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malford
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[*] posted on 4-9-2013 at 18:42
Monetizing Hobby and Equipment


Typical of my monomaniacal, megalomaniacal ways my hobby of chemistry has begun to outgrow me and my spare room. Help me monetize it so I can justify further investment of time and money in it.

I have a 3-neck 5L boiling flask with a 45/50 stirrer bearing, talboys overhead stirrer, thermometer and distillation column attached. Also in the set up are graham condenser, vacuum takeoff and obviously a receiving flask (2L.) Obviously I have the other basic equipment like heater/stirrer, sep funnel, addition funnel, vacuum flasks, etc. My main interest with this setup initially was distilling nitric acid with sulfuric acid.

Other than selling the distilled nitric acid, how can I monetize this set up or other configurations of it?


[Edited on 5-9-2013 by malford]
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 01:57


Because of the economies of scale its nigh on impossible to make reagents at a competitive and profitable price. Many threads have been made on this subject, and the only possible way you could make money is by making niche chemicals, however this would most likely require a very well-equipped lab.
Or of you could make drugs. That's the only sure-fire way to make money with home chemistry that I know of, but its not exactly rick-free.




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malford
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 02:29
Chemical Processes that Monetize Hobby Setup


My previous thread was moved to Whimsy. This pissed me off for three reasons: 1) I can't access Whimsy, 2) no one posts in that forum, 3) this forum was fine. This thread, as was the previous, is about the chemical processes which can be performed using my setup to monetize and justify the further investment in the same. SM is hosted in NJ, not Switzerland, so show some respect and don't do that again.

Chemical processes = Chemistry in General

Now, what chemical processes, distillations, etc. can I or anyone else who has invested significantly in his or her setup perform to help monetize it? My set up includes:

5L Wilmad 3-neck Boiling Flask
Talboys overhead stirrer w/ 45/50 PTFE bearing
Distillation column
Graham condenser
2L receiving flask
vacuum adapters
vacuum pump
hotplate stirrers, lab jacks, etc.

I had hopes of selling WFNA to justify and monetize my hobby laboratory. After I produce my first batch I intend to have a professional perform the assay, bottle and label it. What other chemical processes could be performed with a standard set up like this, which most persons on SM probably have, that could turn a profit? Which chemicals fetch a high enough retail price that, like WFNA, could turn a profit for very small batches (1-2 liters/kg).

[Edited on 5-9-2013 by malford]
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Pyro
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 02:51


CS2 is valuable and hard to get, so is CCl4.
CS2 is made from charcoal and Sulfur at high temp., CCl4 is made by chlorinating CHCl3





all above information is intellectual property of Pyro. :D
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 03:14


One thing I recently looked into is turning metallic mercury into its salts. There's a big price-differential between what one can buy mercury for (even 'used' from ebay etc.) and the cost of the acetate, or chloride etc. I decided not to pursue it for various reasons, but mainly for having no guaranteed-custom.

Unless selling on ebay (which is self-limiting due to consumer-ignorance, and therefore very low-demand for 'exotic' chemicals), or having a dedicated-industry to sell to, it is difficult to imagine selling 'common' chemicals even if priced at a fraction of the trade-price: Universities and large industry research-labs will buy from the big-suppliers without shopping-around.

With organic chemistry you have many more options. Just optimizing the synthesis of one generic herbicide/pesticide could be a viable business. People make a profit just by buying in bulk and repackaging such things. Flavours and fragrances are interesting areas but the likes of perfume is heavily marketing-based, and depends little on novel-research or the skill of your chemistry, sad to say.

Gold or precious-metal extraction is rather common these days. If you could find a non-common source of a valuable(/newly-valuable) metal before other people catch on it could work-out well. As you mention, nitric acid or anything that has high transit-costs or importation-fees are certainly worth looking into, since this would keep the bulk-price high and make resale more expensive.

[Edited on 5-9-2013 by sonogashira]
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DrSchnufflez
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 04:10


Quote: Originally posted by Pyro  
CS2 is valuable and hard to get, so is CCl4.
CS2 is made from charcoal and Sulfur at high temp., CCl4 is made by chlorinating CHCl3



CS2 is also made from the reaction of C2H2 and S8 at 360oC




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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 04:18


I you are aiming at the local amateur science market, consider that anything that is difficult and/or a lot of work to obtain for you will be too for other people, and therefore worth some money.
However, given the rarity of our hobby, your market will then be quite small so don't expect to make a lot of money. Probably, your time is better spend (in terms of finances) on an extra part-time job.

Don't bother trying to sell to professional researchers. They buy from one of several large suppliers or call a well-established custom-synthesis lab if they need something special they can't make themselves.





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malford
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 04:43


Quote: Originally posted by phlogiston  
I you are aiming at the local amateur science market, consider that anything that is difficult and/or a lot of work to obtain for you will be too for other people, and therefore worth some money.
However, given the rarity of our hobby, your market will then be quite small so don't expect to make a lot of money. Probably, your time is better spend (in terms of finances) on an extra part-time job.

Don't bother trying to sell to professional researchers. They buy from one of several large suppliers or call a well-established custom-synthesis lab if they need something special they can't make themselves.



My hands (and pockets) are full with with my current business, I have not time for an extra job. My interest here is not a local amateur science market, but the global amateur science market, i.e. the enthusiast market to which the likes of SA won't sell, especially exotic chemicals that carry too much liability.

For reasons not mentioned I have taken an interest in chemistry and acquired some equipment and am now simply exploring potential business opportunities. For example, for around $50 I can produce one liter of WFNA with the setup I have. With a professional assay, bottle and label, this can obviously be sold for much more.
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 05:37


Malford:

Please don't use unexplained abbreviations: this is a science forum, not a chat room for mind readers.

I run a chem webstore and know from experience how hard it is to produce things competitively and in sufficient quantities in a lab or home setting (instead of a proper work shop or small factory). Small batches are almost as time consuming as larger ones, so if your product sells well you're forever making more and it gets tedious very quickly. And if it doesn't sell well you won't make any money from it either. In the end I switched to trading these products rather than producing them myself, bar a few exceptions.

At the end of the day it boils down to bottom line: you say can produce 1 L of 'WFNA' (whatever the f*ck that's supposed to be) for 50 bucks. How long does it take to make, how quickly can you flip it and at what profit, is largely what determines whether this is really worth doing without investing in larger facilities to produce more in one session.

I brainstorm everyday on stuff I could either make myself or trade profitably: trust me, it ain't easy and everything's a gamble. Some pay off, some don't.

Things that I think could be of interest to the more upmarket part of the hobbyist market are dioxane and dimethylglyoxime.


[Edited on 5-9-2013 by blogfast25]




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Variscite
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 05:43


I think WFNA stands for White Fuming Nitric Acid. Its a quite common abbreviaton ive seen used around here.



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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 05:58


Quote: Originally posted by Variscite  
I think WFNA stands for White Fuming Nitric Acid. Its a quite common abbreviaton ive seen used around here.


It's possible. How he can produce that profitably is a mystery to me. Starting from nitrates or nitric acid you just don't add enough value by converting to WFNA, I think.




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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 06:25


Another issue, if you are aiming at a global market, is shipping of stuff like white fuming nitric acid. Shipping this from e.g. the USA to Europe is a real pain and very expensive. If you sell chemicals on a regular basis then you will not get away with cheap (illegal!!) forms of shipping, by mislabeling parcels and trying to cheat customs. I can imagine that shipping one liter of white fuming nitric acid from the USA to Europe costs a multiple of the value of the material.

Things which _might_ be interesting is if you succeed in making electrodes for chlorate or perchlorate cells from cheap and easy to obtain materials. If e.g. you make PbO2-coated electrodes from easily obtainable titanium mesh and lead nitrate and sell these as parts for perchlorate-producing electrolysis cells then I can imagine you can make a profit of it. You, however, then need to be able to make good quality electrodes in sufficient quantities. This is a science and an art on its own!




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Pyro
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 06:44


actually rare metal salts do well,
I spent 40 EUR on 31,1000g of silver, that's enough to make about 120g of Ag3PO4
on ebay the only seller wants 30USD for 10g. that means an initial investment of 40EUR can give returns as high as 360USD
also silver nitrate and chloride are good ways to go




all above information is intellectual property of Pyro. :D
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 06:54


Its a difficult thing to do. Potential eBay customers are likely amatuer chemists like yourself, and so anything you can make, they can probably make for the same cost themselves, unless you have resources (whether it be equipment or chemicals) that make it possible for you to make things they can't.

Even then, theres certain issues that need to be addressed:
How can you be sure your product is what you think it is?
How can you confirm the purity of your product?
Is your product likely to be suitable for the average amatuer chemist? Is it appreciably toxic or difficult to handle (pyrophoric? excessively corrosive?)?
Is your product a potential drug or drug precursor?
Can you charge a price that makes you a profit, but also one that people don't mind paying?

One thing that comes to mind is element samples. Zan Divine (a member here) was selling ampoules of alkali metals to element collectors. I'm sure he probably made a reasonable profit out of that, but its something that requires alot of skill and patience to get aesthetically pleasing samples that people will shell out cash for.

[Edited on 5-9-2013 by DJF90]
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Pyro
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 07:07


this week end I am going to purify it as bet I can. the silver was 999 and the nitric acid 99+% the phosphoric acid was from the accident, I'm assuming that was reasonably pure.
I am going to boil it in water, filter it out, weigh and bottle it.

all I want is a return on my investment, getting AgNO3 back from Ag3PO4 is very hard. I would like 60 EUR+ for all of it.

the appearance is slightly off white, not brown as the wiki image or yellow like the other samples on the internet

you can sell whatever you want. I can sell:''empty white phosphorus bottle 10g'' on ebay like my good polish friend :D

[Edited on 5-9-2013 by Pyro]




all above information is intellectual property of Pyro. :D
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 07:25


The looks like a troll thread for a lot of reasons. OP is asking questions on all of our minds and showing no understanding whatsoever of the practical, safety, legal or ethical aspects. If the regulating body chooses to classify what he's doing as a commercial enterprise he may be breaking the law just by venting gasses or flushing salts (hazardous waste) down the drain. That's probably the most trivial problem. If someone takes his WFNA and makes an explosive to blow up a building he could be an accessory to terrorism.

So how about we show malford some respect when he shows us some clue.
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 07:51


Marvin:

EXACTLY! I can't imagine one single country on earth where production of reagants for sale would be sanctioned without benefit of a license.

Its not like the lady making and selling soap at the weekend fair where the end product is ready for use, heck, in most counties in the US they'd want her licensed too.

I'll liken this to gun cartridge reloading. I can buy as much raw material and load as many cartridges as I care to, but I break the law and become a criminal if sell so much as one of them. I believe its also illegal to give them away.

Yep, I saw this as a trollish post too.

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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 08:32


Quote: Originally posted by Varmint  
I can't imagine one single country on earth where production of reagants for sale would be sanctioned without benefit of a license.


What?!
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 08:42


OK, civilized country.

Better?

DAS
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Pyro
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 11:59


well, you don't need to say you made it, you can say it was from a chemistry lab auction or such




all above information is intellectual property of Pyro. :D
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[*] posted on 5-9-2013 at 12:50


In my dabbling in finding ways to make money out of a home lab, I think the most imposing obstacle has been grappling with hazmat shipping regulations (in the US, anyway). There is quite a lot of regulation to be aware of and understand.

Also, it seems to me that it's essentially impossible to ship true hazardous materials (not dangerous goods with limited quantity exceptions) to residential addresses legally. Most carriers will simply not do it, especially if you as the shipper are not a registered business at a business address, and can prove that you've received training in the Department of Transportation Hazmat regulations. One could always snub these regulations, but the fines and penalties are quite high, and I can't imagine one will make it very far on luck if one plans to do business for an extended period of time.

Of course, not all materials that might be profitable are dangerous or hazardous goods, but shipping regulations are certainly something to think about before acting on any business aspirations related to chemistry.
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[*] posted on 6-9-2013 at 06:00


I've found a small market for Silver Nitrate to potters for Roku glazes. One caution: Pottery supply houses have many different chemicals available including a wide variety of metal oxides and salts. The one I frequent has dozens of beautiful pots and containers too.

I have yet to leave without spending money. :/

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[*] posted on 6-9-2013 at 07:50


Selling things to hobbyists is a great way to get into a niche market with a potential for growth. An example would be Sparkfun which has turned into a huge player in the amateur electronics market.

The definition of Hobby is "An activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure". I agree it should be about intellectual stimulation and not money. In fact over the years I have spent shitloads of money on science and electronics things so it would be a net financial loss even if I did try and monetize it.

In terms of chemistry I think its simply not worth the risk. The things being discussed here are exceedingly dangerous.

If you do have an idea the best way would be to start a real business with a real plan, real investors and real licenses. If you incorporate your liability will be limited and personal assets will be protected. Also lower taxes.




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[*] posted on 6-9-2013 at 19:14


Quote: Originally posted by mr.crow  
Selling things to hobbyists is a great way to get into a niche market with a potential for growth. An example would be Sparkfun which has turned into a huge player in the amateur electronics market.

The definition of Hobby is "An activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure". I agree it should be about intellectual stimulation and not money. In fact over the years I have spent shitloads of money on science and electronics things so it would be a net financial loss even if I did try and monetize it.

In terms of chemistry I think its simply not worth the risk. The things being discussed here are exceedingly dangerous.

If you do have an idea the best way would be to start a real business with a real plan, real investors and real licenses. If you incorporate your liability will be limited and personal assets will be protected. Also lower taxes.


I have an LLC, but don't like overhead and large investments into new businesses. I test the waters and build a business once I find a demand. I wouldn't dare gamble on something like this. My vision is for a Spark Fun (SF) of chemistry. In other words, a professional version of United Nuclear. Of course, you might say this is Sigma Aldrich (SA), et al., but I would sell in quantities small enough that liability wouldn't matter much such that I could sell to hobbyists and enthusiasts, unlike SA. Over certain amounts, you'd need an intended use form or business entity and address.

If I found a decent demand, I'd go ahead and transition from eBay to Amazon and/or eventually a branded website like SF. I'm experienced with online sales.

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Sublimatus, what chemical products have you found to be potentially profitable? Shipping concerns can easily be navigated -- pun intended.

Silver nitrate has popped up a couple of times in this conversation. Has anyone produced this profitably?
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[*] posted on 6-9-2013 at 22:14


I agree with Pyro. Uncommon metal salts do very well on eBay. You could consider the manufacture of chemical and element samples, since they sell quickly too. I've actually considered selling small, visible amounts of chlorine as element samples for collectors. Considering my experiences as one, I think others on eBay would eat that up.
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