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Readers Respond: Chemicals and Where to Find Chemicals

Responses: 24


If you're not a chemist, you may have trouble finding some chemicals for chemistry experiments and projects. There are a lot of chemicals that are commonly available, but usually they aren't labelled with a chemical name so you might not recognize them. Have you found a good source of chemicals or do you know of pure compounds that are sold as common household chemicals? If so, share your information with others.

manganese oxide and lithium metal

can be removed from some large rechargeable batterys (usualy they are labeled)
—Guest xyyx

Manganese Dioxide

Inside batteries, wash the impurities out and let the MnO2 settle at the bottom, pour the solution out leaving the manganese dioxide behind, and boil it off. Not sure if it's pure, but it's good enough
—Guest Mr. Eva

Where to find chemicals

HMS Beagle (www.hms-beagle.com, 180 English Landing Drive, Suites 110 & 120, Parkville, MO 64152) offers over 600 chemicals for home experimenters. Most are ACS reagent grade.
—Guest Fishman Jack

Do not boil battery acid

Boiling 40% sulphuric acid from a car battery is a very good way to strip every surface the steam touches, including your lungs.
—Guest Guest91956

Sodium Hydroxide (caustic soda, lye)

Found as drain openers (although often with contamination in the form of aluminium granules and sodium salts). Some paint supply shops sell them in the form of pellets as paint stripper (this is usually pure sodium hydroxide).
—Guest krys

Copper sulfate & Sulfuric acid

Copper sulfate can be found as root kill, usually 99% purity, also Rooto makes sulfuric acid drain cleaner that is almost lab grade with no inhibitors.
—Guest praseodymium

an excellent source for quality chemical

The web site United Nuclear Scientific Supply sells many ACS reagent grade chemicals in small quantities. The amounts are small enough to be classified as ORM-D, so there are no hazmat charges for shipping. I have ordered there several times and am very satisfied with their service.
—Guest mhanes

A Few More Commonly Available Chemicals

Tungsten can be obtained from welding suppliers. 2-propanol is rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol). Oxalic acid can be separated from the cleaning product Bar Keepers Friend (10% according to the MSDS). Many soluble ferrous salts can be obtained by dropping a steel nail in a solution of copper (II) [insert anion here]. They will be oxidized to ferric [insert anion here] if left exposed to the air. If you're looking for hydrofluoric acid, I've heard that it's used in the tire industry. Keep in mind that it dissolves glass.


inside thermotres........................................................................................................................
—Guest Gunnish1

Several chemicals found in stores

Hafnium is in the tip of plasma cutter torches. Hydrochloric acid can also be bought at a hardware store. Antimony can be extracted from pewter. Lead can be taken from old solder. Germanium is found in 1N34A, IN50, or ED50 diodes. Silicon is found in most diodes. Sodium bromide is found as a bromide source in pool and spa supply stores. Calcium hydroxide powder as pickling lime is found in Walmart. Certain precious elements like rhodium, ruthenium and palladium can be found in jewelry. Small amounts of platinum and iridium are found in some spark plugs. Liquid galinstan alloy is found in mercury-free thermometers. Niobium is used in some jewelry. Long-life lithium batteries can have thionyl chloride in them. Red phosphorus is found in toy explosive caps and in match strikers. A mixture of rare earth metals is found in cigarette lighters. Cobalt(II) chloride is found in Drierite as an indicator. Lithium is found in normal lithium coin cells.

Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH)

In Normal Soap you can dilute it with water to form sodium hydroxide solution to check it you can use red litmus, phenolphthalein, methyl orange or red cabbage
—Guest Rohit

Methylene Blue Dye

I found this at an exotic fish store. It is used as a water treatment, among other things.

Ammonium Nitrate

Is found in the instant cold packs, in most pharmacies.

Potassium iodide

I found potassium iodide at an organic health food market.

concentrated H2SO4

95% H2SO4 with inhibitors can be found at hardware stores under the name "Liquid Fire". It will work for making nitric acid from nitrate salts like potassium nitrate.
—Guest mhanes

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