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Home Chemicals List

Make a Home Chemistry Kit

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Only a few materials are needed to do many chemistry projects.

Only a few materials are needed to do many chemistry projects.

Anne Helmenstine
This is a list of chemicals I keep at home so my kids can do chemistry projects and grow crystals. The activities are safe for kids with adult supervision. Store the chemicals safely, away from young children and pets, as with any household chemicals. At present, there is no particular order to this list, except maybe from chemicals-I-use-most to chemicals-I-use-least.

  • water
    Distilled is probably better, but I never have any. I do experiments with tap water.

  • table salt (sodium chloride)
    I use uniodized, but it rarely makes a difference. Grocery store item, found on the baking/spice aisle.

  • borax
    Usually sold with laundry detergents, otherwise with household cleaners.

  • corn starch
    Grocery store item, found on the baking/spice aisle.

  • white glue
    I use Elmer's, though I am sure other brands exist. It's sold with school supplies.

  • vinegar
    Grocery store item, location varies. There are different types of vinegar. White vinegar is clear, but usually cider vinegar would work, if that's what you have.

  • baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
    Grocery store item, found on the baking/spice aisle.

  • food coloring
    Grocery store item, found on the baking/spice aisle.

  • epsom salts (magnesium sulfate)
    Found near the pharmacy section, usually.

  • vodka
    Used as ethanol. It's not necessary, but good to have for some projects. In many cases, rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) would work. One comes from the liquor store, the other from the pharmacy section of the grocery store.

  • sugar (sucrose)
    Granulated white table sugar, from the grocery store.

  • flour
    Flour is used to make paste and as a building material, as in the chemical volcano.

  • alum
    Sold with spices.

  • calcium chloride
    Sold as a laundry booster or road salt (de-icer).

  • bromothymol blue pH indicator
    Sold in water test kits for aquaria and swimming pools.

  • phenolphthalein pH indicator
    I got this from a disappearing ink kit sold at a magic shop. It can be ordered. This chemical is used in color-change and disppearing ink projects.

  • sodium hydroxide (lye)
    Sold as a drain cleaner in the plumbing section of some hardware stores. Keep away from children. It's not used in a lot of projects, so consider it optional. It's used where a strong base is needed.

  • glycerin
    Sold in the pharmacy section or in craft stores. Used to make bubbles, mainly.

  • rock salt or sea salt
    Sold with spices. Sometimes you want sodium chloride with other trace elements.

  • lemon juice
    Found near produce, usually.

  • metamucil
    Sold in pharmacies.

  • milk of magnesia
    Sold in pharmacies. Not used in many projects that I presently have listed.

  • dishwashing detegent
    For hand washing, not dishwashing machines.

  • copper wire
    You want the type without any insulation or coating.

  • galvanized nails
    These are nails that have been coated with zinc.

  • mineral oil
    Baby oil is mineral oil. The added fragrance isn't a problem.

  • citric acid
    Sold with canning supplies.

  • vegetable oil
    I use safflower oil. Any cooking-grade vegetable oil is fine.

  • steel wool
    Found with cleaning supplies.

  • iodine stain
    It's easiest to order this from a chemical supply company or try to buy some from a local school. It's used primarily in projects that test for the presence of starch.

  • unflavored gelatin
    Found with its flavored relatives.

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