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Author: Subject: What is a good first project for someone with college-level chemistry knowledge, but no lab equipment?
International Hazard

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[*] posted on 18-7-2017 at 15:16
What is a good first project for someone with college-level chemistry knowledge, but no lab equipment?

I took 2 year AP chemistry in high school (3 years of chemistry total including the base curriculum class in sophomore year) so I'm confident that I know some concepts that increase appreciation of hands-on home chemistry. However due to a boring teacher in senior year of HS (now graduated) I lost my passion for chemistry which hindered my motivation to go to college. Chemistry used to be my identity and it kinda went on the backburner with that boring teacher, I never thought about it again until now.

Now that I have a job I'm ready to start buying glassware, I have literally nothing right now. I want to start with some basic projects. What are some good first projects for learning lab techniques that don't require me to spend too much on expensive organic synthesis glassware at the start, that would revive my chemistry interest so I can go to college? I don't want to spend too much money upfront. My goal is to start with cheaper basic stuff like beakers/flasks/single-neck RBFs, and slowly add on to the collection every time I want to do a new project. I want to slowly progress towards cool organic stuff like ester synthesis and purification.

[Edited on 18-7-2017 by Cou]

my youtube channel, organic chemistry videos:
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Radically Dubious

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[*] posted on 26-7-2017 at 05:33

Prepare various iron oxides some of which have photocatalytic properties, useful in thermites, and compounds containing Fe(ll) can be employed in Fenton reactions.To the oxides add various acids to form colorful salts. Add bases to form complexes and with NaOCl even ferrates.

Need only a source of Fe, some other household chemicals like NaCl, NaHCO3, air/O2,..., and I would recommend a microwave oven.

The chemistry includes galvanic (electrochemical)/corrosion reactions.

Search iron and AJKOER on SM.

[Edited on 26-7-2017 by AJKOER]
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International Hazard

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[*] posted on 26-7-2017 at 10:26

Acetonitrile (if you can distill), because it opens doors to so much else, and starts just from ammonium diacetate.

Bis(oxalato)borate salts are also on my list as they can be made by thermally dehydrating the borates and oxalic acid and have cool properties like dissolving in organic solvents:

There are a couple of other patents that mention related methods.

[Edited on 26-7-2017 by clearly_not_atara]
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Hazard to Self

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[*] posted on 27-7-2017 at 06:26

Some salt preciptation. You can buy some mgso4 fertilizer, naoh drain cleaner, sodium bicarbonate baking powder and cacl2 deicing agent. Now you can do a plenty of double displacement reactions. Additionally you get a lot of useful anorganic catalyts and drying agents as well as neutralizing and precipitation agents.

Want to check my Youtube channel?
It is all about chemistry and anything else:D
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[*] posted on 27-7-2017 at 08:10

From the Hot ice thread I'd say the making of sodium acetate via ethyle acetate and sodium hydroxide method

Gets you reintroduced to distillations and refluxes and gives you two very useful chems for the lab!

Ethanol (Fairly dry and pure)
Sodium Acetate of very good purity

Best of all the precursors are readily available.

Tools required are minimal

A good RBF and an Allihn condenser @ 300mm and Leibig condenser no smaller then 200mm are the most important imo for a basic starting lab as distillations will be the hall mark of making quality reagents. most you can do with an alcohol burner and methanol hydrate, but soon a good home made mantle will be crucial for user comfort as refilling the burner can get tedious! that and more precise control via mantle!

Subskunes suggestion is all so solid, another source for Magnesium Sulfate is bath salts as that is pretty much the only ingredient and for Calcium Chloride is sold as air drying salt and the cheaper versions is fairly pure.

For mineral acids pool shops and masonry shops will sell Muriatic acid (HCl) if not most hard ware stores.

If lacking any real lab gear Hydrazine sulfate is a very easy one to do with minimal materials just some large bottles and a fridge and plastic wrap!

The Haloform reaction is another one requiring minimal gear and Yields a very useful solvent & reagent in one!

[Edited on 27-7-2017 by XeonTheMGPony]
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International Hazard

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[*] posted on 27-7-2017 at 17:55

Two projects come to mind:
1) Making rayon using Schweizer's reagent
2) Making benzocaine (toluene -> p-nitrotoluene -> p-nitrobenzoic acid -> p-aminobenzoic acid -> benzocaine)

The materials for both of these are relatively easy to obtain, and the projects develop useful skills in inorganic and organic chemistry, respectively.

As below, so above.
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[*] posted on 27-7-2017 at 22:06

You surprise me, Cou. An obvious passion for chemistry and some education in it. You are quick to tell others that chemistry should have a "purpose". You have posted threads previously that bemoan the lack of practical experimentation. And yet you appear to not have a clear sense of direction yourself.

All I can say is, where is your sense of curiosity about the world? I have a list of potential projects a couple of pages long in my lab book and probably several dozen that I have not written down. My lab space has been out of action for more than a year and it is frustrating to be brimming with ideas and not able to carry them through.

I could list some but how much better for you to follow your own passion and curiosity?

If you can't do anything else, how about watching a sequence of chemplayer videos. What he (they) accomplish with minimal equipment is astounding.

What the hell -- I will list some anyway. These could all be done without ground glass.
  • Interesting thermites -- I am still to get a nice nugget of Mn from battery paste.
    Cyanotypes -- Nice cross-over between historical photography methodology, chemistry and art. Lots of fun to be had.
  • Isolating vanadium from tool steels -- or at least a relatively pure vanadium compound.
  • Production of potassium, white P or caesium. All have been discussed here and all are problematic and require fine-tuning of a conceptually simple process. Admittedly some space is needed as well as construction of some equipment but there is nothing expensive or prohibitively complex.
  • Electrolysis -- so much you can do. So many variables that you can alter to get an optimum product -- be it plating, production of an acid or obtaining useful compounds from NaCl or KCl. It doesn't need to be too time-consuming in terms of personal input even if an experiment runs for days.
  • Grow some crystals. The pretty pictures thread is full of ideas. You will need a heat source, some containers, a few chemicals and some time. That should be within reach for anyone.
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