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Author: Subject: Cold pack disappointment
mr.crow
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Cold pack disappointment

I used up all my home made KNO3 today lighting off smoke mixes for the Victoria Day holiday with the GF. To make up for this I already got some NH4NO3 cold packs to make some more.

The packs are mostly dirt with the solution resembling mud. Usually I get around 250g, but these measured 292g.

So it looks like the best Canadian source of ammonium nitrate is getting cut off

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble
hkparker
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Same here in the US, cold packs are mostly urea now, its hard to find the ammonium nitrate ones.

"Nothing is too wonderful to be true if it be consistent with the laws of nature." -Michael Faraday
entropy51
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 Quote: Originally posted by hkparker Same here in the US, cold packs are mostly urea now, its hard to find the ammonium nitrate ones.
It may just be a local thing. NH4NO3 cold packs were rare here a few years ago, but now the local CVS pharmacy stores have loads of them. The contents are quite pure too.
mr.crow
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Well its the same cold packs I used before and I think they still have ammonium nitrate. Usually there is a tiny amount of dirt that I filter out, now there is a 50mL layer of mud on the bottom of the beaker.

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble
smaerd
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I recently bought some in the US that was pure white, not grunge or dirt or anything.
mr.crow
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I guess its hit or miss. There was indeed mud in it, a very fine sand. Sort of like clay. I filtered it out to get a slightly yellow solution. Then I mixed with KCl solution, boiled off some water, cooled, etc.

KNO3 crystals look like Superman's Fortress of Solitude

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smaerd
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If your looking for ammonia, then maybe diammonia phosphate at brewstores would work. If your looking for nitrates, stump removers have it right?
MagicJigPipe
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I have found one stump remover that contained NaNO3. It was really expensive, too.

Up until about a year ago I could buy the NH4NO3 cold packs just about anywhere. I sure hope they aren't gone now. I should stock up on a few kgs the next chance I get.

"There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry ... There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. ... We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress." -J. Robert Oppenheimer
Bot0nist
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I am not sure if you have dollar stores in CAN, but I just went into Dollar Tree today and they had insta-cold compresses for a $1.20 usd and the ingredients listed are water and ammonium nitrate. I bought six packs. Just opened them and they contain an inner bag with water and the outer bag is filled with ~55 grams of pure white prills (little beads). Tested positive for both nitrate content and ammonia evolution and no insoluble(dH2O) impurities were observed. Prills were ground up (rolling pin), dehydrated in low heat, and then packaged in an airtight container to help with hygroscopy issues. I would post some pictures, but I am sure you all now what to look for. Just saying, keep looking. I live in a relatively large city in a conservative state(not sure if that matters) in the USA but have had no trouble finding reagents, even though many claim that things like toluene, glycerol, and other, once common OTC chemicals are becoming scarce. I just haven't seen it here. Maybe I'm just lucky. U.T.F.S.E. and learn the joys of autodidacticism! Don't judge each day only by the harvest you reap, but also by the seeds you sow. cyanureeves International Hazard Posts: 593 Registered: 29-8-2010 Location: Mars Member Is Offline dollar general has them too for$1.50 and it weighed more than walmarts. it was my secret store but i will share because this place has parted with lots of info.
MagicJigPipe
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Great. I hadn't thought about checking Dollar General and Dollar Tree again. I know they once had them but had just assumed they had gotten rid of them like everyone else. Kroger used to have them and so did Wal-Mart. I doubt they do anymore.

"There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry ... There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. ... We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress." -J. Robert Oppenheimer
hyperkinetic
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Shoppers Life brand cold packs still contain ammonia nitrate, some packs contain clean white pills with the odd discolored lump and other packs are much larger very dirty prills(also tiny pebbles! WTF?). Only some Shoppers carry cold packs and some that carry cold packs carry a brand name version and not the Life brand, the brand name ones are urea.

I bought some recently and after gutting them found that I had both the pure prills and the dirty prills. The solid volume for the two purities is roughly the same, the packs with the dirty prills felt heavier, but I did not have a chance to weigh them.

The packaging, bar code, manufacture information and cost is all the same so there is no way to tell them apart - unless you open a box and hold an individual pack up to a light.

Edit: Added picture. Nope picture to big. Fail. Resizing.

Edit2: De-fail.

[Edited on 25-5-2011 by Hyperkinetic]

[Edited on 25-5-2011 by hyperkinetic]
mr.crow
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 Quote: Originally posted by hyperkinetic Shoppers Life brand cold packs still contain ammonia nitrate, some are clean white pills with the odd discolored lumps and others are much larger very dirty prills(also tiny pebbles! WTF?). Only some Shoppers carry cold packs and some that carry cold packs carry a brand name version and not the Life brand, the brand name ones are urea. I bought some recently and after gutting them found that I had both the pure prills and the dirty prills. The solid volume for the two purities is roughly the same, the packs with the dirty prills felt heavier, but I did not have a chance to weigh them. The packaging, bar code, manufacture information and cost is all the same so there is no way to tell them apart - unless you open a box and hold an individual pack up to a light.

Yes, those are the ones I am using. They are either reasonably clean or very dirty. Dirty ones were heavier.

So maybe check each box and buy the lighter ones? Like buying melons at a market, haha

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble
hyperkinetic
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Fantastic. I'll relish bouncing boxes of cold packs in each hand like melons, there goes the illusion of sanity.

I wish I had known that I had a pack of each kind of prill, before I slit them open so I could have made Quantitative measurements. I'll try and get another pack of each and measure the ingredients/purity.

It seems to me that the dirty prill Cold packs must contain substantially less nitrate then the clean prill packs. I don't appreciate paying almost 10 dollars for dirty fertilizer.

I'm going to have to start collecting night soil. I'll toss in a couple printouts of the nitrate regulations to give the bacteria something good to feed on, apparently they thrive on the excreta of the male members of Bos taurus.
Rogeryermaw
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https://www.envirosafetyproducts.com/disposable-cold-packs.h...

i ordered 15 of these and they were perfect. clean white crystals, although a touch moist, that's not hard to fix. orders over 10 are 92 cents each.

here is another supplier carrying the same product in bulk but you have to request price quotes.

http://certifiedsafety.thomasnet.com/viewitems/certi-cool-tr...

[Edited on 26-5-2011 by Rogeryermaw]

hyperkinetic
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Thank you Roger, but I’m very hesitant to try ordering ammonium nitrate across the border. My needs for it are very small and directly related to metallurgical pursuits, I would prefer a source of potassium nitrate or sodium nitrate but I have not been able to find them OTC.

I have a hypothesis on the nitrate adulterants. Under the existing laws any ammonium nitrate with a high purity is a restricted substance; subject to intensive scrutiny, record keeping and end use monitoring. (Oh noes! Evil people want to killlz uzz!!!)

Restricted ammonium nitrate compounds are defined as;
“(a) ammonium nitrate in solid form at a concentration between 28 and 34% nitrogen;”

Relevant legislation lists no tolerances for defined purities of ammonium nitrate. The ban appears to be both blind and blanketing, the only exceptions to its scope are educational, government, and health institutions.

I suspect the adulterant is incinerated soil, which added as an inert material to reduce the total nitrogen value to below the restricted percentages.

This could mean the clean prills came from packages that were produced before February 2008.

While I can not identify the manufacturing dates from the Lot numbers on the cold packs, they are differently appended. The Lot number on the clean prills is followed by the letter "A" and the dirty prills followed by the letters "CAN".

I infer that the clean prills were manufactured in the United States by the letter 'A' while the dirty prills (CAN) where ether adulterated in Canada or fully synthesized in Canada.

Both packages do claim "Made in Canada" but my understanding is that this only means that the components were assembled in Canada.

The box of cold packs with the clean prills came from a pharmacy housed near a hospital. It would be reasonable to assume that their cold pack sales would have been very slow or not at all given the ready access to ice/cold packs from the hospital. The cold packs may also have been in a forgotten box, which was pulled from the shelves but now sold.

My suggestion would be to visit pharmacies near hospitals or even in hospitals and juggle any of the cold pack boxes they have out, maybe there are more of the clean prills sitting on forgotten shelves.

I find it unlikely that the clean prills are intentionally distributed or sold anymore given the scope of the restrictions placed on pure ammonium nitrate product.

mr.crow
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Some muslims tried to buy tons of AN to build a bomb and got busted. They wanted to blow up the Toronto Stock Exchange building right across the street from where my dad worked at the time.

So of course they immediately put in laws to ban AN then other nitrates and chlorates. >: ( thanks a lot

Do you think CAN could stand for calcium ammonium nitrate? That is also a fertilizer mix.

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Bot0nist
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I understand your apprehension, but I imagine that ordering small amounts of NH4NO3 will not bring much suspicion.

Don't order 500kg and nitro-methane of course, but I bet a few ounces to a pound will not raise many eyebrows.

U.T.F.S.E. and learn the joys of autodidacticism!

Don't judge each day only by the harvest you reap, but also by the seeds you sow.
hyperkinetic
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I do not know if the CAN stands for CAlcium Nitrate but it seems unlikely. The dirty prills produce a very cloudy solution in water, but the solution does not become noticeably more opaque with the addition of sulfuric. I will test them again when I have better filtering capacities and can achieve a clear solution.

Perhaps the ammonium nitrate is being produced from calcium nitrate, the import of which is not restricted.

As for terrorism and ammonium nitrate, the 2008 explosives act was by the governments admission and statements, derived from the 9/11 terrorist attacks with only lip service made to Toronto plot.

Mass purchases of ammonium nitrate were already being monitored and where used as a trigger point for the arrests of the Toronto bomb plotters. Before you begin blaming an entire religion for the restriction of a chemical you should take note that by your logic ammonium nitrate faces intense scrutiny and restriction because of the actions of a Christian terrorist.

The truth of the matter is that ammonium nitrate was raised into the public awareness as a result of the vivid demonstration of its powder during the Oklahoma bombing and it has suffered ever since, the religion of the individuals involved is of no consequence. It was restricted because of intense public chemophobia and ignorance.

@ Bot0nist – I agree in theory, I don’t think small amounts would ring to many alarm bells and I think it may even be okay legal to import an impure grade but I’d rather stay clear of potential spider webs. They tend to be sticky and it feels like there are more spiders every day.
Rogeryermaw
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failing a good, clean source, you could always dissolve in water, filter, and re-crystallize.

hyperkinetic
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Thank you Roger, my current plan of attack is to dissolve->filter-> recrystallize->add KCl->recrystallize and so on.

mr.crow
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Its ok, I'm not actually ignorant. And yes their religion is important because it is so closely tied with their political views and motivations. Just like with McVeigh, as you mentioned, being pissed at the Waco Seige. Ignoring that would be like assuming a murderer never met his victim before and making up your own motive that sounds plausible. I believe normal Muslims are hurt the most by fundamentalists.

They were probably planning the law for a while and used it as a way to get it passed. Sort of like when another religiously oriented person lit his panties on fire in an airplane and now everyone gets to go through the naked scanners at the airport. Its been a long time since Oklahoma City and 7 years after 9-11 to ban something obviously used for explosives (in 2008). I think chemicals suppliers only started enforcing it as recently as this year based on experience with one of my sources.

Anyways sorry to get off topic and start an argument. I will look for the A cold packs next time I need some.

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TheAlchemist
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Blanket bans and restrictions placed on chemicals only make it harder for the decent, law abiding citizen (including well-intentioned hobby/home chemistry enthusiast) to acquire them. Determined terrorists and drug cooks will always be able to acquire the materials they need for their nefarious activities.
If one was desperate enough, they could obtain ammonium nitrate from the leachates of decomposing nitrogenous waste, like horse manure. In fact, this was successfully accomplished on a BBC educational science series called 'Rough Science'. Are the authorities going to make horse manure a restricted substance?
I personally have made pure chlorates from nothing more than potassium carbonate derived from the purified soluble extracts of wood ash, a chlorine gas generator from an adapted electrolytic cell containing concentrated brine, and a heat source for the disproportionation of hypochlorite. Are the authorities going to restrict the acquisition of pvc tubing, basic glassware, wood, table salt and batteries?
I must admit, as a home chemistry enthusiast, making your own chemical reagents is often far more satisfying than buying them OTC or from chemical suppliers. Making your own reagents gives you the opportunity to improve your practical technique, and learn more chemistry along the way!

[Edited on 27-5-2011 by TheAlchemist]
mr.crow
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 Quote: Originally posted by hyperkinetic Thank you Roger, my current plan of attack is to dissolve->filter-> recrystallize->add KCl->recrystallize and so on.

Yes, filtering did remove all of the mud. The solution was only slightly cloudy/yellow. If you are feeling advanced you can filter it through celite or diatomaceous earth.

I don't recommend recrystallizing the NH4NO3 directly because of its extreme solubility. It did work but probably still has tons of water trapped in it.

The KCl method uses a large volume or water producing huge crystals. KNO3 has the perfect solubility curve for this.

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble
Arthur Dent
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The brand I buy at the dollar store in my area goes under the name:
AID+PLUS Cooling Instant Ice Pack. That's the good stock! The bag contains about 100 grams of Ammonium Nitrate

The prills are perfectly dry, small and snow white. Dissolved, it gives a clear solution. mixed with a bit of NaOH, it gives off a strong ammonia smell. Package contents states: Ammonium Nitrate, Water. The bag inside the box says "made in China"

I'll stock up on these because they seem to be the best source right now.

Robert

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 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Fundamentals » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition » Cold pack disappointment Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Miscellaneous Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication   » References Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues   » Whimsy   » Detritus   » The Moderators' Lounge