Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Destination for chem ordering?

silonyl - 28-7-2005 at 23:59

I'm new to the amateur and business side of chemical research, and I would like to know what rules of precedent apply regarding to where one can order reagents.

I have and intend to grow a small business devoted (in part) to the sale of specialty chemicals to niche markets, but as of now have no physical space other than my home with which to open accounts. In your experience is it possible to place business orders to a residential address, or do I need to wait until I have secured commercial/industrial space for this purpose? What of maildrops or similar entities?

runlabrun - 29-7-2005 at 00:04

With a registered business there is no problem in using your residential address as the place of business, however you may come into trouble with the storage of chemical stock on the property, the EPA (enviro people), police, fire dept and council / govt depts may not allow it due to many reasons.
If you are considering this as a legitimate business you will find problems with legal matters with regards to the products you offer (ie illicit drug codes and terrorism laws) which you will have to deal with.

Good luck tho.

silonyl - 29-7-2005 at 00:18

Thanks, rlr

My main concern with the residential address was just what you mention - EPA, OSHA (hopefully not an issue), and local authorities. I imagine it would be expensive if not difficult to receive their graces.

My plan is to acquire some space in which I can perform actual chemistry, but an initial thought is to act as a proxy for those who cannot order from the larger suppliers to provide access to some of the more esoteric chemicals. I would of course steer clear of DEA and Homeland Sec. regulated materials - if I can find a listing thereof - but I can think of plenty of non-hazmat non-regulated materials that people might be interested in acquiring. This is tangential, and I apologize, but I wanted to clarify my general plan.


vulture - 29-7-2005 at 02:11

If you want to steer clear of the DEA and the DHS, you can forget niche markets, because you won't be selling anything else but expensive backing soda and acetic acid...

silonyl - 29-7-2005 at 08:04

If I understand you correctly, this is not true. One example I could cite is many fine organics and inorganics available from aldrich, alfa, strem, and others. A more interesting example, though, is in certain reagents used for chemiluminescent processes. These are by and large simple syntheses, but the products (when sold at all) are sold at outrageous markups.

What niche markets did you have in mind, if you don't mind saying?

Also, perhaps a separate topic (let me know if so), is there posted somewhere a list of DEA/DHS listed chemicals of which the sale and transport is subject to regulation?


sparkgap - 29-7-2005 at 08:29

"...many fine organics and inorganics available from aldrich, alfa, strem, and others..."

Yes, and they (generally) don't sell those "fine organics and inorganics" to individuals. At least, not without an indelible paper trail.

sparky (~_~)

P.S. IIRC, one of the threads here listed the chemicals being monitored due to possible uses in drugmaking and/or chemical warfare; search around... ;)

Listed Chemicals

bio2 - 29-7-2005 at 11:56

Listed Chemicals that you consume or sell require record keeping for 2 years.

Normally the supplier will send you the DEA form to sign were you must indicate the end use if reselling. It was very easy just a few years ago and in several years they never did come to exam the records. Large suppliers are visited every 6 months according to the manager of a major supplier.

runlabrun - 29-7-2005 at 18:29

Nearly everything is on some sort of a list these days... drugs, bombs, chem weapons etc there is nothing you can sell without being on some kind of suitably licenced premises that would be of interest to any niche markets.

Product of the WOD and WOT. Thats why i said good luck because i doubt this plan of yours will fly very far. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but thats the truth.

silonyl - 29-7-2005 at 20:59

Thanks all for the good info, especially regarding DEA listing. As far as Aldrich and others I intend to deal with them as a business, and have already dealt with them as a member of an academic institution. As far as space, if I do intend to do anything truly business-oriented I will be operating out of a properly equipped non-residential space.

As far as ordering small quantities of non-listed compounds for personal research, is there hope?


neutrino - 29-7-2005 at 21:38

There shouldn't be a problem if ordering through a company (including your own).

bio2 - 30-7-2005 at 11:54

........As far as ordering small quantities of non-listed compounds for personal research, is there hope?..............

All you need is to get an excise tax liscence then you are a company. This allows to pay the wholesale tax rate for resale as almost all chemical suppliers require this damn tax number. That is their primary concern.

Buying listed chems is no more difficult than buying the non-listed ones but be prudent!

The smaller local suppliers are usually very friendly and are more willing to deal with individuals or small companies. Best to meet with them first talking to the owner /manager and then it should be smooth sailing. When you present yourself professionally there should be no problen at all.

silonyl - 31-7-2005 at 07:07

So... two things I get out of this last post (two main things... it's still morning;) )

1. Excise tax license - I have applied for an EIN and have a Doing Business As name (non-registerable in my state), but have done nothing with excise tax. Is this federal or state? Googling brought up too much confusion for my still groggy brain :)

2. You say smaller suppliers, and presenting myself professionally. Should I take this to mean that it is recommended to deal with local suppliers who I can meet and deal with in person rather than national suppliers? I don't care too much for Aldrich, but I've had very good dealings with Alfa and respect them as a company so I would hate to see them go. Then again, they are a retailer.

At this stage, though, I will probably be dealing in retail quantities of chemicals destined for my own research projects. Does this change anything?

Thanks again for all of your input!


bio2 - 31-7-2005 at 08:48

.......... Excise tax license - I have applied for an EIN and have a Doing Business As name ....

In this state the DBA comes with the GET number (general excise tax) I quess it's not technically a "liscence" but is often referred to as one. This allows you to get wholesale prices from distributers that don't generally sell to the public and pay the 1/2% rate then charging your customers the retail GET.

You may not need an EIN if no employees so be a Sole Proprietor it simplifies things!

....... deal with local suppliers who I can meet and deal with in person rather than national suppliers? ........

I'm just saying that getting started is easier this way and the prices may not be necessarily more as they get a much bigger discount than you do. Just remember that nobody pays the catalog price unless they are either stupid or completely inexperienced. The little guy will give you an account after he sees your payments and you will probably have to give 50% or more down until they trust you. After that getting an account with a national company is a snap.

Also the little guy needs your biz the big boys could care less. Best is to meet with the local sales rep for the national outfits first because if he likes you then you've got it made. One of the reps I knew would give me 1,000 piece cases of test tubes because the corner got crunched and lots of other goodies that they give to their big accounts like hospitals etc.

Sandmeyer - 31-7-2005 at 09:34

There is nothing in the law (at least not EU) that hinders a non-corporate individual to order reasonable chemicals from a chemical company. Western oligopolists set the benchmark so it seems like ordering chemicals is not possible (or even legal) for an individual. Though it's to me a mystery why they choose this policy -- it is certanly not increasing their profit margins. Though they are extreamly rare (and precious), small companies can be found locally that are willing to sell to individuals.

[Edited on 31-7-2005 by Sandmeyer]

Cloner - 11-8-2005 at 10:02

Sure, the last sentence I agree with. It is good if one of us wants to become such a business.

Sadly, I noticed the trend of such friendly small businesses to turn main-group and disappear as far as we're concerned.

evil_lurker - 11-8-2005 at 14:55

Reselling chems in the west is legal, but there are a lot of legal landmines that you have to watch out for that can end up getting you fined by the federal goverment or worse, thrown in prison for a very very long time.

I have thought very hard about becoming a chemical reseller.

Here are a few of the problems:

1. Shipping. Unless you buy by the truckload/drum quantities, shipping is going to eat you alive when getting your product.

It is also gonna hurt when you have to figure out how to ship the hazmat material because it requires a course and several hundred dollars.

Your customers are going to get ripped because they are gonna get hit with the hazmat fees again.

2. What can/cannot be sold. Expect visits from the DEA, OSHA, CPSC, and any other bunch of feds with nothing better to do. Each time the find something wrong, expect it to be an expensive lesson.

3. Responsibility. If you sell a chemical to an individual, and they hurt themselves they can turn around and sue you which could rack up one heck of a legal bill.

If I went into the business, it would be a corporate entity for liability reasons, I would sell nothing off of list 1 and greatly restrict my sales of list 2 chemicals to nothing but sulfuric acid.

In fact, I would make my business revolve around nothing but acids, them being:

Glacial Acetic
Nitric (maybe)

Hydrochloric would be off the list since its readily available in hardware stores.

business idea

chloric1 - 11-8-2005 at 18:01

Ok lets be simple. Say you want to order from Alfa Aesar or simular and you start a sole propietership in the US. I am thinking about someday being an independent researcher and my company would be a LLC. My main focus could be experiemntal solar cells or?? But I would like to do projects on the side inconspicuously of coarse(no explosions etc) I would run this out of a residence.

evil_lurker - 16-8-2005 at 18:26

Start up a shell company.

Basically the principle part of your business would be chemical process design and research consulting.

Your target audience would be assisting other businesses and individuals wishing to manufacture various chemical compounds.

Set up a website and make it look nice, keep up with OSHA and all the other related goodies handed down by the government, and keep good records.

You don't actually have to sell anything, your chemicals consumed can be written off as a loss, say like your attempting to build a bioreactor, but it keeps doing stuff it shouldn't, and you consume chemicals each time you run and refine the process.

Make sense?

yeh I think

chloric1 - 16-8-2005 at 19:05

Sure the general idea sounds good, but I need to find out how to comply with the government. I know there are numerous consulting books out there. Say I put up a website and I start getting emails asking for services. All my chemistry knowledge is self taught, meaning I have no credentials. Is there a way around this loop whole? I do work on medical instruments(urine analyzers etc). In the time it would take me to get a Bachelors degree as a chemist certified by ACS, I could become an accomplished glassblower for alot less money. Could the glassblower title be an angle?

evil_lurker - 16-8-2005 at 20:31

What you do is say to potential clients:

"I'm sorry but we are unable to accept your business at this time. Our firm is currently assisting other clients and we have insufficiant free resources to accomodate your needs in a timely fashion."

How about on-site chems and waste contractors?

silonyl - 9-10-2005 at 19:10

Another complicating angle I see being used nere is the ensurance of safe storage for flammable materialss (Ie fireproof solvent locker... and more importantly proper disposal of chemical waste when it is produced. Seems almost like a waste contractor will be necessary. :/

Illegal Parkinson - 18-10-2005 at 07:09

I think the list of wached chemicals is only a very superficial overview and mainly targets clear-cut criminal themes and not the grey matter. I saw the dateline show on Strike (founder of the hive) the other week. The DEA agent in that program would get suspicious of certain patterns of chemicals being ordered that are not even restricted. It's actually not that difficult to order chemicals although there is always a chance that you'll get raided even if you arent doing something illegal, just because someone has ratted on you.