CRC Handbook

The CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics is a 2600-page tome of random facts and figures, from the speed of sound in various media to the chemical composition of the human body.

My sixth-grade teacher’s copy was one of the most fascinating objects of my childhood, and it still makes me giggle with delight.

To give a taste of what the book is like, here’s an abridged version of 15-39 “Density of various solids”. The idea that someone would need a handy reference for the density of cardboard, sandstone, butter, and thirty-eight different kinds of wood is hilarious — but they must be the most interesting person in the world!

Material Density
Amber 1.06–1.11
Asbestos 2.0–2.8
Asphalt 1.1–1.5
Beeswax 0.96–0.97
Bone 1.7–2.0
Brick 1.4–2.2
Butter 0.86–0.87
Cardboard 0.69
Chalk 1.9–2.8
Charcoal, oak 0.57
Charcoal, pine 0.28–0.44
Clay 1.8–2.6
Cork 0.22–0.26
Diamond 3.51
Gelatin 1.27
Glass 2.4–2.8
Granite 2.64–2.76
Ice 0.917
Iron, cast 7.0–7.4
Limestone 2.68–2.76
Paper 0.7–1.15
Polyethylene 0.92–0.97
Porcelain 2.3–2.5
Quartz 2.65
Rubber, hard 1.19
Sandstone 2.14–2.36
Sugar 1.59
Wood, balsa 0.11–0.14
Wood, bamboo 0.31–0.40
Wood, cedar 0.49–0.57
Wood, mahogany 0.66–0.85
Wood, oak 0.60–0.90