Books of Interest to Caveman Chemists

Buy Caveman Chemistry

Caveman Chemistry is available directly from the publisher in paperback ($29.95 US). There are three electronic editions ($15.00 US): the ByteSize edition has advanced features for searching and annotating the book, the Amazon edition is in Adobe Reader format, and the PDF edition has full-color graphics.

Kevin Dunn. Caveman Chemistry Order from the Publisher Order ByteSize eBook Edition Order PDF eBook Edition.

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If I hadn't written this book I would definitely buy a copy. Whatever hype I give it is bound to be suspect, so listen to what other people have said:

Antoine Lavoisier: I have long thought that a work of this kind was much wanted, and I am convinced that it will not be without use.

Sir William Crookes: We cannot let this work pass out of our hands without expressing the hope that, at no distant date, Chairs of Technology will be founded in all our Universities, and that the subject will be included in the curriculum of every large school.

Lewis Carroll: The reading of this book is a very small part of the business; the real occupation and the real enjoyment come when the reader has gained the power of solving for himself the fascinating problems of the Science.

OK, so they weren't neccessarily talking about my book. But what do you care what other people think? The entire book is available for browsing. Take a look and make up your own mind.


The outstanding collection of projects includes a few for the production of commodity chemicals that I particularly admire, for both their specific contents and their relatively unique pedagogical contribution. After all, the milestones of modern industrial society are chemical processes--such as those for the production of sulfuric acid, ammonia, and sodium sulfate--that most people neither understand nor appreciate, and there's no better way I can imagine for coming to understand these crucial technologies than by replicating them yourself. Kevin Dunn's book will show you how.

--Sean Ragan, Make Magazine

Some sections may be more understandable to someone taking the course, but teachers, chemistry students, history buffs, and cavemen and cavewomen will all find something of value and interest in the book.

--Ronald Tempest, Chemical Heritage

Clear instructions are given for 28 projects, which include how to make bronze from metal ores; glass from sand, ashes, and limestone; paper from grass or straw; soap from fat; alcohol from honey; photographs from egg whites; chlorine from salt water; and celluloid from cotton.

--Colin Baker, Education in Chemistry

Clearly Dunn's heart is in the right place, in that he wants to bring the initial stages of chemistry to life by linking them to everyday objects and showing how they can be made, and talking about the chemical reactions behind their making. ... Indeed it is clear that Dunn is no mean scholar, and it is possible to extract an excellent history of the origins of the chemical industry from his book.

--John Emsley, Chemistry & Industry

Caveman Chemistry would be ideal as a supplemental text in an honors chemistry class or interdisciplinary seminar, for stand-alone use in a course for non-chemistry majors, or especially as an enrichment resource for gifted secondary students. It would also be a wonderful introductory text for those studying the history of technology or experimental archaeology. In light of the mediocrity of writing in many contemporary science textbooks, especially at the public school level, Dunn's distinctive voice and wide-ranging yet intense delivery add to this book's strong appeal.

--Michael Matthews, Journal of Chemical Education

In every case, the emphasis is on using materials at hand, for two reasons: students should learn to make things from scratch, and know what they have made—bicarbonate of soda or ethanol, for example. Along the way, he provides much more than just chemistry-set recipes: reaction diagrams are given, as well as the equations, and the history of our ancestors' increasing ability to make the chemicals and products we now take for granted is explained in considerable detail.

--Jonathan Beard,

Some people seem to think that automobiles, camcorders, and plastics grow on trees. Suggest to the bonehead that someone had to design the product and someone had to create the raw materials that went into it, and they're stunned. Suggest to them that real people can smelt metal from ore, make a battery, make their own photographic film, explosives or plastics, and they just won't believe you. But this book shows how you can do just those things.

--Lindsay Technical Books,