Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Making / Selling Chemicals

Richard3050 - 27-7-2016 at 20:05

I have experience in biochemistry / chemical engineering and was considering making and selling a small variety of chemicals (just as a hobby, not primarily as a means of making money). My plan was to sell them to other amateur chemists who are in need of different organic reagents. I was hoping for suggestions regarding chemicals that "chemistry hobbyists" need but have a hard time getting in high quality. Please no suggestions that are illegal to ship, intentionally poisonous, or explosive.

Praxichys - 28-7-2016 at 05:27

If there are certain things you would like to make and sell, feel free to post them on! It's a site I run that acts as a classifieds section for ScienceMadness, and I would really enjoy the support of another enthusiast.

I happen to be in the same business you are planning on getting into. It's harder than you think to turn a profit without donating a ton of your own time to keep the business afloat. Unfortunately there is no money in unregulated materials since everybody and their brother is selling them already. In bulk, the technical grade materials are dirt cheap - it's the repackaging container and shipping that costs the most. I've tried recrystallizing stuff and selling it at higher purity, but most hobby chemists want to buy it for cheap and do that step themselves, and anyone with money would just buy ACS grade in the first place. Thanks to the bigger companies out there that can sell on an extremely small profit margin, it's next to impossible to make decent money until you command a high volume of the already fairly limited market.

The real money is in custom synthesis. I have a friend who is into gardening, perfumery, and essential oils and has friends who make soap, so the bulk of my business is artificial fragrances, steam distillations, solvent extractions, bulk NaOH, and analysis of fatty acids. You sort of have to find your niche. Once you do, you're set.

I'm sure if you made some interesting compounds like Luminol that people on eBay would buy it. At one point I bought some silver ingots and made silver nitrate (which I though was a good idea at the time since the nitrate is like 2x the cost of the equivalent silver) but it's a pain in the butt to dry, and it photodegrades, so I ended up losing more time than it was worth.

Loptr - 28-7-2016 at 05:54

Yeah, I had the silver nitrate idea, too.

I still have an Erlenmeyer flask filled with an HNO3 solution with a lot of large precipitated sheet-like crystals. This is still waiting for me to workup and dry in a desiccator. It hasn't been covered with foil or stored in a cabinet, and I haven't seen any decomposition under garage lights due to the pH of the solution.

Richard3050 - 28-7-2016 at 17:11

Thank you for the responses that I have gotten so far. I already did some preliminary research into this area and am fully aware how difficult it is to turn a profit based off of small-scale chemical selling. My primary interest is not to turn a high amount of profit, that is what my job is for, but of course I don't have any desire to lose lots of money either. I just was deciding between simply continuing on with my usual chemistry experimentation / synthesis, which already costs me money, or perhaps see if I would be any good at distribution of some basic reagents as well. Thanks again.

careysub - 28-7-2016 at 17:34

There are some opportunities for selling niche products, see my comment about Cheshunt Compound:

[Edited on 29-7-2016 by careysub]

dermolotov - 30-7-2016 at 13:07

I've been doing this for the past 3 years and have found a niche in industrial fertilizers and plant hormones on the small scale. One needs to find their niche in order for this to work and I have yet to settle into mine - but for now, it pays the bills and then some.
It takes months of finding and another few weeks of luck before people contact you with their specific inquiries. Along with headaches dealing with the banks, friend's loans, etc. looks to be the best option so far and I will explore this for a more viable opportunity.

Arg0nAddict - 1-8-2016 at 18:56

The trick is buy ACS grade in bulk then break it down. Until ebay banned gallium completely i was making bank. what I got for 100 grams paid for a kilogram when you buy 5 from alibaba or similar. Mercury is a good one but hard to find venues to post on. I am currently looking for my next one...

silver nitrate is just not something id buy since is so easy to make.. that's why I stick to stuff you pretty much have to buy.

If someone could find potassium at sodium prices they would be my hero. :)

Loptr - 2-8-2016 at 08:56

Quote: Originally posted by Arg0nAddict  
The trick is buy ACS grade in bulk then break it down. Until ebay banned gallium completely i was making bank. what I got for 100 grams paid for a kilogram when you buy 5 from alibaba or similar. Mercury is a good one but hard to find venues to post on. I am currently looking for my next one...

silver nitrate is just not something id buy since is so easy to make.. that's why I stick to stuff you pretty much have to buy.

If someone could find potassium at sodium prices they would be my hero. :)

Why did eBay ban gallium?

Praxichys - 2-8-2016 at 09:02

I think because people have a tendency to improperly ship things. Spilling mercury on an airplane and spilling gallium are probably treated about the same, even though gallium has a much higher melting point.

Gallium is a corrosive and cannot be shipped by USPS (even under small quantities rules). It must be shipped in accordance with 49 CFR rules for corrosives, Class 8. This requires UN4G shipping materials. GalliumSource, LLC uses high quality leakproof bottles, metal cans, and UN4G box systems to ship gallium (Packing Group III). We pay the $25.00 HAZMAT charge for ground shipping on all applicable metals, not you. Some HAZMAT items show only $8.95 shipping but we actually pay much more to ship those. That cost is built into the price.

The maximum civil penalty is $75,000 for knowingly violating federal hazardous material transportation law.

The maximum civil penalty for knowingly violating laws and regulations that result in death, serious illness, severe injury to any person, or substantial destruction of property is $175,000.

This is per infraction. If someone who knows these regs receives gallium and rats the seller out to the DOT, every past order could incur a fine of up to $75k unless they've been shipping them with the HazMat declaration, proper labeling, packaging, etc.

Granted, I don't think anyone here would say anything but redistribution of a hazmat item in general is a dangerous game, and I think eBay is smart to ban it alongside popular oxidizers and aluminum powder to stay out of court for being "a facilitator in the distribution of...".

[Edited on 2-8-2016 by Praxichys]

Arg0nAddict - 3-8-2016 at 13:42

Yeah, I only use USPS on non-hazardous items. FedEx/UPS is much easier to ship hazardous stuff but you better be dang sure to pack your things well.

careysub - 3-8-2016 at 14:17

Currently galinstan - similar risk as mercury since it is liquid at RT is available on eBay.

If turned your gallium into galinstan you could still sell it... so far.

Aluminum powder is still available on eBay.

[Edited on 3-8-2016 by careysub]

SupaVillain - 8-8-2016 at 19:08

Legal Disclaimer for this post: Laws change all the time and this is not legal advice, I could be severely uninformed, always check your local, state, and federal laws before doing anything at all. If you're not an adult, don't read this, and make sure you can do this without any possible requirement of being 21 years of age, which would be stated in the laws.

I sold some stuff on eBay for a couple weeks and they removed my listing, I was fully lawful but they reserve the right to remove your stuff without any reason at all. Even well developed chemical companies write things on their listings to eBay, about emailing before deleting them. I'm very surprised to hear that gallium poses any danger or would restricted in any way... However basically, just look up what is banned from the specific supplier, and look up what's in the law. Selling anything, doing any business, is risky because there are people out there looking for opportunities to sue. Look at how much profit you make and make sure that you become a legitimate business if it reaches an amount that requires that, and its taxing, based on the amount designated by your state's law. Always check state AND federal. Some things will be outright fully restricted, some can just be diluted with water to a certain % of weight, some things don't require much. IIRC the regulation CFR 49 173.4 is the law that states that if the chemical is not fully restricted, then it can contain up to 30 grams for solids, 30 ml for liquids/uncompressed gases, without any kind of documentation at all, except you have to write something like "This package conforms to CFR 49 173.4". Of course 99% of people are uneducated chemophobic fascist trash so you might not receive the fake decency of "customer service". Be professional, as the first thing they'll suspect is that what you're doing is drug related. Becoming a legit business with an EIN might be very easy and you wouldn't have to deal with as many tards. I recommend not selling anything that could ever be used in anything illegal, as you will then get in trouble if they do something stupid. There's no reason to be anxious if you follow the law. I think you don't have to tell them at all what the contents are.... BUT, if the thing is above these certain weights/volumes, then you do, with something like MSDS and other proper documentation for it. That would be covered in local, state, and federal laws, again. Compressed gases are basically always a hazard, you can't drive with them, and I think they are limited to ground shipping.... I don't think they can even be shipped actually. USPS is by far the cheapest.... I think. I think since they are more of a federal service and less of a business, that they can't generate their own terms of service compared to what UPS and Fedex can(as far as picking and choosing what you can't ship). International shipping is far more restricted and you have all basic human rights stolen, you have to tell them exactly what's being shipped, and it's likely not worth it. Becoming familiar with all of the laws that could shape your business would be the best idea I think, because it is all that limits what you can and can't do. If someone tells you, that you can't do something, for example that a degree and experience is required to do this, then they're wrong, the law will tell you what can be done. Check with DEA lists 1 and 2 as well, as they require an extremely stupidly expensive permit and reporting of trade and manufacture. Disposal is another thing to be mindful of, and following storage regulations wherever you keep whatever you're selling. Don't assume you can keep hazmats in storage centers, there are places that offer storage specifically for that. Some amounts of certain things, you won't be able to keep at home in residential zoning. Oh, and make sure the locations you ship to don't have laws restricting your product.

Arg0nAddict - 10-8-2016 at 08:00

I have a business with an EIN that's how I'm able to get pretty much anything. And mine is for chemical resale so as long as I don't knowingly sell to someone with bad intentions it's all good. You can use pretty much any chemical to do something wrong though. That's what's sad... take iodine for instance it's easy to buy and it's on the same list as red p which is nearly impossible to buy. I only know of one ebay guy selling it and he also sells white p. Too expensive though. :/

SupaVillain - 10-8-2016 at 20:33

Quote: Originally posted by Arg0nAddict  
I have a business with an EIN that's how I'm able to get pretty much anything. And mine is for chemical resale

Since you have a business, do you have to have a physical location for it? Like an office space? I have heard that Sigma Aldrich and some others will look up the shipping address, and once they find out it's residential, that they deny the sale... Do you have to deal with these issues? Who do you buy chemicals from? I'm assuming you are in the U.S.

Arg0nAddict - 12-8-2016 at 00:12

My business is totally unrelated to chemicals, but yes I own shop space within an industrial zoned address area. I secretly sleep in the attic... I have to find a way to explain why I need certain reagents for metal work from the big places but usually they are too freaking expensive...

SupaVillain - 12-8-2016 at 14:24

Yea that's a reason I've been reluctant to make a business... Worried I might have to have a physical location and no way I could afford to pay rent for a workplace and a home when I'm just trying to do some projects and learn.

Cabalaba - 16-9-2016 at 08:16

So eBay pulled my GaNO3, even though the USPS rep I spoke to said it was a nitrate salt according to Appendix A of their obfuscated policy documents, allowing small quantity shipments. Now Im stuck with GaNO3, despite its not considered Gallium by the actual shipper, whom they use as a reason to discontinue its sale.

I feel eBay crawling in my a** more and more.

I read eBay's rules and the shipper's rules before posting, but eBays getting somewhat unpredictable.

No, I see reagentplus is down, H.M.S. Beagle is either remodeling or down too. Wonder whats up. Ideas?

Arg0nAddict - 17-9-2016 at 06:00

I moved to amazon until I shipped a product and got half my price then they claim they didn't get it even though tracking said delivered. I politely said look at it from my perspective and they hung up, then believe it or not I got a call from a lawyer who is cursing me out couldn't believe it. I got served and gladly went to court. It's a second calling of mine to make a mockery of the legal system.


I have tons to sell but nobody to sell to or trade with. Not much action on that front here.
Gallium sodium cadmium lots of different nitrates including barium nitrate, sodium and iron Oxalate Sodium Sulfide, little mercury Thiocyanate, K Chlorate, Perchlorate and Permanganate

What I need is sodium nitrite (NaNO2 NOT NaNO3) mercury metal, potassium metal and then Benzene, methylin chloride always want more HNO3 68% and up I like I and even P not I P like you think shoot I do P but I don't use P to make meth not my style. I hate these drug inconveniences people going to get it anyway. In fact I could get meth or any drug before a precursor explain that

SolutionMaterials - 18-3-2017 at 16:19

Solution Materials, LLC has all kinds of elements. They are all shipped legally according to 49 CFR (DOT) rules. International shipping is available. Liquid Mercury, GaInSn (can't call it Galinstan because that is a trade name), Sodium Metal, Potassium Metal, many alkali metals. . . . Titanium foil, Magnesium foil, Tantalum foil, all kinds (and thicknesses) of metal foils.

JJay - 18-3-2017 at 16:44

Oh, cool. We've been watching the rise of Solution Materials with some delight and anticipation :) I know I could certainly use some more metals....

clearly_not_atara - 18-3-2017 at 18:46

As I understand it, gallium, even in small amounts, can cause serious and effectively irreparable corrosion to metal objects, particularly aluminium. As such is may ruin any vehicle used to transport it if it leaks out of its container; if it came in contact with the body of an airplane, repairs might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's not surprising USPS doesn't like to carry it.

I was hoping for suggestions regarding chemicals that "chemistry hobbyists" need but have a hard time getting in high quality.

Rather than taking suggestions from us, take suggestions from papers that use complex catalysts to achieve difficult reactions under mild conditions. For example there might be a market for Cp*Ir(Pro)Cl which catalyses the condensation of alcohols with amines:

Usually catalysts like this one don't have as onerous of shipping requirements as e.g. cyanuric chloride. But you do need to know what kind of reactions people want to carry out.

[Edited on 19-3-2017 by clearly_not_atara]

JJay - 19-3-2017 at 00:02

Mercury has a similar effect on aluminum objects, doesn't it? I don't think I'd eat gallium by the spoon, but it's not highly toxic AFAIK....

tsathoggua1 - 19-3-2017 at 06:53

Gallium is not particularly toxic. It does however disrupt the oxide passivating layer on alunminium and it will eat through the metal and turn it into a pile of slag. Not surprising its banned on planes. IIRC in WWII special ops groups would use a Hg-based paste to apply to german aircraft and have their bare aluminium bodies disintegrate. Now that would be a nasty surprise when you've already taken off and you fall straight down through a hole where your seat used to be all of a sudden:P

Since Hg salts, nitrate included can be used for Al/Hg amalgams, its not surprising that you can't get people to transport it.

Argonaddict-I may be able to help you with the phosphorus if you wish to trade, or if you don't, I would be happy to sell some to you, I've 2kg of red phosphorus. Little white, but would be able to prepare WP fron RP if needs be.

JJay - 19-3-2017 at 07:18

There's a strong counter-culture among chemistry education professionals, especially at the secondary school level, to push back against what they view as onerous environmental and safety regulations, so it is actually pretty easy to get mercury through educational channels.

I know where to import kilograms of red phosphorus from and know where to get small amounts of it legally. I actually can't lawfully import it, although they'd probably let me get away with it. So I must decline your generous offer, but perhaps you can assist others :)

I would probably consider a phosphorus-based stump remover. Actually, probably a lot of people would buy those, and while the DEA could theoretically restrict import/sale of such a material by simply posting a notice in the Federal Register, I don't believe they would.

tsathoggua1 - 19-3-2017 at 08:33

Well anyone wants to buy any, I've more than I need. I need some for catalyzing alkyl halide synths, chase down the allotropic and polymorphic forms of phosphorus (although I'm kinda busying myself working on boron atm..speaking of which, better go check that electrolytic cell :D )
And theres lots of organophosphine chemistry thats fucking neat.

The Appel rxn (although I already have PPh3) looks very useful Owing to its versatility in halide donor acceptance.

Melgar - 20-3-2017 at 06:01

I was thinking of ways to legally ship gallium in ways that wouldn't corrode aluminum at atmospheric temperatures. One idea: sell galinstan as two components: one being an alloy of half the gallium and indium, and the other being half the gallium alloyed with tin. Both of these alloys would melt at a higher temperature than gallium would, and might be okay to ship. They could just be melted together to make galinstan.

tsathoggua1 - 20-3-2017 at 06:50

Stump remover...could find some of that no problem;)