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Chemistry experiments of yesterday recreated in lab

31 July 2012 Last updated at 17:21 BST

Portable chemistry sets were first used in the 18th century, and over the years have influenced generations of budding scientists.

But sales started declining in the 1970s, due partly to health and safety concerns which restricted the chemicals included in the sets.

Toxic ingredients also found in pesticides, chemicals now used in bombs or likely to increase risk of cancer, uranium dust and sodium cyanide all featured in sets of the past - a world away from what can be found in today's versions.

BBC News visited the Royal Institution's Young Scientist Centre in London, where manager Dave Porter showed some of the experiments that could be conducted with sets past and present.