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Author: Subject: What is the cost to set up a lab or lab-like area?
scienceboi
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[*] posted on 14-6-2020 at 01:46
What is the cost to set up a lab or lab-like area?


Nilered set up his lab for about $20k or something like that, but Explosions&Fire looks to be $1-2k maybe?

I'm thinking about setting up an area in my garage, but that needs a fumehood. I just wanna do normal chemistry without looking like I cook meth and have chemicals all over the place.

Honestly, I wish there was like a subscription based system for access to the lab. Similar to how gyms allow people to workout with expensive equipment for a low fee per month. None of my local colleges or schools have any kind of access to labs unless you're a grad student basically.




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Tsjerk
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[*] posted on 14-6-2020 at 02:32


At least get yourself some proper ventilation. I would recommend a fume hood, which can be as simple as a plywood box with a movable/removable transparent screen in the front with air extraction.

You will thank yourself in the future for investing in proper ventilation, for $100-200 you can make something half decent. Poor ventilation will severely limit your experimenting possibilities.
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[*] posted on 14-6-2020 at 03:14


the cost depends pretty much on what you want to do, some metal acetates? use old jars/5% vinegar and pharmacy hydrogen peroxide, if you want to distill bromine is another thing.

normal chemistry is pretty hard to define, but you can cheap out on many things. Good ventilation is a must, so if you can't do it outside build a quick wooden box with a powerful extractor fan, you can go to as simple as that to all diy metal and electronics with custom pipeing.

for heating you could buy a hotplate stirrer, or you could use a cheap electric heating plate with a triac.

i myself built my fumehood for around $300, i have a $150 magnetic stirrer/hotplate, $100 in glassware, $30 vacuum aspirator and $250 in chemicals, and i don't even have a garage/free area, so don't worry, with 1k you can get pretty far if you spend wisely and maybe have the patience to wait a good deal or build yourself what you want.





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[*] posted on 14-6-2020 at 03:52


It's a journey. You will get set up to a certain point and then continue to add to it. Everyone does.

I can assure you yhat extractions and ire has spent more than a couple of grand over the years. But it has been a process.


Pick a project that inspires you and which is within your reach. Then buy what you need to do it safely. From ghere it is a matter of looking for bargains, learning about otc and low tech options, saving your pennies dnd then launching into the next project.

For indpiration, watch some chemplayer videos. Ehat they accomplished with a couple of beakers and a vacuum filtration setup is remarkable.
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Mateo_swe
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[*] posted on 14-6-2020 at 04:37


A factor that has a big impact on the cost of your hobby lab is how much you can or have skills to make yourself.
If you are good at building stuff in your house, like renovating the kitchen and stuff like that, then you can get away with less cost for your lab.
A fumehood is very expensive even a used one if you want to buy one, but if you are blessed with good building skills you can make one yourself.
There are some items that are quite expensive even if you build a fumehood yourself like the fan for example.
It needs to be ATEX classed (explosion proof), or you can choose a fan model that doesnt have the motor in the airstream.
But these are quite pricey also, at least where i live.
One good idea is to look for fans used in boats for the engine area.
These are explosion proof, they must be, and can sometimes be found not so expensive.
A home lab is something you build up and improve over time and after a while, if you keep improving and add features, it will be a nice one.
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Sulaiman
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[*] posted on 14-6-2020 at 05:30


How long is a piece of string?

A lab to do what?
Unless you can be more specific about the type of things that you want to do,
this thread can become very long.




CAUTION : Hobby Chemist, not Professional or even Amateur
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Refinery
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[*] posted on 14-6-2020 at 05:36


There is no upper limit to cost, but there is certainly a lower limit.

Whatever you can make yourself, make in order to reduce costs. Commercial fume hoods and apparatus costs several thousand $ because they are by the standards and mostly over-designed for the amateur. Plywood, glued PE foil, sink, plexiglass retractable door, lamps, duct fan, etc. won't cost that much. A couple hundred at most.

I'm not sure how susceptible duct fans are to cause ignition, if they have brushless dc motors, they should be quite safe. Another point is that the LEL of fumes would not exceed if the fan operates at sufficient speed.

The equipment itself is also a limitless matter due to variety of all stuff. Basic glass can be bought for pennies, but for full-range equipment, perhaps with multiple items of each will grant a few grand bill on itself.

Some stuff can be substituted, it may not be necessary to buy lab grade hotplates, stirrers. A lab grade stirrer can cost 500$, while a pretty good one non-grade goes for 100$. Used ones are also fairly priced.
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[*] posted on 14-6-2020 at 10:10


My absolute one bit of recommended kit is a hot plate/stirrer. Decent Corning PC-351's can be found on eBay for around $100US used. I bought a used one three years ago, and it was really money well spent and a "turning point" in what I could accomplish.



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[*] posted on 14-6-2020 at 10:57


I purchased a stirplate that is decently good for it's price and being non-lab grade.

It was well enough to boil over 1-liter reactions (urea, lye, water) and for acetone distillations, and the stirring is capable for ordinary work. The magnet startup is a big jaggy and they aren't that strong when stirring bigger vessels. 4-liter unit with solids precipitating out can cause button to destabilize once in a while. I used one 10-liter unit with coolant bath and the about 10mm extra space was enough to destabilize the stirring button. I use overhead stirring for larger volumes nowadays anyways.

For heating larger amounts, I always use either propane burner or a recente acquisition of induction plate. The stirplates seldom have enough heating power for larger batches, anyways, so there's that.

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[*] posted on 14-6-2020 at 16:04


Quote: Originally posted by Sulaiman  
How long is a piece of string?

A lab to do what?
Unless you can be more specific about the type of things that you want to do,
this thread can become very long.

Perfect answer.
Making beer or wine is chemistry.
Do you have a deck or some area outside your living space this is a couple of thousand dollars question.
It can be very simple until it is not.
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scienceboi
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[*] posted on 14-6-2020 at 18:28


I get that the price depends on the specific things I want to do, so I'll clarify.
I want to do chemistry at home as close to the standards of the average chemistry lab in a school or research company.
I've taken chemistry labs in college so I'd like that equivalent.
(ie. black chemical resistant counter tops, gloves, lab coats, glassware, fume hood, eyewash station, fire extinguisher, 'stock room')

Of course I can just do it outside on a folding table, but it really hurts legitimacy to friends and family and also neighbors who can see into my backyard. Its already a taboo to do chemistry at home for most people, so I'd like to lessen that effect.

Yet, to counter that I have a budget. It's not like I can buy everything I want. I'd be willing to save for a fume hood and do it outside until then.

Are there price ranges for certain qualities a lab has? Or an upgrade path?
Like <$1k,$1-5k,$5-15k, >$15k




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Sulaiman
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[*] posted on 14-6-2020 at 19:30


Quote: Originally posted by scienceboi  
...(ie. black chemical resistant counter tops, gloves, lab coats, glassware, fume hood, eyewash station, fire extinguisher, 'stock room')...

black chemical resistant counter tops :
nothing is resistant to everything, cheaper alternatives include ;
.painted wood, not very durable but easily and cheaply re-painted.
.glass, looks good, resistant to most chemicals, but drop glassware onto it and you may break the glass and/or glassware.
.rubber sheet, my favourite, semi-durable and a good surface to bounce glassware off.

gloves; for a lot of chemistry work, gloves are not recommended
.cheap disposable, for protection against chemicals that stain
.pvc kitchen gloves, good against most acids, bases, oxidisers etc.
.butyl rubber, for really nasty stuff

lab coats; generally just using clothes that you do not mind corroding/staining/bleaching
.aprons are safer to remove than coats if large splashes are anticipated

glassware: choose famous brands for quality, cheap Chinese for economy

fume hood: I do not have one so I will not comment

eyewash station: you need to service frequently to prevent bacteria etc.
legionella is a particular hazard.
. I have a garden hose handy, controlled at the hose outlet for immediate use.

fire extinguisher: I keep a dry powder unit nearby, and my trusty hosepipe.

stock room: make your entire lab space your stock room

Maybe also: fire blanket, gas mask or respirator, bucket of water, bucket of sand, sink with tap/faucett, washable floor, spill clean up kit, electrical supply, good lighting, internet access, excellent ventillation .....

You forgot THE most important item ... EYE PROTECTION !




CAUTION : Hobby Chemist, not Professional or even Amateur
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scienceboi
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[*] posted on 14-6-2020 at 21:58


Quote: Originally posted by Sulaiman  

You forgot THE most important item ... EYE PROTECTION !


Haha yes, I see that. And the goal is to keep seeing.


Thanks to everyone for all this advice! I'll reply back in some months time to update on how it turns out.




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[*] posted on 14-6-2020 at 23:31


Quote: Originally posted by Sulaiman  

lab coats; generally just using clothes that you do not mind corroding/staining/bleaching
.aprons are safer to remove than coats if large splashes are anticipated


No, that is not true. Lab coat is the one of the cheapest thing. The proper lab coat is made usually from cotton which is not flammable and doesn't melt.
Using not appropriate material can lead to serious health damage.
If you have a spill taking the coat off is very safe. You can even rip it off if needed. Imagine situation when you have really toxic spill for example on old sweater. And to take it off you have to do it by moving it over your face.
Another thing - after the experiment you just leave the coat in the lab - usually your clothes underneath it are clean and you don't have to worry about possible contamination. If you're not using the coat you should change the clothes after leaving the lab space.
Of course it depends on the things that you do. But even if you're just growing NaCl crystals you should get used to the safety routine.

Safety should be considered at the first place, it's more important than the rest of the stuff that you need. Lab coat, eye protection, ventilation (fume hood preferable or a well ventillated space) and proper fire extinguisher are the most important.
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[*] posted on 15-6-2020 at 01:49


+1 on the safety gear. Having said that, I am not always pedantic on the coat and gloves. It does depend on what I am doing. Half my time in the lab is just cleaning up it seems.

I recommend you go to the "tour my lab" thread for a range of ideas and approaches. Most posts there are at the beginning stages of lab setup and so give a good indication of how we start out. The main recurring theme on amateur labs is unsophistication. The second is innovation. So, have fun.
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[*] posted on 15-6-2020 at 04:07


I can totally agree with unsophistication. When younger, I just used to skip boring or "unnecessary" steps, and generally throwing things together and expecting good results, usually ending in disappointment. Exceptions were simple reactions that were almost impossible to screw up. When I got a new idea, I read just barely enough to do things, and proceed. Only thing I'm glad that I actually checked scrupulously every chemical and reaction that there is no risk of explosion or generation of highly toxic side reactions. My nightmare has always been getting a runaway reaction.
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[*] posted on 15-6-2020 at 05:36


Just concentrate on something simple that you want to do. For example I started from two beakers thermometer bottle of sulfuric acid and nitrate and I made nitrocellulose. I spent 100PLN on my first lab gear. But as time progressed, I had more money (or just my parents were buying me) I had more ideas and things that I knew I need so I just bought them and my lab progressed. This is a good way because you don't spend too much at once and learn much more about how laboratory works and gain enough experience to work with more advanced gear. This is the best way.
I started when I was 13-14 years old and I'm glad I was doing it step by step.

Of course I could tell you now that real lab starts with hotplate stirrer and decent vacuum pump along with vacuum distillation aparature, but you'll know when can you afford it and when do you really need it.

Gasmask is also essential when it comes to work with poisonous chemicals or gases, but as for fumehood I never used one, just go outside if you have a good place to work there, it is way beyond any fumehood and is for free.

Of course googles and gloves are essential too. Buy yourself some comfortable and resistant gloves that you'll be able to wear all the time.

[Edited on 15-6-2020 by mackolol]
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