I once saw an undergraduate setting up a reflux in my lab, and I could tell immediately it wasn’t going to work. The undergraduate didn’t take enough precautions to ensure that the liquid wouldn’t leak out from the joint connecting the round bottom flask and the condenser. I debated whether I should say anything, but decided that the reagents weren’t expensive enough to warrant my involvement. I also knew that once he made this mistake he would never make it again. The next morning when he came into lab his reagents were a black char at the bottom of his flask. Apparently, chemists not freely sharing all their techniques has historical precedences as professor Martyn Poliakoff explains below.