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Author: Subject: Competition — Lab from five OTC items
j_sum1
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cool.gif posted on 12-11-2015 at 02:20
Competition — Lab from five OTC items


In the interests of giving a little back and because it has been a while since the last competition, I propose a little challenge.

Briefly, purchase five over-the-counter items and use these and no other reagents to conduct as many interesting, useful, novel, educational or just plain cool chemical reactions.

You have some time to plan and execute. Christmas holidays for those of us down south. A whole winter of lab time for those in the north. Submissions are due via email by 29 March -- just after Easter.

Prize is an account at www.onyxmet.com to the value of $50USD, plus something from Tom at Onyxmet plus a funky inorganic package from woelen, plus a little more cash on the account if I can manage it.


Full details can be found in this GoogleDoc:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1R47ZRRW6dpLLS4iKicJTF41S...

I am sure that the comp will appeal to beginners but it would be great if some of the heavyweights and forum personalities got involved too.

This thread is here to discuss rule ambiguities, thrash out ideas, and discuss any matters that arise related to the competition.

Oh, and one more thing. If you think you might be interested in putting in an entry, could you either post to this thread or send me a U2U. I'd love to have an idea of how many are getting involved. If there are sufficient numbers then it might be worthwhile rustling up some more prize money and perhaps giving some prizes for places.

Have fun.
j_sum1

[edit] Prize updated. It's looking like a pretty sweet deal now!

[Edited on 13-11-2015 by j_sum1]
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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 05:47


Hmm this sounds interesting
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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 07:54


Awesome concept for a competition! Out of interest, do onxymet ship to Australia?
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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 08:57


I think this should be a cheapest lab challenge too. Anyone with a pocket full of cash can go buy a hotplate w/ stirrer, glass beaker/ flask, etc. to have everything to start a amateur lab, but what about the amateurs that don't have an adequate source of money?



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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 09:08


I'm pretty sure the scope of "otc items" in this competition is specifically reagents.

Equipment is largely unrestricted with the caveat of more DIY = brownie points.
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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 09:36


There should be some reasonable limit on the total cost of the five OTC items; otherwise, I could buy a car, and use it as a source of iron, copper, aluminum, silica, various engine fluids, polymers to destructively distill, etc.
Something like: the total cost of the five OTC products should not exceed the prize payout (currently $50USD), or a laborers' daily wage in your locale, whichever is less (they're about the same where I am).

Equipment should be allowed, within reason. Many "useful" chemical reactions require more than just jelly jars: distillation, electrolysis, gas absorption, etc.

I have some questions for j_sum1:

1) If an OTC product contains more than one chemical, and you separate them before use, does it still count as only one item? For example, if a product contains nitric acid and phosphoric acid, and you separate them before use, does it count as one or two of the five items?
Edit: Based on the detailed rules, I assume such a mixture would count as a single item, per "Would generally be listed as a single item on a receipt."

<span style="text-decoration: line-through;">2) Do air and water count among the five items? For example, if air is used as an oxidizer in a reaction, does that mean you can only use 4 other items? Since we all have these in practically limitless supply, it would be impractical to restrict them, but I have to ask. </span>
Edit: Covered by detailed rules.

<span style="text-decoration: line-through;">3) Is there any limitation on equipment/apparatus? This thread is to appeal to beginners, who may have very little in the way of proper lab apparatus, but (to some extent) the more equipment you have, the more you can make. </span>
Edit: Covered by detailed rules.

4) You ask for submissions by email. Can submissions-in-progress be posted publicly? Here or in another thread? Of course, final, judged submissions would be by email, and the detailed rules state that all submissions will be posted eventually.

[Edited on 12-11-2015 by MolecularWorld]




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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 10:57


Thank you j_sum1 for sponsoring a wonderful competition and for your generosity!



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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 11:45


This is a great competition. I am afraid I will not have the time to participate myself, but in order to encourage people to participate and come up with nice results and nice ideas, I decided to add something to the prize. J_sum1 decides who wins, I do not want to influence the competition in any way. But the person who wins can send a U2U to me and he/she will receive the chemicals mentioned below in quantities of 20 to 30 grams, good for many interesting experiments at miniature scale. The set of chemicals is chosen in such a way that they allow many inorganic chemistry experiments to be performed with a minimum of special equipment and a minimum of additional special reagents required. None of these is really OTC and for many people they may be hard to obtain.

vanadium pentoxide, V2O5
sodium nitrite, NaNO2
potassium (or ammonium) thiocyanate, KSCN (or NH4SCN)
sodium chlorite, NaClO2
potassium hydrogen iodate (or potassium iodate), KH(IO3)2 or KIO3

All chemicals will be packaged in double or triple ziplock baggies, put in a bubble envelope. The above chemicals are all non-volatile solids, none of them is very toxic, and as long as they are kept dry and well-sealed they can be shipped safely in these small quantities, world wide. Shipping cost is for me.




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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 12:10


Very interesting. I think I might actually participate in this one. I already have an idea :) I don't really need the prizes though. In the unlikely event that I won, could I donate the prize to a needier member?
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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 14:27


I bet somebody will send a toxic recipe,I can feel it.

[Edited on 12-11-2015 by Agari]




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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 15:45


@Mesa
Onyxmet ship to oz. In the case that you don't win the competition, you can make purchases and even pay via bank transfer to an aussie account -- thereby avoiding paypal and international money transfer fees.

@Molecular World
Those are exactly the sort of questions that I was anticipating and hoped to cover in the competition details. I see from what you have crossed out, I did a reasonable job.
Buying a mixture and separating it not only gives you more than one reagent for a single item, it also counts as a synthesis. For example, I didn't know until recently that you could get MEK by distilling plumbers' PVC cement. From my point of view, this is in part a research exercise. I am fishing for ideas such as these.
A car would not count as a suitable item. It has moving parts. That seemed to me to be a sensible place to draw a line.
Ideas can be shared and discussed in this thread if you like. I don't think that will actually diminish the competition at all. You might want to keep your best ideas close to your chest.

@woelen
Thanks for the interest and addition to the prize pool. Vanadium pentoxide mmmmm. Although I wonder if I could make my own from a spanner I have lying around here.

@deltaH.
You're welcome. I think this will be fun actually. But don't think you can escape participating. I have seen what interesting things you can do with two items. It seems this challenge is right up your alley.
Of course, if lab time is scarce these days, you might want to sponsor a newbie by feeding them ideas.

@crowfjord
I'd love you to participate if you can. If you win but don't want the prize, you can still take line honours and defer the rewards to the next in line. Just say so in your submission.

@Agari
Glad that this has piqued your interest. As with anything chemical, there are always toxic or hazardous possibilities. I doubt that will affect things too much.




This competition has been percolating in my head for a couple of months. Inspired in part by the people who turn up from time to time asking what they need to buy to stock a lab. The question always puzzles me since it seems to be often accompanied by a certain vagueness. It is as though they want to get into hobby chemistry but have no clear goal, aren't sure what interests them and have little imagination. I would like to be able to say, "buy a dozen eggs, some talcum powder, a car battery, some paint thinner and a bottle of hair dye. Make four things that go bang, three pretty colours, two party tricks, one elastic bouncy putty thing and a partridge in a pear tree."

It has also been inspired by such discussions as factice rubber, sulfur dichloride, reading about the solvay process (clever recycling of components produced and a large assortment of useful byproducts), ave369's adventures making reagents out of limited available resources, and a few other things. (I hope ave participates. :))

I would really love it if some organic chemists got in the act. That's a whole world that I don't know well. It seems to me that with judicious acquisition of solvents and cleaners there might be quite the assemblage of interesting and useful reagents and all manner of possibilities. I would be particularly interested in anything that illustrates basic organic chem principles well.

Those reading between the lines here will discern part of my motivation. I am collecting ideas that might be useful demos for my students and also ideas that can propel my chemistry knowledge in new directions. I have got a lot of mileage out of disassembling lantern batteries and am looking for resource ideas of an equal calibre.
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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 16:53


By "Toxic" I mean the sort of chemicals that only RogueSci could come up with. They even came up with a supposed path to nerve agent synthesis, I hope that the poster provided a fake guide though.

[Edited on 13-11-2015 by Agari]




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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 16:58


Quote:

Ideas can be shared and discussed in this thread if you like. I don't think that will actually diminish the competition at all. You might want to keep your best ideas close to your chest.


I have a few reasons for wanting to share my ideas early.
I was quickly able to determine a set of five widely available products from which I could extract or produce about fifty-five different useful reagents, using procedures that are well known or have already been demonstrated by members here. I may post the outline shortly, in order to:
- determine if it meets all your criteria
- get your opinion on which procedures, if any, I need to personally demonstrate
- ensure others don't submit nearly identical submissions
And, most importantly: inspire others to do better!




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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 17:11


Sounds marvelous. U2U me if you don't want to show your hand.
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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 17:53


I really like this competition and will most likely enter. I think I have a reaction pathway planned, I just have to iron out one crease...

Thanks j_sum!




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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 18:12


@ j_sum1: U2U sent.

Quote: Originally posted by TheAustralianScientist  
I really like this competition and will most likely enter. I think I have a reaction pathway planned, I just have to iron out one crease...

Thanks j_sum!


"A" reaction? I thought the idea was to have as many reactions as possible.

[Edited on 13-11-2015 by MolecularWorld]




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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 18:22


Quote: Originally posted by TheAustralianScientist  
I think I have a reaction pathway planned, I just have to iron out one crease...
He's dropping hints guys!



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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 19:25


This sounds really interesting. My summer holidays start at the end of tomorrow and given that I now live in a small apartment in the city without any prospect of using proper glassware, it could well be worth it to try making a bunch of chemicals with mason jars etc. I'll just have to stay away from the chlorine gas :D
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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 20:27


Quote: Originally posted by MolecularWorld  

"A" reaction? I thought the idea was to have as many reactions as possible.

[Edited on 13-11-2015 by MolecularWorld]


If what I have planned works out, it will be multiple reactions.
I'm looking at one main reaction with lots of others possible from byproducts or the same reagents.

Quote: Originally posted by zts16  
Quote: Originally posted by TheAustralianScientist  
I think I have a reaction pathway planned, I just have to iron out one crease...
He's dropping hints guys!


Maybe...




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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 20:29


Iron can do lots of interesting things -- but my experience of aqueous chem of iron is that it is a bit of a mess.

If course, you could buy an iron as one of your items.
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[*] posted on 12-11-2015 at 20:53


Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  
...you could buy an iron as one of your items.


Like, at an antiques shop?

'Cause every iron I've ever seen had switches, relays, solenoid valves, and other little moving parts. :P




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[*] posted on 13-11-2015 at 11:45


Thanks jsum (flattered). I don't know if I will be able to enter, but I will certainly try to inspire and help if I can.

Though it won't generate vast trains of series reactions, a couple of weeks ago I found myself thinking about what all could be done starting with paracetamol tablets. They're certainly cheap and OTC nearly everywhere.

Some ideas (not sequential):

Hydrolysis to yield p-aminophenol (HCl)
Oxidation into benzoquinone-imine (H2O2)
Michael additions to the benzoquinone-imine (HCl, H2O2, heat) ... makes perchlorinated product... see chloranil patent (fungacide).
Condensation with acetone to make [bisphenol A]-like polymers and then cross-link. (acetone, HCl then peroxide to crosslink)
Make blue indophenol dyes?

... anyway, not scores of reactions, but very interesting if they could be found/made to work and there's also room for "cross-pollination" between them.

Hey you might even make a blue plastic with added fungicide, all from paracetamol :cool:





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[*] posted on 13-11-2015 at 14:17


I think I'll try this and make some videos.



Smells like ammonia....
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[*] posted on 13-11-2015 at 14:40


Excellent Challenge jsum_1.

I'll not be able to devote any time to it, so i'll throw 50 euros into the prize fund, to be given out as you decide.

If it were me, some Copper compound would definitely be amongst my 5.

Calcium too. Hang on, maybe Potassium.

Decisions decisions ...

[Edited on 13-11-2015 by aga]




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[*] posted on 13-11-2015 at 16:08


Salt, electrolized could make Sodium Hydroxide solution, or Sodium Hypochlorite, Sodium Chlorate, and Sodium Perchlorate from decomposition of Chlorate. Collected Chlorine could make Hydrochloric Acid, or Halogenated whatever. With Ammonia also there could be Ammonium Chloride, Hydrazine from reaction with Hypochlorite, and Ammonium Chlorate / Perchlorate. Urea or Epsom salts might be interesting too, as well as aspirin tablets. Hmm
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