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Author: Subject: Amateur Chemistry now vs several decades ago
nagyepf
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[*] posted on 2-10-2018 at 10:38
Amateur Chemistry now vs several decades ago


If you are a veteran,can you tell me that was amateur chemistry harder or easier some decades ago than now?
I think in old times you could get chemicals more easily.For example sodium chlorate was sold as a herbicide,ammonium nitrate could be purchased in pure form,no dolomite contamination,potassium permanganate and hydrogen peroxide were also commonly available.
But you couldnt get so many recipes that you get now on the internet.
For example,NurdRage,CodysLab,NileRed did very good work for both amateur and professional communities.
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[*] posted on 2-10-2018 at 11:01


I guess the answer would definitely be harder regardless the experience.

[Edited on 02/10/18 by fusso]




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symboom
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[*] posted on 2-10-2018 at 11:53


Just look at all the ways nitric acid and sulfuric acid had been made
All the way down to old fashioned ways using lead chamber process. And nitric acid from air

[Edited on 2-10-2018 by symboom]




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[*] posted on 2-10-2018 at 13:24


It is way harder now. My dad actually got me Nitric and Sulfuric acids at the drugstore! Their only concern was that I not destroy the house. I never had any red phosphorus, but I am sure I could have gotten it.

I remember fondly screwing around with black powder.

They were all delighted - after Sputnik, that I had a science hobby. This proceeded the "green" movement.

What we didn't have was the readily available knowledge. We had the goods, but not the know-how. Now we have the know-how, but not the goods.
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macckone
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[*] posted on 2-10-2018 at 20:24


Definitely harder now.
Back in the day you could literally pick up chloroform at the grocery store for cleaning dry clean only clothes.
You could also get petroleum ether.
DCM was sold straight as paint remover.
Sulphuric acid could be had at the hardware store in 5 gallon carboys.
Lye was available practically everywhere.
Bleach powder was also readily available.
Hydrochloric acid was available at any hardware store as well.
You could pick up a lot of stuff at the neighborhood pharmacy including charcoal (food grade) and sulfur (99.9%) and potassium nitrate (medical grade).
And this was in the late 70s through the 80s.
And calcium oxide was sold in 50lb bags.
You had to mix it with water then mix in aggregate to make concrete.
Ready mix concrete in a sack wasn't as much of a thing back then.
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[*] posted on 3-10-2018 at 01:16


My first real hobby was chemistry, age 12 to 17.
Information came from school and library books,
in town there was one chemistry supplier, Mr. Hogg,
a helpful old guy who supplied to schools and local businesses.
He had a huge shop floor area - a miniature Alladin's cave.
Restrictions were at the discretion of Mr. Hogg
- he knew what we were doing :P
explosions and fire ... yeah !
I am unaware of any present day walk-in chemistry supplier.

Now in its second incarnation my chemistry hobby started aged 60, to present 64.
The ease of access to information now is incomparable to the few books that I had available then,
and although I sometimes complain about restrictions,
I have been able to obtain just about every chemical that I've wanted,
and my significant collection of jointed glassware that I now have
was just a dream in the '60's.
One MAJOR difference between now and then is the internet,
so much data, videos, and incredibly helpful to me ... SM of course !

Relative to average income I think that hobby chemistry is more affordable nowadays.

In the '60's and early '70's chemistry was seen as a constructive hobby,
it was a good thing if youths were active with all kinds of hobbies,
now there seems to be less acceptance of chemistry as a hobby,
I assume due to general chemophobia and of course terrorism.
In general, people are a lot more risk-averse nowadays.

Overall I'd say that hobby chemistry is probably easier today than it has ever been,
worldwide postage, internet resources, cheap equipment and chemicals ...
what more do you want ?
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[*] posted on 3-10-2018 at 03:41


Of course you could get "recipes" from the Internet.
It was called the Anarchist Cookbook. Around 500 pages of... crap.

You can find a lot more serious papers now. Some people even insist on calling them "synthesis".
Finding chemicals was actually harder for me back then. Sure, I could get potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulphur from the pharmacy and I saw Nitric acid and Ammonia sitting on the same shelf at the drugstore but many other things were totally unobtainium.

Nowadays I can get even the more obscure organic compound by just asking a few select suppliers. Precious metal salts, hydrides etc.
All available easily and not necessarily by the ton thanks to eBay & Amazon. Need a ton or a few ? Alibaba is there for you.
Back then, I could get Mg ribbon or flake. Today I can get Mg with a specified particle size.

So I guess things have improved.
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[*] posted on 3-10-2018 at 05:48


Quote: Originally posted by fusso  
I guess the answer would definitely be harder regardless the experience.

[Edited on 02/10/18 by fusso]
The difficulty depends on availability of everything. From chemicals, equipment, to the knowledge.

Knowledge is basically otc. back then, one can go to libraries to read what they want. Now one can also go online alongside to libraries. So availability of knowledge definitely increase.

Equipment variety and accessibility also increase with time due to technology advancement and internet. Hence availability of equipment and apparatus also increased.

However, for chemicals, I think it's the opposite due to terrorism. A lot of chemicals were otc then, but due to terror attacks, many countries chose the (probably) irreversible path of restricting a variety of chemicals and many of them were removed from shelves in these coutries. And the essence of amateur chemistry is the chemicals. Chemicals! Without suitable knowledge one could still do chemistry (but may hurt himself). Without suitable equipment one can build some himself. But without the chemicals? How could you do chemistry without them? So limiting chemical availability definitely hurt the most.

[Edited on 03/10/18 by fusso]




Useful sites:
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macckone
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[*] posted on 3-10-2018 at 11:32


Two chemicals that are hard to get/make are mercury and sulfuric acid.
Both of these are critical in many processes.

Other things can be extracted from mixed composition products.
You can even get calcium oxide out of cement if you have sulfuric acid but it is a long process involving, converting the carbonate to the chloride, then precipitating with sodium carbonate, then heating to convert to the oxide.

Similarly sodium hydroxide can be readily made with electricity and a membrane (which they do sell).

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[*] posted on 3-10-2018 at 11:50


YouTube will soon lose it's armature chemistry youtubers due to its policies Chemplayer is already on bitchu video platform. Nurdrage and Cody's lab maybe soon follow?

[Edited on 3-10-2018 by symboom]




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[*] posted on 3-10-2018 at 13:09


Most things are harder to get now as opposed to the 1980s.

But the internet is mighty handy for getting some things that were hard to get then.

Back then mercury, sulfuric acid etc were, as said above, available at local stores.

But if you needed something more unusual, without the internet there were few places that would sell to some random asshole on the street.

LAH, HI, THF these could be hard to buy unless you knew of a supplier who wasn't too picky about who he sold to.

Many storefront chemistry and hobby shops would look at you like you had just asked for a pound of fresh human eyeballs if you asked for hydrobromic acid, let alone LAH.

These comments refer to the US in the 80s and early 90s.




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[*] posted on 13-10-2018 at 09:12


Growing up in the sixties my Dad was a bit of an amateur chemist, a hold over from a friendship with his high school chem teacher. He was a lithographer and had an account with a local chemistry supplier. There wasn't anything they wouldn't sell Dad that I was aware of, and much of this would have had little to do with printing.

I was also fortunate to live near a fairly large city, big library. No internet, but we had a CARD CATALOGUE. Worked nearly flawlessly. This library had all of the important industrial periodicals as well. If you were curious and disciplined, there wasn't anything you couldn't figure out. Further, questions asked by an eager teen regarding chemistry were treated differently than they are today. I have seen the chemistry sets sold to kids then, described today as "The most dangerous toy ever sold".

There was also a bookstore in town, Johson's. The basement was dedicated to amateur science. Microscopes, telescopes, and chemistry equipment, frogs in formaldehyde. It was a like a science museum where everything was for sale.

I was in the forest service out of Tuscon AZ in 1979. At that time I could walk into a hardware store and buy dynamite. And as I remember, rent some blasting gear there as well. I understand dynamite has little to do with amateur chemistry, but trust has great deal to do with it. It was easier to do EVERYTHING! And yet, for most the part, we all behaved! Imagine that!!!
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[*] posted on 15-10-2018 at 02:27


I am not sure when hobby chemistry was easier. It is true that basic chemicals were easier to buy in the old days. As a boy of 16 I purchased 96% H2SO4, 65% HNO3, 25% NH3, KMnO4, KBr, KClO3, CuSO4.5H2O, KNO3, NH4NO3, H2O2 (30%), Na2S2O3, and many more chemicals locally in the town where I lived, without hassle. So, for a starting home chemist, things definitely were easier in the 1980's. A nice set of chemicals could be obtained, allowing you to do fun experiments, of course with all necessary bangs, smokes, smells and lights ;).

But if you wanted something more special, then your local store quickly ran out of options and obtaining these special things was nearly impossible. Even obtaining fairly common stuff like H3PO4, KBrO3, KIO3 or NaNO2 was impossible for me those days. Now I have stuff like RuCl3, RuO2, CrO3, CH3COCl, Na2SeO3, SeO2, K2TeO3, Ga, Ge, V2O5, MoO3, HIO3, I2O5, and much much more, which I did not even dream of in the 1980's. Back at that time, home chemistry was limited to compounds of common elements and 70% of the periodic table simply was completely out of reach as "very special stuff" for labs and real scientists. Also, all glassware I now have and all equipment I now have, this would be completely beyond what was possible in the 1980's, even if you had the money.

As a starter, you now have to go online, even for basic materials, and the threats of terrorism and chemophopia have made home chemistry more difficult, but someone who is really devoted now can obtain much more than what could be obtained 35 years ago. My fear, however, is that real interest comes at the age of 15 or so and if you cannot obtain anything interesting anymore locally at that age, then at a later age, people will not start anymore, except maybe a very few really devoted persons.




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[*] posted on 15-10-2018 at 21:15


Armature chemistry then nice and thriving armature chemistry now up and dying out.:mad::mad::o
What will be the fate and future of amature chemistry


[Edited on 16-10-2018 by symboom]




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[*] posted on 12-1-2019 at 07:26


I think we should buy all the chemicals now before everything becomes more strict. I think that we are in the last years when we can buy chemicals... I'm afraid of the future, with increasing restrictions, not to be made a law which would interdict any chemical's acquisition by an individual.
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