrying out a science-in-action type investigation.

The process of volatilization is ¬†really very simple – and is quite simple raising the temperature of a substance above it’s sublimation point. The reason why it’s popular with herbs is because they can be raised to temperatures above those required but in a very controlled manner – as opposed to using a flame which although simple (think about the simplicity of burning tobacco) is far from precise and introduces all sorts of incidental oxidation reactions!