Letter to the editor

•   The November 2012 issue of Chem 13 News had an article on 2-L Whoosh bottles by Ken Lyle. It didn't reference the safety articles I published in both Chem 13 News and JCE. There was an accident in a school in Cincinnati with the 2-L pop bottles where several students were badly burnt from hot alcohol. Please keep in mind that the bottles should not be recharged while hot and methanol should not be used in these soft bottles — they may melt. The November article only lists ethanol or isopropanol but it is good to point out what NOT to use — methanol.

[Editor: Thanks for the safety reminder about the Whoosh Bottle and for providing the reference to the article called Safety Precautions for the Ring of Fire and the Whoosh Bottle (on page 1 of the September 1999 issue of Chem 13 News). The article has several notes on safety, such as: it is better to use 70% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) than methanol; do not use undiluted alcohol in a glass bottle; and always use a safety shield. Ken Lyle also remarked that a new 2-L bottle is used each time he does this demonstration.

A short discussion on methanol safety with respect to the Whoosh bottle can be found on the Chem 13 News website, under Issues, December 2007, pages 4-5.

Interestingly, after a quick look on YouTube, I saw several Whoosh bottle videos — many with no safety shield and individuals in close proximity to the demonstration bottle. If you would like a copy of John's safety article of the Whoosh Bottle, email me, Jean Hein (jhein@uwaterloo.ca) and I will send you one.]