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Author: Subject: Supposed chemists assume a home still and sulfuric acid is a meth lab
arsenic23
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shocked.gif posted on 1-6-2017 at 18:55
Supposed chemists assume a home still and sulfuric acid is a meth lab


https://www.reddit.com/r/chemistry/comments/6ea36c/help_for_...

In the above link, supposed chemists believe that sulfuric acid drain opener and a glass still at home is evidence of a meth lab.

Some gems:

"Yeah, it's completely abnormal to be doing any sort of lab work at home at any level of education."

"its extremely dangerous and absolutely not acceptable to do any sort of chemistry with solvents or acids in the house."

"Even if this isn't a small scale meth lab, what OPs roommate is doing is extremely irresponsible and morally wrong."

"I'd agree with the majority here in saying that this is most likely a still of some form, and definitely unauthorised."

"OP my best advice is to make your landlord clear of the images you have and to find a different area to stay until this is all cleared up. This is what I would do, normally I would suggest confronting your roommate, but in this situation I don't suggest that because, if he is producing meth he may react in a violent way to your prying into his life and you could put yourself in danger. "

"If its a hobby he wouldn't get punished if investigated."

"Report it."

"Synthetic organic chemist here. Very strong evidence that this student is making meth."


A few months ago this same community both said a member's home lab was too good to be a home lab, and too unsafe to do chemistry in.
http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=65412

The incompetence and in-the-box thinking of /r/chemistry knows no bounds.

Sciencemadness is 10x the forum for chemistry discussion. If /r/chemistry cannot figure out that you need more than sulfuric acid, vodka, and a still to make meth, it is no surprise that they complain every week that there is no chemistry jobs for them. Maybe there would be jobs if they were not incompetent at it?
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[*] posted on 1-6-2017 at 21:03


What is real Schadenfreude is that a chemist would make make meth from a couple of jam jars and a thermomix with OTC reagents. This paranoid tabloid media version of what constitutes illegal activity is shameful in the extreme.
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Jstuyfzand
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[*] posted on 1-6-2017 at 23:51


I saw the post too, I said something along the lines of: "You are all overreacting" and got downvoted to oblivion.
r/chemistry mostly consists of grad students, there are home chemists but they aren't as prevalent.
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[*] posted on 2-6-2017 at 11:38


One particular key example of the ignorance on display in that thread: they think the only drug you can make at home is meth.

Seriously, wat? The guy's a chemistry grad student, he's probably too smart to take meth, much less make it. But he's also likely curious and could be trying to make DMT, DET, methcathinone, MD[M]A, tropacocaine, or just biodiesel or soap.
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[*] posted on 2-6-2017 at 15:22


A still of some sorts along with sulfuric acid???? I'm sure there's a carboxylic acid and an alcohol lying around somewhere...definitely a clandestine fruity ester lab!
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karlos³
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[*] posted on 3-6-2017 at 09:42


Oh shit he´s probably making ethyl salicylate or something like that!
That would really look like he is cooking meth, even with the extraction of (aspirin) pills :D
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Charlemagne
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[*] posted on 4-6-2017 at 13:08


r/chemistry's stance on home chemistry is pretty variable. We've seen them shit all over us before, but a week or two ago a post of Nurdrage's sodium synthesis got something like 400 upvotes.
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[*] posted on 4-6-2017 at 16:16


Not sure if Nurdrage counts as home chemistry anymore.



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Charlemagne
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[*] posted on 4-6-2017 at 16:27


Quote: Originally posted by BromicAcid  
Not sure if Nurdrage counts as home chemistry anymore.


I thought he did his videos in his home lab.
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[*] posted on 4-6-2017 at 16:47


Obviously, there's only few good chemists on reddit. Most of chemists in the world have education but are missing the brains, because the latter is not required to precisely follow some well known procedures. And following well know procedures is the most common job for a chemist.
It's sad for me to see how dum a regular chemist becomes. Obviously that happens because chemistry becomes popular, not because people become more stupid.
Both handling acids and having a still at home are deviations from recommended procedures, which require a specially equipped placement. Obviously, the only reason for someone to deviate from procedures is to make meth. I heard that from TV, those don't lie, because there's a lot of people watching it, somebody would notice errors if there's any.
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[*] posted on 4-6-2017 at 16:56


reddit is blocked by the firewall on my work computer. Does not sound like I am missing much.
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[*] posted on 2-7-2017 at 07:28


Wow, that is absolutely incredible. I don't know what bugs me more; that this kind of ignorance exists among college-educated chemists or that I just spent more than an hour digging through all those threads.

Some more gems:
"I'm a huge fan of home chemistry, but you don't want to mess with Homeland security." (because of a condenser and drain cleaner)

"He's clearly doing something shady and all the signs point to drugs." (drugs, as in, alcohol?)

"I was a home amateur chemist, and I did all sorts of questionable things when I was in high school and college. (And actually, the FBI did come to my university with suspicions about my intent, based on my purchasing history and public posting history.) But I never did any reactions involving heat or ESPECIALLY distillation (or any sort of hot volatiles) indoors outside of a lab hood."

"Why in the world would you make HCl that way when you could just buy muriatic acid (35% HCl) cheaper than the sulfuric acid based drain cleaner? Any amateur chemist would know better."

"Sodium chloride and sulfuric acid make what??? You lost my attention there. Hopefully you meant sodium hypochlorite."

"I'm quite the adventerous chemist and I would never ever do something like that."

OP: "called the police, which shut down my street, brought out 3 cars, a hazmat van, home land security, and 2 fire trucks" - because of a condenser and drain cleaner.


From the other thread, 550 upvotes:
"First of all, there are several really expensive, hard to acquire things in there. Namely the fumehood in picture 2 and the rotary evaporator in picture 3. These things aren't readily discarded or sold to anybody." - that statement is quite simply a complete fabrication. At this very moment, there are more than one dozen professional fume hoods being sold on my local eBay. Sometimes you can get them for extremely little money because the seller needs to get rid of them and doesn't want the hassle of shipping them. Having to drive through the country and pick up a fume hood yourself deters many people from bidding on such an item, leading to many good buying occasions. The same is not true for rotovaps, but I just recently got my first and I got it rather cheaply (although admittedly, I was lucky).

"the chances of somebody having industrial "contacts" at high school level only exists in movies and/or fantasy." - I don't know how someone can even make such ignorant assertions without having second thoughts. I had a really good relationship with my chemistry teacher in high school and he helped me to obtain some chemicals on numerous occasions, without even breaking any laws. There are multiple sellers on here that could potentially supply high school students with chemicals (although that might not be legal, depending on the chemicals sold).

I just read the thread about zephyr's setup. I swear to god, according to those goofuses about half of the stuff my girl does in the kitchen should get her investigated by the authorities.



I believe that this is not just cause for a little outrage, I think it's cause for legitimate concern. I know how important safety is, and that home chemistry can be extremely dangerous. It makes sense to really hammer that into every young chemist's head. But there's a point at which it becomes ridiculous. Everything single thing we do is dangerous. I'd say about half of my friends and colleagues have at some point had a serious or even permanent injury due to some sporting hobby. I have never hurt myself doing chemistry (apart from some very minor burns). Still, we don't say "running should only be performed by trained professionals in a controlled environment and under proper supervision". With such a mindset, we would immediately seal off every playground in the country. Do you guys have any idea how dangerous a swing or a seesaw can be? How many people die each year in backyard swimming pools? No one seems to take issue with the fact that propane gas cylinders can be bought by anyone in any hardware store, or both highly acidic and highly alkaline drain cleaners are being sold right next to each other, but having a condenser in your room seems to be a case for Homeland Security.
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[*] posted on 2-7-2017 at 12:24



[img]I watched a video of meth synthesis and the water layers had similar color (but then again almost everything looks orange/brown)[/img]
These are the kind of expertos that acused him of being a meth cook.
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[*] posted on 2-7-2017 at 13:51


Oh no, has the reddit-idiot really called the feds on his room mate, on a little still setup and some OTC chemicals?
Even worse they did come, and if what I can see here hinted at is true, than it was a complete and ridicolous overreaction :o

I wont bother reading into that again, did so when this thread came up and it angers me too much... guess that is understandable for our kind of people?

If anyone of the brave people who have managed to read through all this nonsense, could be so friendly to shed some more light on the OP´s reaction and the consequences?
I´ve only seen it mentioned here, that the police was called, showed up with several cars, even hazmat, fire trucks etc... but not much more.
Their initial impression of this find, their reaction to it, and of even more interest, how the owner of said little setup, the "culprit" of this idioticism, has reacted to all this hassle caused solely by his stupid room-mate, would be very interesting to hear.
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[*] posted on 2-7-2017 at 14:58


Quote: Originally posted by karlos³  
If anyone of the brave people who have managed to read through all this nonsense, could be so friendly to shed some more light on the OP´s reaction and the consequences?
I´ve only seen it mentioned here, that the police was called, showed up with several cars, even hazmat, fire trucks etc... but not much more.
Their initial impression of this find, their reaction to it, and of even more interest, how the owner of said little setup, the "culprit" of this idioticism, has reacted to all this hassle caused solely by his stupid room-mate, would be very interesting to hear.

I just endured that earlier, working through all the stages of anger that you mentioned.

After most of the "expertos" agreed that something shady was happening in OPs house (although they were debating whether it was just meth or production of -highly explosive!!!- diethyl ether), they continued to agree that it was unsafe to just ASK the roommate what was going on (like any normal and respectable human being would do) because if the roommate was actually a meth addict he might turn violent, so even the bravest and hardiest members of r/chemistry advised against a personal inquiry and in favor of outright calling the authorities. So that's what OP did, having been advised by reddits finest posse of college-educated chemists.

And you know how that song and dance goes - the authorities hear "chemicals", think "meth lab" and all hell breaks loose. They showed up, shut down the street and came with firetrucks and hazmat suits. And of course, they didn't find jack. Oh, and poor OP couldn't get his cat out of the house. That must have been real tough for him.

The tale gets even more incredible: OPs roommate seems to have been "exceptionally understanding and not angry for the misunderstanding", which indicates that he spent some time exercising self-control with Tibetan monks, because Lord knows what any normal person would do if their roommate went snooping around in their room, taking photos, showing them to strangers on the internet and then went on to call the cops because of a bottle of drain cleaner and Smirnoff without even saying a word.



In all seriousness, this could've ended much, much worse. I remember an old thread on Versuchschemie in 2008 where a young high school hobby chemist lost everything because the police raided his lab. There was absolutely nothing illegal going on there, but a "specialist" checked his lab, found an unidentifiable substance and also acetone and H2O2 in a cupboard. He asserted that the substance was probably APEX and recommended the whole block to be locked down. A bomb squad carried the thing to the next playground and burned it down in a bucket of diesel. The chemist was not allowed to save any of the product to prove his innocence because of security reasons, he was charged and tried and to my knowledge he never touched anything chemistry-related again. AFAIR, he and his parents had to move after the incident, it was all over the local news. What that reddit OP did was extremely irresponsible. He could have ruined his roommate's life forever.
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karlos³
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[*] posted on 2-7-2017 at 15:10


Thank you for the quick summary, very nice of you!

I also think the OP´s roommate´s reaction is hardly believable, no way he could have stayed this calm(and why not, it would be his absolute right to be furious...).
But yeah, could´ve been much worse for him, at least he now knows what to expect from other people.
I hope it resolves itself without any consequences.



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[*] posted on 2-7-2017 at 15:58


if the dude WAS cooking meth, the glass would have been setup for reflux. Not distillation. Appears to me the drain cleaner container was simply acting as counterweight on the ring stand base.

PEOPLE THAT ARE IGNORANT TEND TO THINK THEY "KNOW" WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING AT

I'm glad that I live in a teeny tiny rural town in Arkansas. I don't lock my doors or cover my windows. I NEVER put my glass away, in fact a distillation setup has been in place on my kitchen counter since before my motorcycle wreck last September. When I am home my door is wide open. My neighbors, all of whom I know and socialize with used to occasionally pop their head in and go, "Pat, what kinda crazy shit you doin?" I've had a flask half full of EtOH, Iodine, and foil balls merrily refluxing away on one or two of those occasions. Never any trouble.

However, Garland Arkansas is an anachronism. I wouldn't do the same in Texarkana.




Got a vacuum pump!!!!
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[*] posted on 3-7-2017 at 00:08


Quote: Originally posted by arkoma  

PEOPLE THAT ARE IGNORANT TEND TO THINK THEY "KNOW" WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING AT


Ah yes, the Dunning-Kruger effect! :D
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[*] posted on 3-7-2017 at 08:34


To be fair, if you actually read OP's comment, it's clear that the chemist roommate was obviously lying about what he was doing. Probably because it was easier to just say it was for school (which it clearly wasn't), rather than say he was making poppers or marquis tests for friends or whatever else he might have been doing. But in any case, it's understandable that OP would be worried if his roommate was clearly lying about what he was doing with a glassware set and chemicals in his room. I know the knee-jerk reaction is to defend the chemist, but the people responding are actually 100% correct; no chemistry student would ever be asked to do lab work at home with no fume hood or other protective equipment.



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[*] posted on 3-7-2017 at 09:22


Melgar, haven´t read the OP´s final comment, so thank you for the clarification :)
I couldn´t stand reading through all this again, so thats why I asked if anyone could shed some light onto it.
That actually turns the whole situation around, he could as well be synthing an organic peroxide for energetic experiments.

But I don´t understand why people who are even living together, aren´t able to communicate with each other? That baffles me a bit, do they really need the feds as some sort of mediator?
Every reasonable person would have just asked about this activity, never would I have thought about posting a thread on reddit instead of having a quick talk to the person.
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[*] posted on 3-7-2017 at 10:34


Quote: Originally posted by Melgar  
To be fair, if you actually read OP's comment, it's clear that the chemist roommate was obviously lying about what he was doing. Probably because it was easier to just say it was for school (which it clearly wasn't), rather than say he was making poppers or marquis tests for friends or whatever else he might have been doing. But in any case, it's understandable that OP would be worried if his roommate was clearly lying about what he was doing with a glassware set and chemicals in his room. I know the knee-jerk reaction is to defend the chemist, but the people responding are actually 100% correct; no chemistry student would ever be asked to do lab work at home with no fume hood or other protective equipment.

It seems I missed that. What makes you think the roommate was lying about what he was doing? I was under the impression OP didn't talk to him at all before he called the authorities, so he wouldn't have any chance to lie.
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[*] posted on 3-7-2017 at 13:25


Quote: Originally posted by karlos³  
But I don´t understand why people who are even living together, aren´t able to communicate with each other? That baffles me a bit, do they really need the feds as some sort of mediator?
Every reasonable person would have just asked about this activity, never would I have thought about posting a thread on reddit instead of having a quick talk to the person.

That's the thing, he DID ask his roommate what he was doing, and the roommate said it was for school. OP then immediately became suspicious, because that didn't seem like it could be right. Once it's clear the roommate is lying, he went to reddit for help about what to do next.




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[*] posted on 3-7-2017 at 13:33


Then again, we cannot know why he lied. It could be due to a pant-pissing roommate that could start whining over something trivial and completely safe experiment. Which he then did, hence this thread.



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[*] posted on 3-7-2017 at 16:22


Quote: Originally posted by Melgar  
no chemistry student would ever be asked to do lab work at home with no fume hood or other protective equipment.
Actually I can kind of refute that statement out of personal experience. I came up with an idea for a new research project that seemed relevant to what I work on in the research lab, and my professor/boss suggested that I do the preliminary work on it in my home lab because he thinks it's interesting but doesn't want it taking time out of what I'm doing at work.

I'll concede that it's a somewhat different situation since I have a well-established garage lab and happily tell everyone I know about it and offer tours! Still, point is it's not unheard of.

Quote: Originally posted by karlos³  
But I don´t understand why people who are even living together, aren´t able to communicate with each other? That baffles me a bit, do they really need the feds as some sort of mediator?
Yeah, that's the real thing that bothers and frustrates me, too. The chemist should have been more open with his roommate from the start. Drives home the point that I've made time and again on here over the years that being unnecessarily secretive about the hobby will not do you any favors!

[Edited on 7-4-2017 by zts16]




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[*] posted on 3-7-2017 at 18:51


If you can't tell your roommates and neighbors what you are doing, you
might want to do it away from those people. Energetics in particular
should not be experimented with in a multi-family dwelling. Go do that
in the woods or something.

Having said all that, keeping nosy people out of what you are doing
can avoid a ton of headaches. Remember having providone-iodine
and a box of sudafed is enough to charge you with meth manufacturing
in some states (louisiana for one). Finger nail polish remover in glass
containers is surprisingly illegal to have in a multi-family dwelling. Of
course it is seldom sold in glass bottles any more. As is any other
flammable liquid in a glass container. Skip the finger nail polish
remover and go straight to the finger nail polish.

Single family homes are much more forgiving as far as fire code goes.
You can store a gallon of gasoline in the garage and have flammable
liquids up to 500ml in glass containers. Note that this is the model
fire code and some locations it is more or less and beverages are usually
exempt. You can also store 2 x 1lb propane cylinders in a single
family residence. The 20 lbs variety must be stored 25 ft from a dwelling.

And those are just some of the many things you can get charges from.
Not even related to the possibility of drug or explosive charges.

Any interaction with ATF, FBI, DEA, state police or local police is risky
unless you are well known and liked in your community.

Everyone has to make the choice of making their home chemistry
public or not. Public has the advantage that you don't get accused
of hiding it in addition to the other stuff you can be accused of.
Of course if know one knows about it, then you are unlikely to
have to deal with the aforementioned agencies.
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