There are many safe, fun experiments that can be carried out using common household items. How about a volcano simulation using baking soda, vinegar and red food coloring? Put the vinegar in a small glass. Add a few drops of red food coloring so it looks like lava. Drop in some baking soda and stand back as your volcano erupts. This is messy so its a good idea to put your glass in a shallow baking dish. (Detailed instructions can be found at http://chemistry.helium.com/how-to/9825-how-to-simulate-a-volcanic-eruption-with ).
Vinegar and baking soda can also be used to make a model fire extinguisher (see http://chemistry.helium.com/how-to/9931-how-to-make-a-model-fire-extinguisher-with-an-acid-and-a-base for details). The same acid – carbonate base reaction can be used to make sherbet too but here the acid is citric acid instead of vinegar (see http://food-drink.helium.com/how-to/9833-how-to-make-a-fizzy-sherbet-treat-from-an-acid-and-a-base for details).
Table salt is good for experiments too. Measure the temperature of boiling water. Add salt and measure it again. The salt changes the boiling temperature of the liquid. This is a good way to demonstrate that all substances have specific, unique boiling temperatures. Another dramatic way to show the difference in boiling or burning temperatures is to boil water in paper (http://chemistry.helium.com/how-to/10296-how-to-boil-water-in-paper ). All you need for this experiment is a piece of paper, some tape and some water. Because water boils at 100 deg C and paper doesn’t burn till it reaches 233 deg C, it is possible to boil water without burning the paper. Once the water is gone though, the paper catches fire. Table salt can also be poured on ice to make a container cold enough to make home-made ice cream (http://food-drink.helium.com/how-to/9588-how-to-make-ice-cream-by-hand )
One of my favorite chemistry experiments is making plastic from milk. That’s right, Miss Muffet’s curds were actually casein, a form of plastic. Heat the milk but dont boil it. Add a bit of food coloring to make it brighter. Then add some vinegar to make the milk curdle. Separate the curds from the whey by filtration. If you don’t have proper filter paper, use a paper towel. Keep the curds and throw away the whey. Mold it into shapes and let it dry. Voila! You have milk into plastic. For more details go to http://chemistry.helium.com/how-to/9957-how-to-make-a-plastic-from-milk
There are many other experiments that can be done at home. Boil a tiny bit of water in an aluminium soft drink can, turn it upside down in cold water and the can will implode when a vacuum is created inside the can (http://physics.helium.com/how-to/9756-how-to-implode-an-aluminium-can-to-demonstrate-the-power-of-air-pressure ).
Make invisible ink with lemon juice (http://chemistry.helium.com/how-to/9864-how-to-make-invisible-ink-with-lemon-jui ). Experiment with indicators using red cabbage or flowers from the garden. Boil them and then add acids like vinegar or bases like bleach to demonstrate the change in colors. A simple chromatography apparatus can also be set up using nothing more than a glass, some methylated spirits and paper towels to separate the colors in ink (http://chemistry.helium.com/how-to/9875-how-to-use-chromatography-to-separate-dy ).
These are only a few of the many chemistry experiments that can be carried out with simple household items. There is no need for expensive glassware or dangerous chemicals. Check out this website for more ideas: http://chemistry.about.com/od/homeexperiments/Chemistry_Experiments_You_Can_Do_at_Home.htm and have fun!