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Author: Subject: Future-gazing: available now, restricted tomorrow?
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[*] posted on 25-4-2019 at 20:36
Future-gazing: available now, restricted tomorrow?


Some posts in this section dwell on the past and reminisce about how good it was back then with respect to access to reagents and equipment for hobbyists.

The sad reality though is that in 5-10 years time we'll probably be looking back and thinking about how good it is today. On a positive note though this will spur some great creativity in terms of sourcing and purifying reagents, and it gives us the opportunity to celebrate and do some fun and interesting chemistry while we can!

So what's your guess? What is freely available now that in the future as the scientific age regresses and everything-phobia increases will end up being restricted or banned?

We're going to get the ball rolling and our suggestion is no less than within 10 years there will be no more sodium hypochlorite bleach available to the public...




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[*] posted on 26-4-2019 at 01:28


I can't see hypochlorite disappearing from the shelves around here, although it is conceivable that the concentration will go down. (Currently 2.5% for household bleach from the supermarket.)

I think next to disappear in Oz will be some solvents: toluene, xylene and dcm-based paint stripper. They might not disappear completely but they may join the numerous products on the shelves labelled as laquer thinner or brush cleaner and having MSDS reading "petroleum distillate". In other words, you never know what you are going to get when you buy it.

Potassium permanganate is another thing that might disappear. It is getting harder to find at the pharmacy.




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[*] posted on 26-4-2019 at 04:30


I predict that there will not be anything OTC containing cadmium in 10 years time.
Americium-containing smoke detectors will go extinct too.
Neither are very important in amateur Chemistry, only to element collectors.

[Edited on 26-4-2019 by phlogiston]




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[*] posted on 26-4-2019 at 04:59


There is a big difference between "banned" and "not available to the general public".
I am not worried about me or you but what about that 12 year old that could have become a genius but will never get the chance because he never got an opportunity to get hooked ? Chemistry sets now require an adult to get vinegar and NaHCO3 from other sources !
On the other hand will this encourage a more OTC approach ? This isnt a bad thing.

What j_sum says is very true. Is it made to placate chemophobes or to restrain access to chemicals by not naming them ? I dont know.
But a clear illustration is there: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_number
For many people, if it's on that list it means it's bad.

I sometimes worry about the access to knowledge people might have in 10 years. We've all seen videos taken down from Youtube.
Reading some "scientists" comments on other forums I fear that if these people become decision makers you could get jailed for knowing how to make black powder.
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[*] posted on 26-4-2019 at 12:50


Not a chemical as such, but I worry that chemistry (and other science) books will become restricted. A couple of years ago I bought 3 chemistry books from a second hand shop (physical, not online) that I've used over the years (I read voraciously so it was just chance that I bought chemistry books that day and not fiction or other non-fiction). At the checkout for the first time ever I was asked for my contact details ("in case we have any more chemistry books coming in..."), never heard from them again and I had my suspicions afterwards that it was more about logging individuals with dangerous reading habits for some government department. I'm probably just being paranoid, but if not my amazon purchases must have someone pressing alarm bells :)
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[*] posted on 26-4-2019 at 13:51


Where have you started getting weaker bleach? Bleach has actually gone up from 5% to 8.25% here. Charge the same, use less, shipping it around is a lot cheaper.
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[*] posted on 26-4-2019 at 14:30


@UC235
2.5% is standard concentration for Australian supermarket bleach AFAIK.

Interesting thought on the books. There are almost no chem books at my local library. I am talking 10 books on the shelf for a city of 100000.


Steve Spangler laments the loss of borax in some locations. His thougbts and observations are interesting.
https://youtu.be/mpSJdLyqibs. (4 mins)
Given that borax is the only unmixed otc boron source, this is a bad situation for anyone intetested in boron chemistry.


[Edited on 26-4-2019 by j_sum1]




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[*] posted on 26-4-2019 at 15:11


ten percent hypochlorite is readily available at walmart in texarkana. three bucks us a gallon. pool chlorine. forgive the poor grammar, but i have a delicious malt beverage in my other hand. more important than capitalization lol.

as far as predictions who knows, but i have chemplayers archive on my local hdd w00t w00t




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[*] posted on 26-4-2019 at 21:10


We've noticed the bleach dilution slowly take place - we used to be able to get 8% but the strongest now is 5.25%. 2.5% is not particularly useful! Our guess would be that in Europe it will only take a couple of headlines along the lines of 'Terrorists spray bleach' before supermarket NaOCl is replaced with solutions of surfactants and ironically much more environmentally unfriendly antibacterials.



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[*] posted on 26-4-2019 at 22:47


Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  

Steve Spangler laments the loss of borax in some locations. His thougbts and observations are interesting.
https://youtu.be/mpSJdLyqibs. (4 mins)
Given that borax is the only unmixed otc boron source, this is a bad situation for anyone intetested in boron chemistry.


Actually, I've found pure boric acid in drugstores such as Bartell's and Rite Aid. They're somewhat rare (big chains seem to avoid stocking it), but it's another fairly good source. Haven't had the chance to use it for much boron chemistry, but I have two large jars of the stuff in storage.

With regards to what's going to disappear in a decade, I'd suggest that sulfuric acid and lye will be completely subsumed by enzyme-based drain cleaners (as opposed to, say, the 90% split we're at now, at least in America). This is supposedly more green, but I have to wonder if they took the costs of manufacture into account when claiming that.

Lead will also be replaced by less 'toxic' alternatives, in much the same manner as mercury. This is already happening in niche applications such as weights for Cub Scout Pinewood derbies/other hobbies, where sintered tungsten, tin and (very rarely) bismuth have provided substitutes. Ironically, this is one product of lead-phobia that will actually lead to an increased supply of elements to the collector or chemist, as tungsten will technically become easier to source in this manner in reasonably pure ingot form. See also: the entire state of California, apparently.

One thing I'd like to see (although it would also hurt certain areas of hobby chemistry) is the elimination of 'pencil' batteries (the ones that use graphite rod cores, Duracell alkalines being a typical example as well as the bigger 6V zinc-carbon variant. These aren't exactly good for the environment due to their current disposal methods and lack of rechargeability, and I'd like to see them being replaced by something like lithium-ion. Nickel-cadmium, as stated above, is another possibility but unlikely to find the same major market due to its perceived toxicity. Even though Li-ion and Li-poly are technically explosives, but... you know... cadmium is deathly poisonous!

[Edited on 4/27/2019 by elementcollector1]




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[*] posted on 27-4-2019 at 10:32


Borax also still in every grocery store in Arkansas. I actually use it in my laundry. Handful of Borax with laundry soap gets them clothes CLEAN



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[*] posted on 27-4-2019 at 11:03


To be honest, I think it is of the opposite.
It will may get worse for 1-2 years at max, but then plenty of things will happen(political discussion is banned here) and we will say "how bad was it back in 2019-2020!" when almost everything is free again.
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[*] posted on 27-4-2019 at 12:15


Just lately most bleach is this "no-splash" stuff, it's looking like we won't have a choice soon. It's interesting how difficult it's become to find Ca(OH)2, commonly sold until now in hardware stores as hydrated lime. Home Depot doesn't sell it. Lowe's doesn't even sell lime for masonry, which is likely to be high magnesium. Walmart has replaced lime with MgSO4 even though there is not a history of MgSO4 use or demand. What Ca is available tends to be not hydroxide, or is "pelletized" on organic substrate, and high in Mg. Good old Hi-Yield makes a great product still, but no one seems to sell their products any more.

It's only a matter of time before some high profile incident happens. Other people have a habit of fucking things up for others.

[Edited on 28-4-2019 by S.C. Wack]




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[*] posted on 27-4-2019 at 12:49


Quote: Originally posted by elementcollector1  

With regards to what's going to disappear in a decade, I'd suggest that sulfuric acid and lye will be completely subsumed by enzyme-based drain cleaners

Maybe, at least in UK retail shops I'd expect that to keep them out of the "opportunistic" hands of gangs or angry exes [1]. Corrosive substance attacks don't look common elsewhere in the Western world, mostly UK, Pakistan, India [2].

[Edited on 27-4-2019 by andy1988]




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[*] posted on 27-4-2019 at 14:48


@S.C. Wack. (almost)Always a work-around. "Pickling Lime" is food grade calcium hydroxide. Also at every grocery around here. Folks in the 1900's were able to produce the essential feedstocks like NaOH and H2SO4, so perhaps be a bit more work in the future. In my 56 years, I have seen most predictions of imminent doom not pan out.

@karlos cubed: KUDOS. Politics has destroyed many a good thread here

*edit* @Wack: Hi-Yield stuff still selling here (sulfur, CaN03, etc)

[Edited on 4-27-2019 by arkoma]




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[*] posted on 28-4-2019 at 23:28


In NL we already are in the "future" as described in the first post. There nearly are no OTC pure chemicals left, or they are very dilute. Bleach in most places is replaced by so-called "dik-bleek", which means viscous bleach. It contains NaClO, but besides that, it contains a lot of other stuff, making it unsuitable for anything else than cleaning and disinfecting.

H2O2 only is available at 3%, NH3 only is available at 4%, sometimes 5%, but more and more often there are additives.

On the other hand, in online shops you can buy nearly everything you want in NL, including KNO3, 96% H2SO4, 37% HCl and many organic solvents, salts like copper sulfate, cobalt sulfate. On eBay you also can get many pure chemicals, including stuff like dichromates, permanganate, nickel-salts, many organics, and most elements.

So, where I live the situation is quite strange. For the 12-year old, who wants to explore chemistry with locally obtained chemicals, there hardly is any fun anymore. There isn't much more than vinegar, dilute HCl and some very tame salts. But if you look online, also at shops, not specific for chemistry, then a whole world opens up, also for private persons.

I personally think that this change in availability has not so much to do with chemophobia, terrorism or drug-abuse, but more with the general interest of the main public. In the past, every decent city had at least one drugstore, catering to hobbyists, who used pure chemicals for all kinds of purposes. Such hobbies, however, have mostly disappeared. Most people nowadays are busy with online games, social media, and their only non-obliged activities in the real world are doing sports and going out in the weekends. So, no financial room for a shop with special chemicals and equipment in every city. But at a national level, there still are sufficient people left who have more classical interests and such people are catered by a few online shops, which sell stuff to people all over the country.

It is a pity that it has come so far. And indeed, I fear the future of home chemistry, and many other science-related hobbies, because of lack of interest, but also because of lack of availability of interesting materials locally. The online shops are out of reach of the average 14-year old kid who wants to explore things. When I was 14 years old, I went to local shops on bike and spent some pocket money on a small quantity of e.g. CuSO4, K2Cr2O7, or KNO3.

[Edited on 29-4-19 by woelen]




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[*] posted on 29-4-2019 at 15:22


The bleach concentration varies brand-to-brand in the US. In my area, the generic store brand is listed as 6% NaOCl/water where the name brand Clorox bleach is less than this, and all of the name brand has some type of scent or color preservative and a longer list of constituents.

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[*] posted on 30-4-2019 at 06:27


Quote: Originally posted by woelen  
In NL we already are in the "future" as described in the first post. There nearly are no OTC pure chemicals left, or they are very dilute. Bleach in most places is replaced by so-called "dik-bleek", which means viscous bleach. It contains NaClO, but besides that, it contains a lot of other stuff, making it unsuitable for anything else than cleaning and disinfecting.

H2O2 only is available at 3%, NH3 only is available at 4%, sometimes 5%, but more and more often there are additives.
What? No unfortified cleaning agents sold OTC? Aren't there someone who still want the unfortified version?:o



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[*] posted on 1-5-2019 at 02:24


The other one I'm thinking will become much harder to get is sodium nitrite. Increasingly it's disappearing from specialist food additive lists for sale to the general public. Ultimately it's the key to OTC organic nitrites, azides, hydroxylamine derivatives, and lots of other useful organic reactions so it's a biggie for the hobbyist if it disappears.



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[*] posted on 1-5-2019 at 03:05


Here it is already not available in food stores anymore... Although, this doesn't mean I can't source it. Specialized lab suppliers still stock it and I can buy it from them without any difficulties.
I've also sadly noticed the trend of bleach becoming more and more dilute. 5% used to be the norm, now 3% seems like it's becoming the norm.
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[*] posted on 1-5-2019 at 07:38


Sodium Nitrite is easy to get, pure or otherwise... used in curing meat. H2SO4 is tricky in oz OTC but easily done. They tried to outlaw GABA the retards... never gonna happen. 3 guesses why they tried this...



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[*] posted on 2-5-2019 at 10:01


Quote: Originally posted by fusso  
What? No unfortified cleaning agents sold OTC? Aren't there someone who still want the unfortified version?:o
Most people don't care. People buy a cleaning agent for cleaning purposes and nothing else.



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[*] posted on 3-5-2019 at 04:33


Quote: Originally posted by woelen  
Quote: Originally posted by fusso  
What? No unfortified cleaning agents sold OTC? Aren't there someone who still want the unfortified version?:o
Most people don't care. People buy a cleaning agent for cleaning purposes and nothing else.
So is this change due to chemophobia?



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[*] posted on 5-5-2019 at 00:46


Sodium nitrite you can find with the spices usually. It's used in canning.
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[*] posted on 9-7-2019 at 12:57


I think something happened. There was (still is) a shop, real and online as well, which stocked 96% sulfuric acid, 25% ammonium-hydroxide, 37% formaldehyde, relatively cheap acetone, etc.

In the past few weeks these things disappeared! Acetone and formaldehyde is still stocked, but only in 1L bottles, the acetone what is still offered is alt. purity, so the price is almost 4X as high as it was for the cheaper product.

They still carry (again) KMnO4, not too pricey, but requires a signed end user agreement and your name, address, etc is recorded.

On the bleach dilution problem: last year I learnt in the hard way that our bleach is no longer 5.25% sodium hypochlorite! I had titrated several different brands, most was only 2.5%, but I found 1% in one bottle too! This is the exact reason why I'm struggling with calcium-hypochlorite in my anthranilic acid attempts recently! They are tricky too, the bottle only says: active chlorine content is less than 5%. So anything under 5% is OK for them and their lawyers, and you can't complain!
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