Anna (beeinmybonnet) wrote in little_details,

Test for blood stains and chemical hijinks ingeneral

When: 1881
Where: London, England
What: A Sherlock Holmes fanfiction.

I'm working on a fanfiction based on the 2009 movie'verse for a bigbang challenge, which incorporates elements from the novel A Study In Scarlet. Now, it's going along pretty well so far, until I realised that if I write from Holmes' point of view, I can't use vague terms like "the purple chemical", "grainy dust" and "it went kablooey". I need to use technical jargon. However, I was this close to failing Chemistry in high school, hence my dilemma.

"Why, man, it is the most practical medico-legal discovery for years. Don't you see that it gives us an infallible test for blood stains. Come over here now!" He seized me by the coat-sleeve in his eagerness, and drew me over to the table at which he had been working. "Let us have some fresh blood," he said, digging a long bodkin into his finger, and drawing off the resulting drop of blood in a chemical pipette. "Now, I add this small quantity of blood to a litre of water. You perceive that the resulting mixture has the appearance of pure water. The proportion of blood cannot be more than one in a million. I have no doubt, however, that we shall be able to obtain the characteristic reaction." As he spoke, he threw into the vessel a few white crystals, and then added some drops of a transparent fluid. In an instant the contents assumed a dull mahogany colour, and a brownish dust was precipitated to the bottom of the glass jar.
A Study In Scarlet

My first question is of course if the famous "Sherlock Holmes' Test" even exists, of if it was just thought up by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. If it does exist--or something similar does--then what is it exactly? Or if it is indeed just make-believe, which chemicals could I use to make it sound at least half-way plausible?

Another, much more general, question I have is if anyone knows any fun chemical experiments. Like, for example, if you pour quicklime and chunks of sulphur on a heap of dry wood, and then pour water and Napthalene on said heap, it will catch on fire. (History Channel is a lovely thing indeed. ♥)

Thanks in advance! ♥
Tags: 1880-1889, ~forensics (misc), ~science: chemistry, ~victorian era

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