Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Cheap radioisotope sources

Hunterman2244 - 20-7-2018 at 18:02

In my perpetual quest for knowledge I have expanded into radiochemistry. Are there any cheap(or free) sources of radioactive elements? I know of thorium lantern mantles and tig rods. Money is hard to come by, so I want to spend well.

Sulaiman - 21-7-2018 at 00:17

Americium from smoke alarms

There is little point in doing radiochemistry if you do not have radiation meters,
then you can go prospecting for Uranium glassware and others.

Have you already ordered your lead-lined undergarments?
(Ionising radiation + Gonads = A Poor Choice)

There are so many restrictions yet so few opportunities to experiment for an amateur
that I suggest you re-think your direction.

[Edited on 21-7-2018 by Sulaiman]

Harristotle - 21-7-2018 at 03:32

I'm not quite sure that I agree, Sulaiman.

One place I would really like to see looked at is bioaccumulation of radioactivity. It is well within amateur means.

I am thinking find some mildly radioactive granitic soil, of the kind that is abundant around many of our cities - I know people who grow vegetables in it.

Then look at which common plants accumulate isotopes from it.
Ash some, then count the ashes with a reasonable counter.

It would give us all some good ideas of what not to eat, come the apocalypse. :D

If you live somewhere a bit under-explored, unlike the US and most of Europe, you may find something very interesting indeed. Quite patentable too, if it is unknown, as there must be a few contaminated sites out there.

I would also look at things like Alyssum, which are known to accumulate some heavy metals and have been suggested as bioremediators.

All you would be looking for is a 2-3x increase in specific activity with respect to normal plants to warrant follow up.

As far as cheap sources? Brazil nuts accumulate radium, and apparently can get quite hot. Anything with zirconium is good for beta, as for welding rods for alpha.

Have fun and stay safe!
H.

Sulaiman - 21-7-2018 at 03:51

You may be correct, but the original question was all wrong,
starting with acquisition of radiation sources rather than protection, measurement, storage and disposal, regulatory and transport concerns etc.
Until those issues are covered I consider it unwise to encourage or enable the acquisition of radioisotopes.

I myself no longer keep radioisotopes, G-M tubes etc.
just my diy spinthariscope remains,
and I worked for Radiation Dynamics and Harwell so I'm not an anti-nuclear nutcase.

Hopefully Hunterman2244 will come back and argue his case and maybe I'll be more positive ?

Hunterman2244 - 21-7-2018 at 04:11

Quote: Originally posted by Sulaiman  
Americium from smoke alarms

There is little point in doing radiochemistry if you do not have radiation meters,
then you can go prospecting for Uranium glassware and others.

Have you already ordered your lead-lined undergarments?
(Ionising radiation + Gonads = A Poor Choice)

There are so many restrictions yet so few opportunities to experiment for an amateur
that I suggest you re-think your direction.

[Edited on 21-7-2018 by Sulaiman]

An ionization chamber is a simple project. A diy gieger counter is also pretty easy and can be done >$100. Radiation from a reasonable sized sample deteriorates within inches of air. I don't plan to make a uranium chair, so I think I am reasonably safe. Plus wearing lead is probably worse.

As for Brazil nuts, they contain radium in the nanocurie range, that would be a fun project, but not practically viable.

Q.E.D.

Sulaiman - 21-7-2018 at 04:21


MJ101 - 21-7-2018 at 04:27

Quote:
[quote=Hunterman2244]An ionization chamber is a simple project. A diy gieger counter is also pretty easy and can be done >$100.



Q.E.D. :)

https://www.imagesco.com/articles/geiger/build_your_own_geig...

They offer a kit, as well as uranium ore and Cs137.

The greatest loss is the death of wonder and awe. It's also said to be childhoods' end.

Let's be kids forever. :)


[Edited on 21-7-2018 by MJ101]

Hunterman2244 - 21-7-2018 at 04:28

Quote: Originally posted by Sulaiman  
You may be correct, but the original question was all wrong,
starting with acquisition of radiation sources rather than protection, measurement, storage and disposal, regulatory and transport concerns etc.
Until those issues are covered I consider it unwise to encourage or enable the acquisition of radioisotopes.

I myself no longer keep radioisotopes, G-M tubes etc.
just my diy spinthariscope remains,
and I worked for Radiation Dynamics and Harwell so I'm not an anti-nuclear nutcase.

Hopefully Hunterman2244 will come back and argue his case and maybe I'll be more positive ?
Sorry to post again, I didn't see this before. Basic protection is pretty simple, know decay products (e.g. Use fumehood when working with radium due to radon). Besides the same safety equipment you take for chemistry, proper storage is needed. Lead pigs, lead cabinets, and a proper location are various ways that one could deal with that. Just because I am new to this doesn't mean I don't know anything. I am competent enough to deal with it, I simply wish to make it reasonably achievable.

Ubya - 22-7-2018 at 01:16

contamination would be a major problem, i know you are not going to experiment with kilograms of radioactive compounds, but even a small spill can be a pain to clean, everything would get radioactive in your fumehood after a few accidents, not high levels of radiation i hope, but enough to be concerned in working a few hours a day in that environment.
then there's the problem of waste disposal, if you work with radioactive ore to extract for examle uranium, thorium, radium etc, you'll get quite a bit of radioactive waste, how do you plan to dispose all of your waste? throwing it in the sea or burying it in a field?
there are a lots of things to plan before experimenting

unionised - 22-7-2018 at 02:03

Quote: Originally posted by Ubya  
f you work with radioactive ore to extract for examle uranium, thorium, radium etc, you'll get quite a bit of radioactive waste, how do you plan to dispose all of your waste? throwing it in the sea or burying it in a field?
there are a lots of things to plan before experimenting


When you have finished, the material will be exactly as radioactive as when you started.
If you started by digging uranium ore from a field, and then dumped the waste back there it would make little difference.

Hunterman2244 - 22-7-2018 at 10:17

Quote: Originally posted by Ubya  
contamination would be a major problem, i know you are not going to experiment with kilograms of radioactive compounds, but even a small spill can be a pain to clean, everything would get radioactive in your fumehood after a few accidents, not high levels of radiation i hope, but enough to be concerned in working a few hours a day in that environment.
then there's the problem of waste disposal, if you work with radioactive ore to extract for examle uranium, thorium, radium etc, you'll get quite a bit of radioactive waste, how do you plan to dispose all of your waste? throwing it in the sea or burying it in a field?
there are a lots of things to plan before experimenting

I can process the waste by reducing it to a solid form, which can be baked into glass, or simply stored, until it can have any radioactive components removed or properly disposed of.

plastics - 22-7-2018 at 12:25

Quote: Originally posted by unionised  
Quote: Originally posted by Ubya  
f you work with radioactive ore to extract for examle uranium, thorium, radium etc, you'll get quite a bit of radioactive waste, how do you plan to dispose all of your waste? throwing it in the sea or burying it in a field?
there are a lots of things to plan before experimenting


When you have finished, the material will be exactly as radioactive as when you started.
If you started by digging uranium ore from a field, and then dumped the waste back there it would make little difference.


LMAO unionised!

People are so full of holier than thou pretentious sh*t

Hunterman2244 - 22-7-2018 at 13:44

So is anybody going to help?

Hunterman2244 - 22-7-2018 at 14:31

Quote: Originally posted by j_sum2  
Depends what kind of help. For example, if you have any disease, my advice is to stop all activities. Eating, drinking, watching, anything sexual, walking, talking, touching electronics or any device... Under these conditions all diseases and pains dissappear, and your sinuses become uncloged, pus dissappears from all sick body parts. Of course you have to remove cause of cause, then cause of cause, and up to first cause, but do not perfectize.

For example you can't do that through anger, fear, boredom, negativity, or any suffering. Only bad things can happen from bad things. Find some positivity, like another dimension, luck, immortality... Find meaning in life.

Saying just "you should do that and everything will be ok" is not enough. But if you find what is your cause of let's say overeating, then you can remove that cause. Most common cause is boredom. But it could be anything, like lack of something, excess of something, suboptimal conditions.

For example if you try to find love of life aka wife, through boredom, you will divorce soon, for exact same reason - boredom.

I mean we are live beings, and we depend on emotions, well-being, optimal conditions. For example you can't do anything just through hard work. Because that "hard work" will have to be sooner or later interrupted by sleep, if not something worse like disease or some enemy.

Time is our enemy. Hope you understand everything here. And so this does not be considered off topic or detritus, I will answer your topic below.

My advice is potassium. It has just enough radiation for begginers, and is used for beginners. It contains enough K-40 to be measured, used for small experiments, etc.

Buy or just collect from ashes large quantity of potassium, there are many sources.

[Edited on 22-7-2018 by j_sum2]

Thanks. My interest is more towards always unstable elements vs certain isotopes. Although the chemistry of potassium(and the alkali metals in general) is interesting.

Hunterman2244 - 22-7-2018 at 15:02

Quote: Originally posted by j_sum2  
But what you wann do with it? Just measure radiation or produce other radioactive elements/isotopes and particles? Something temporary or more permanent. I can give you different answer depending on your intentons.

I am interested in the chemistry of these elements. Production of if he particles and other areas of nuclear physics are also part of my interest, although a bit further along.

Ubya - 22-7-2018 at 15:53

Quote: Originally posted by Hunterman2244  
So is anybody going to help?


well the answer is not that simple. if you live near an uranium mine the cheapest way would be to get a geiger counter and go searching hot rocks.
americium is "cheap", by cheap i mean that a single button is about $2 on aliexpress or ebay, but you get just a few micrograms (or nano i don't remember).
thorium dioxide is in some TIG welding electrodes, there are a few topics on this forum on how to extract it.
thorium mantles also are a source of thorium dioxide but i don't think they are cheap right now ( or at least i didn't find any for a good price)
i saw somewhere how to extract actinium from uranium ore (milligrams from many kilograms of ore)

i'm not aware of any other "cheap" or easy to get radioactive isotopes, extracting them from uranium ore would be the cheapest if you can get the ore for free

Hunterman2244 - 23-7-2018 at 14:06

Quote: Originally posted by Ubya  
Quote: Originally posted by Hunterman2244  
So is anybody going to help?


well the answer is not that simple. if you live near an uranium mine the cheapest way would be to get a geiger counter and go searching hot rocks.
americium is "cheap", by cheap i mean that a single button is about $2 on aliexpress or ebay, but you get just a few micrograms (or nano i don't remember).
thorium dioxide is in some TIG welding electrodes, there are a few topics on this forum on how to extract it.
thorium mantles also are a source of thorium dioxide but i don't think they are cheap right now ( or at least i didn't find any for a good price)
i saw somewhere how to extract actinium from uranium ore (milligrams from many kilograms of ore)

i'm not aware of any other "cheap" or easy to get radioactive isotopes, extracting them from uranium ore would be the cheapest if you can get the ore for free
I am in Florida, about as far as one can get.

diddi - 23-7-2018 at 17:15

thorium is not that hard to find. i get it from W/Th TIG electrodes

unionised - 24-7-2018 at 01:56

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium_mining_in_the_United_S...

Losalt

Hunterman2244 - 24-7-2018 at 05:16

Quote: Originally posted by unionised  
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium_mining_in_the_United_S...

Losalt

That's still pretty far from me

MJ101 - 24-7-2018 at 07:41

@Hunterman2244: Try to find the book listed in this link.

http://geoffcain.com/blog/science/diy-60s-fun-from-the-amate...

If you're good with your hands you can build one of these. Then, you can experiment with making your own radioisotopes. :)

Hunterman2244 - 24-7-2018 at 11:24

Quote: Originally posted by MJ101  
@Hunterman2244: Try to find the book listed in this link.

http://geoffcain.com/blog/science/diy-60s-fun-from-the-amate...

If you're good with your hands you can build one of these. Then, you can experiment with making your own radioisotopes. :)

That seems... unsafe.

MJ101 - 24-7-2018 at 12:20

@Hunterman2244: Yes it could be unsafe. It all depends on the metal you use as the target plate.
As far as I remember, these devices are electron accelerators.

The article in the amateur scientist book explains all of that, as well as safety tips.

Hunterman2244 - 25-7-2018 at 16:07

Quote: Originally posted by MJ101  
@Hunterman2244: Yes it could be unsafe. It all depends on the metal you use as the target plate.
As far as I remember, these devices are electron accelerators.

The article in the amateur scientist book explains all of that, as well as safety tips.

Ok, I'll look into it.

MultiplePersonality - 25-7-2018 at 17:17

And they must be proton or ion accelerators, that is needed for entering into "nuclear dimension".
All you really use different from normal chemistry is much higher voltage (about million times) than for standard stuff like electrolysis. And really you won't lose any energy by doing such experiments, because only proportions are important. While it is true that you need high voltage, you also get free energy from nuclear reactions, and you can use it as heat for distillation or heating or drying. Of course dangerous just like everything.

Hunterman2244 - 25-7-2018 at 17:47

Quote: Originally posted by MultiplePersonality  
And they must be proton or ion accelerators, that is needed for entering into "nuclear dimension".
All you really use different from normal chemistry is much higher voltage (about million times) than for standard stuff like electrolysis. And really you won't lose any energy by doing such experiments, because only proportions are important. While it is true that you need high voltage, you also get free energy from nuclear reactions, and you can use it as heat for distillation or heating or drying. Of course dangerous just like everything.

You again?

symboom - 26-7-2018 at 00:59



I remember some people build fusors
I donnt think i have seen a homemade one produce neutrons
Element transmutation now that sound like fun.

The only source i could think about is americium wrapped in a sheet of lithium aluminum alloy the alpha particle passes through the aluminum and beta particle is left and combines with the lithium. Produces tritium and that fuses with the ather isotope of hydrogen.

Alpha emitters
Thorium
Americium

Alpha particle accelerator?

Just dont do a renactment of the nuclear boy scout




Hunterman2244 - 27-7-2018 at 05:25

I found 6 lb thing of uranium ore on eBay for $44.

Ubya - 27-7-2018 at 07:27

Quote: Originally posted by Hunterman2244  
I found 6 lb thing of uranium ore on eBay for $44.



GG man!
now you can crush it and remove uranium, thorium and radium :)

stamasd - 5-8-2018 at 10:24

I have a big bag about 50lbs of radioactive material. I bought it at Home Depot. :)

(spoiler: it's KCl sold as water softener. The 40K contained within makes a Geiger counter click merrily away, many times above the background)

Frankenshtein - 22-9-2020 at 08:20

On radioactive waste, perhaps putting it back where you got it is reasonable. The problem is when it's around unexpected places and near civilization, and that all your equipment is also said waste.

Imagesco also sells all kinds of sources. It would be really cool having a microscopic piece of polonium. Not worth the money though.

I looked at inertial confinement fusion a while back because I wanted to know how they got so many kiloamps and watts into their systems. Apparently its like a big room chock full of capacitors discharging, IIRC. Kiloamps just seemed crazy to me. Takes some pretty big wires...

Btw, homemade fusors, by way of neutron radiation, actually turn the equipment (vaccuum chamber and anything else it touches) into radioactive waste. Like, it will make the stainless steel or aluminum chamber parts emit radiation.

[Edited on 22-9-2020 by Frankenshtein]

TriiodideFrog - 26-11-2020 at 18:34

Smoke detectors have a bit of radioactive foil inside, usually americium. Just make a quick trip to Walmart and get a few smoke detectors. \

You can also blowtorch lantern mantles to powder and mix the powder with some lithium from a battery and wrap it in foil. Then,
drop the foil into a tin can filled with cooking oil. Finally, blowtorch it one last time. This will give you radioactive thorium.

itsallgoodjames - 3-12-2020 at 06:44

The issue with smoke detectors is they contain less than 1 microgram of americium. They're fine as alpha* sources, but if you want sizeable amounts of americium, smoke detectors aren't a great source. Not that there's really any other options for americium though.

Sidenote, if you're in Eastern Europe, a lot of Soviet-era smoke detectors contain a small piece of plutonium. Probably the only way to get plutonium legally.

*(If I recall correctly, I'm pretty sure americium 241 is an alpha emmiter)

clearly_not_atara - 3-12-2020 at 08:23

If you want to order some thorium or depleted uranium so that you can observe their unusual and interesting chemical properties, be my guest. I don't think it's too difficult or regulated or something.

If, however, you are thinking about working with high-activity isotopes such as... anything else, stop right there.

Chemists are used to dealing with certain kinds of dangers. Usually things smell bad, or give you a headache, or bubble, or make noise, or something else. But radiation isn't like any of that. A lethal radiation injury is generally not noticeable until hours after it is too late. (Death is generally slow and painful.) And lead shielding isn't always the right choice. And if you think you're going to use a Geiger counter to keep yourself safe while working with radionuclides, you need to maybe review the Wikipedia article on what those are actually for.

That's not to say that you can't work with radiation. But if you're thinking about doing any kind of experiment with any radiation source other than 238U, 232Th or 40K, you need to set your ego down and spend a few months [at bare minimum] taking online courses until you:

- know what a characteristic X-ray is
- know the difference between Gy and Sv
- know what the attenuation factor mu and mu/rho is for common materials and where to look it up
- know AT LEAST what ion chamber, OSLD and diode detectors are, and which one you use (and how) to make sure you're not about to kill yourself
- know what kind of radiation source you're planning to work with, what kind of radiation it emits, what contaminants it produces, and how to properly contain/dispose of those
- know the local laws, procedures, and certifications required to do any of the things you're planning on doing, because fun fact, all of this stuff comes with LONG prison terms

Source: currently doing a PhD on this stuff and I wear a dosimeter when I go into work every day, don't ask me anything, I'm busy

[Edited on 3-12-2020 by clearly_not_atara]

brubei - 4-12-2020 at 05:28

look for Uranium glass on ebay

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Green-Vaseline-glass-dragonfly-cand...

really cheap vintage glasses with vitrified uranium oxyde

violet sin - 26-2-2021 at 13:37

I watched a YouTube vid ( https://youtu.be/3BA5bw1EV5I ) about some horrible personal health products and paused the vid to see if I could find one for sale... yep. Search aliexpress for "nano energy point zero wand"... They are about 9$ US and I just picked up two. Took a month to get here but hey, they register about 250 CPM on a GQ GMC 320+ v4 with an M4011 tube.

The packaging did NOT read hot after removing the items so.... That's nice. It's not just poorly pressed in and leaking radioactive dust.

You want a sample, there you go. Be reasonable with them, keep it someplace outta the way etc. I'm sharing this to show it's possible to get a cheap source, not so someone can go tear it open and spill powder all over. I'm not opening any of mine. I've not done chem on any of the samples I've collected. Just placed my geiger counter on them and logged the data for a few hours with geigerlog software found on sourceforge. It's a python program talked about on the GQ forum for their geiger counters.

IMG_20210225_082815217~2.jpg - 1.6MB

Mailinmypocket - 8-3-2021 at 11:35

For $10 you can purchase a “Geiger counter test card” from United Nuclear. They ship internationally (I’m in Canada). The item is pretty basic, a sealed card with a blob of epoxy-like material on the back with small black flecks in it. Curious as to what the material is, I emailed to ask and was told it’s a mix of uranium acetate and uranium oxide in epoxy.

It’s fairly active and reads on average 1500 CPM on the GMC-320 counter.

For the price it’s a decent source of radioactivity.



EF410249-09A2-4430-A00C-F397AEB13A8C.jpeg - 134kB 842956AD-AA43-49DB-96DA-B43BB5ED9F96.jpeg - 102kB 168B1B36-79E5-4522-9503-76AF0692E57C.jpeg - 105kB

[Edited on 8-3-2021 by Mailinmypocket]

violet sin - 9-3-2021 at 00:43

Mailinmypocket, that's a nice hot sample for a really reasonable price!

That's probably the most reliable bang for your buck option around. I've ordered from united nuclear a couple times, but opted for a vial each of pebbles/grit. $12/$18. Still affordable. Was tempted to dump out the pebbles for a good look, but no. The bigger ore chunks for 45$ aren't so pretty but seem effective for a hefty sample.

My last purchase was some thorianite from minresco.com new owner Michael Shannon. Nice black pebbles. Paid more than I wanted, but it's a cool material and he didn't have a ton left. There's wisdom in keeping your samples few, the money... But I swear if you don't buy it when you have a chance, you find yourself wishing you had.

Off point question, have you noticed sensitivity to sunlight with your GQ 320+? I tried opening the back some time ago after reading on the forum, but there was no change in background readings. Just Sunday, I noticed that if I turned the device to the sunlight just right, not open... It picked up to about 40 cpm, I could find tune that into 50-80cpm. Up from standard 12-17 cpm. With the back off it topped 180cpm in 2pm sunlight, northern california.

Shouldn't be a problem, never noticed diffuse light to affect it. Has me thinking about doing some different position testing. The logging software would show any wavy excursions throughout the day.




Mailinmypocket - 10-3-2021 at 10:52

I’ll have to wait for a sunny day to try that out. I noticed the mention about light sensitivity in the forum but didn’t really think to test it out. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know. Some of the tubes are apparently painted black but mine isn’t...

I find the data logging software made by GQ to be quite crappy. For some reason when the CPM gets too high the data output is glitchy and the numbers don’t seem to make any sense. I intend on trying some experiments with GeigerLog as soon as I get around to figuring out Python and all that stuff, have you used this?

violet sin - 10-3-2021 at 13:39

Yeah, I've been using geigerlog and it's great. I'm not familiar with python, so it was a pain, but the outcome was nice :) the program is easy and fun. Python wasn't too hard to get working and he's since upgraded geigerlog to 1.2 I think.

I'm not terribly impressed with the purchased software compared to the free. And geigerlog is set to do readings from a number of other sensors now. Can't wait to figure out how to record a pile of tracks simultaneously. Although, the readme file is... 100+ pgs so I've some reading to do.

I couldn't get the config file to like my 320+ because every time I edited it with note pad, it changed the header and made the file unusable. It crashed. Left it as was, and I had to handshake the counter to the computer. Buddy said use note++, it's been downloaded but not run yet.

IMG_20210305_011131337.jpg - 5.1MB IMG_20210305_001946359.jpg - 3.4MB

I was incrementing the nano energy scalar wand (lol) every ten min 1cm to find the sweet spot. It read it from a ways away and peaked out over like <1" space :( not much in there I'd guess. Both the blue peaks were an attempt at the same thing... You can see where I fell asleep on the first curve as it goes till morning low and flat.

pantone159 - 10-3-2021 at 14:46

Fwiw, I find Notepad++ to be millions of times better than Windows Notepad.
For one thing (as you sort of discovered), N++ can handle various text file formats (i.e. character encoding like I think you encountered, and also UNIX line endings instead of Windows ones). Many other improvements.

DokterChaos - 15-4-2021 at 00:29

Quote: Originally posted by Mailinmypocket  
For $10 you can purchase a “Geiger counter test card” from United Nuclear. They ship internationally (I’m in Canada). The item is pretty basic, a sealed card with a blob of epoxy-like material on the back with small black flecks in it. Curious as to what the material is, I emailed to ask and was told it’s a mix of uranium acetate and uranium oxide in epoxy.

It’s fairly active and reads on average 1500 CPM on the GMC-320 counter.
For the price it’s a decent source of radioactivity.

[Edited on 8-3-2021 by Mailinmypocket]


that's interesting, and much safer too.
I got a few grams of uranium ore on Ebay, and the small plastic bottle already cracked. it was stored in a ziplok bag in a bigger glass bottle. weird.


[Edited on 15-4-2021 by DokterChaos]

[Edited on 15-4-2021 by DokterChaos]

Xanax - 17-5-2021 at 10:38

I bought radium in form of fingers from old clocks att eBay. But then they removed all stuff like that. Here are some from my collection...




But then the SWAT-team and the Swedish Radiation Saftey Authority just came and took all my radioactive stuff, so I wasn't interested of it anymore, but I still searched at eBay for fun, and I found this one...

Wow!




Then, they also stoled my trithium...



[Edited on 2021-5-17 by Xanax]

[Edited on 2021-5-17 by Xanax]

[Edited on 2021-5-17 by Xanax]

Mailinmypocket - 17-5-2021 at 11:56

I feel like their level of paranoia around very innocuous radioactive items is extreme and unwarranted…

pneumatician - 23-5-2021 at 02:10

The ashes of a corpse??? potasium

40

pneumatician - 31-5-2021 at 18:03

and check silverware around you!

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Government+to+Dispose+of+Radioacti...

you never know what you can find!!!