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fff
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[*] posted on 10-3-2019 at 10:10
How to ask my professors for chemicals and equipment?


I'm studying in a university and I want to obtain chemicals and equipment from them legally.
How to ask my professors for chemicals and equipment without negative consequences like, being hated by them, being punished for asking such questions, or having law enforcement raiding me etc?
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Ubya
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[*] posted on 10-3-2019 at 12:51


asking is not illegal, but probably they won't be able to help.
maybe if you get to be friend with the lab assistant or with the professor you could ask for a favor.
i tried with all my organic chemistry professors, they won't help a random guy to get chemicals or equipment payed by the university, they could get in trouble





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[*] posted on 10-3-2019 at 13:27


My experience has been exactly the opposite,
most academics love to encourage learning and involvement.

In the student : teacher situation I suggest that you take the effort to 'understand' each chemical that you want, and think about your plan of action and precautions required.
If you have prepared yourself for an intelligent discussion then your lecturer/teacher will probably suggest a way to obtain the required chemicals.
(it would be wise to ask for 'advice on things that I may be unaware of')

If you are paying for a teacher that is not interested in you or the subject then I suggest that you should seriously consider that.

Although my academic chemistry ended after school age,
as an adult I was able to obtain chemicals such as whiteP by simply introducing myself to the staff of the chemistry department at a university.
This was a different era and a different country, but people are still people so try.
(even recently I went 'dumpster diving' at my local hospital - with (unoficcial) permission and no prior contacts)




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[*] posted on 10-3-2019 at 13:49


Hopefully you know your professors well enough that you can pick the best way to approach them. I never asked my professors for chemicals because of issues with liability. However I did on occasion ask for broken glassware but even then they basically said that it was in the trash and out of their care. It may not seem like a lot but cementing 24/40 joints into pipe adapters opened up a wonderful world of high temperature chemistry. So long as they can see your passion (and you've got the grades and understanding to back it up) they're going to be more amenable.



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Dr.Bob
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[*] posted on 10-3-2019 at 17:50


If you tell them an experiment that you want to do, often they will let you do it, if they have the materials and they are cheap. Usually requires them so know you or work with you before they leave you to do stuff on your own, but I did independent work in both high school and college once the teacher or professor realized that I was responsible. But they all checked on what I was up to occasionally. Give it a try. It also depends if the compound or equipment is often used for non-legit purposes.
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[*] posted on 11-3-2019 at 04:33


in my university they are pretty strict with bureaucracy, last semester they didn't find lab assistants for the analytical chemistry lab in time for the beginning of the course, in the lab there were 80 students for each experience, and just the professor and the lab supervisor to organize and help everyone. each year the department gives to a few students (chosen by their grades and economical situation) to possibility to work as lab assistants for the courses that have a lab, and for this work (about 150 hours spreaded in 1 year) they pay each student around 1000 euros. they didn't organize this thing in time, and the course started without lab assistants, so me an another friend proposed to help in the lab for free until the official students were chosen. the professor was very happy of our support, but was scared that if someone went to check he would be in big trouble (we wouldn't have insurance etc so not ok). all of this to say that many of my professors won't help not because they don't want, but because they don't want to get in trouble (using a lab for your personal use would be a capital no no)




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kulep
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[*] posted on 11-3-2019 at 05:10


Quote: Originally posted by fff  
I'm studying in a university and I want to obtain chemicals and equipment from them legally.
How to ask my professors for chemicals and equipment without negative consequences like, being hated by them, being punished for asking such questions, or having law enforcement raiding me etc?


Where do you live? If your town is big enough to have a university I'm sure there are many drug stores and chemical suppliers. The general public buys a lot of chemical commodities such as sodium, calcium and potassium hydroxides, HCl, many alcohols and other solvents, and many salts.

Such things are usually pretty cheap. The only thing you may have problems finding is ground glass, many times it can be expensive (again, depending on where you live)
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[*] posted on 14-3-2019 at 08:36


I live in UK so unfortunately many "common OTC chemicals" aren't that available.
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[*] posted on 15-3-2019 at 06:16


I'm based in the UK and have also taught in secondary schools and even as a teacher it can be very hard getting extra materials (even for you own classes) due to the focus on technicians needing to manage stocks for a combination of safety, budget and prevention of crime reasons. I suspect Unis may be slightly more flexible but they will still have the same issues. I'd ask the question of one of your lecturers of whether it would be possible "bearing in mind these issues" but don't expect it as a right or get disappointed if they can't help you. Having a specific synthesis that you want to do and explaining the reason why is going to help your case - asking for general permission will put people off. If you want to do the synthesis in the Uni labs then it may be much easier for them to agree than if you're wanting to do it at home.
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[*] posted on 18-3-2019 at 09:10


Make friends before the end of the year !
Chemicals that are not on the program tend to be removed from the shelves during summer break.

I once offered sex for Dimethylaniline to a friend in a high school. Got 1 liter of it :D
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[*] posted on 18-3-2019 at 14:53


Quote: Originally posted by Herr Haber  

I once offered sex for Dimethylaniline to a friend in a high school. Got 1 liter of it :D


Aaaaaaalright, prostituting for chemicals





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Vomaturge
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[*] posted on 18-3-2019 at 17:44
http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=83054&page=2


Umm... did you do it OTC?

to the OP: I doubt that the professor will let you borrow any chemicals or equipment. I would suggest asking not "can I borrow some XYZ" but rather "what do you do with broken apparatus and discarded chemicals?"

That's about how yours truely got a 2kv transformer of questionable 1.35kva capacity, a conservatively rated 2.1kVAC 850nF capacitor, a big high voltage rectifier dioid, a synchronous 120volt gear motor/generator, piezo, display,etc... In all more than 100$ of electric equipment I'd guess. All from a thrift store that makes DAMN sure they don't give ANYTHING away and treats most paying customers like potential shoplifters.

Me: do you have any broken microwaves
Cashier: broken microwaves? What would you want a broken appliance for?
Me: umm... a science experiment [ha! More like a hundred different experiments!]
Cashier: I don't think we have any now. But if we did have one it'd be in the electronics recycling bin behind the store.
Me: mind if I look?
Cashier: You can have whatever in that bin, so long as you ask first.

Nothing was in the bin.

Next week:
Me: Is it okay if I look in the electronics recycling bin?
Different cashier: what for?
Me: I need a broken microwave for a science experiment.
Cashier: Aaaaaaalright... If there is one I guess you can have it.
Me:*checks in bin, finds a huge broken microwave oven* Yay!!!

Not only did I get it for free, but I probably kept all those parts from just being burned and sold as scrap metal. And both my dignity and personal bung remained unscathed through the whole transaction.

I guess the transformer is kinda wasted on me, since I'm too scared to connect it to mains electricity. Makes crackling white arcs over 5mm long using an AA battery, though.

[Edited on 19-3-2019 by Vomaturge]
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[*] posted on 18-3-2019 at 18:12


So?

Approach a prof, and inquire as to the possibility of performing an "Experiment".

Like... "I'd like to perform an experiment! What do I need to do?"

A decent chance, the professor will be thrilled.

In my day, there might have been 1 student in a hundred, that had a genuine interest in learning.

Be prepared however, to do such experiments on campus, with some supervision.

[Edited on 19-3-2019 by zed]
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Vomaturge
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[*] posted on 18-3-2019 at 19:15


Doing the experiment as part of the class will actually be a lot better, likely. You have a lot more resources available there, plus whatever guidance the professor offers. That is, if it's an experiment that is okay to include as part of a college class. It's up to you to decide what's beyond the pale to ask about.

"Do you think we could do an experiment measuring the efficiency of nitrocellulose production with different reaction temperatures and acid concentrations?" "No?" "What if we limit the reactants to 5gm of NO3-?" "One gram?" "Still no?" "Never mind."
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[*] posted on 19-3-2019 at 05:35


Quote: Originally posted by Ubya  

Aaaaaaalright, prostituting for chemicals


We had been having fun for quite some time by then.
I met her in the jacuzzi of a swinger club you can guess she wasnt shy anyway :)

I also got the super nice shipping box it was sent it, some teflon stirbars, a decent hotplate, a bit of hardware, 500 grams of phenol...
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[*] posted on 19-3-2019 at 09:33


Quote: Originally posted by Herr Haber  
Quote: Originally posted by Ubya  

Aaaaaaalright, prostituting for chemicals


We had been having fun for quite some time by then.
I met her in the jacuzzi of a swinger club you can guess she wasnt shy anyway :)

I also got the super nice shipping box it was sent it, some teflon stirbars, a decent hotplate, a bit of hardware, 500 grams of phenol...
Wait, why would a random girl have 1L of some quite obscure/uncommon chemicals?



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[*] posted on 19-3-2019 at 09:39


I do not recommend this. These are usually people who spend all of their professional career in a lab, so the idea of a student playing with hazardous materials in the garage scares the shit out of them.

I have had several different experiences with this. I had a high school teacher who gave me old equipment because they knew I could do more with it than the school. I have had professors turn pale when I mentioned making picric acid. And I have had a professor tell me to get lost.




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Vomaturge
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[*] posted on 19-3-2019 at 10:08


Quote: Originally posted by fusso  
Wait, why would a random girl have 1L of some quite obscure/uncommon chemicals?
I was wondering about that. Also, why would a girl give you something valuable in exchange for sex? something smells funny about this story:D:P:o
Quote:
I have had professors turn pale when I mentioned making picric acid.
Great minds might think alike... but some are thinking on a whole higher order!

[Edited on 19-3-2019 by Vomaturge]
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[*] posted on 19-3-2019 at 15:06


Ummm.

Had an arrest here in the USA, not too long ago. A foreign national, working hard at acquiring phenol.

Homeland security apparently thought this suspicious.

So, it appears there may be some sort of "watch" on this material.

Playin' with explosives is generally OK, in the US. . Cannons and Machine guns, are even OK, provided you acquire the correct permits. Not OK on campus of course, but generally OK.

The situation in Europe is probably different. Americans are generally reluctant to murder each other with bombs. Seems like there were decades, in Europe, where bombings were commonplace.

Around here, start looking like a mad bomber, and they will lock you up, and throw away the key.

So.... There are experiments, and there are experiments. Design something relatively harmless, and you quite likely, will get assistance. Propose something ominous, and you will become a pariah.

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[*] posted on 20-3-2019 at 03:45


Quote: Originally posted by fusso  

Wait, why would a random girl have 1L of some quite obscure/uncommon chemicals?


For that high school I mentioned in the first post.
Where she works... and since every year chemicals are removed from the programs they are also removed from the shelves.

I might have been distracted while thinking of her and therefore unclear.
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[*] posted on 20-3-2019 at 09:50


Quote: Originally posted by fff  
I'm studying in a university and I want to obtain chemicals and equipment from them legally.
How to ask my professors for chemicals and equipment without negative consequences like, being hated by them, being punished for asking such questions, or having law enforcement raiding me etc?


Just do like the rest of the planet does and just buy or make what you need.

Ask your prof's for advice on how to acquire your desired chemical with a solid reason on why you want it. Maybe they will give it to you but most likely not.
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[*] posted on 20-3-2019 at 14:58


Ummm. Once upon a time, I worked in a Uni Chemlab Storeroom.

We sometimes honored public requests for small quantities of innocuous chemicals. And, we routinely aided students from other science departments.

Once a local mom needed an ancient diaper rash remedy. Lycopodium. Widely unavailable in the pre-internet world, and not stocked by local pharmacies. We provided it.

We could be hard-nosed, or soft-hearted, depending on the circumstances.

Still, the best approach isn't mooching stuff as an outsider.

The best approach, is becoming an insider.

[Edited on 20-3-2019 by zed]
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[*] posted on 20-3-2019 at 22:02


If you're going to ask for something, make sure it's something innocuous and you can tell the prof that you're going to use it for something innocuous. If you want alum for growing crystals, they'll either give you some or tell you where to buy it (I was once asked for some, shortly after my first year students each handed in their three gram sample- I had lots to give). If you want nitric acid for making picric acid, you'll be told off.



Please remember: "Filtrate" is not a verb.
Write up your lab reports the way your instructor wants them, not the way your ex-instructor wants them.
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[*] posted on 21-3-2019 at 13:01


I had asked one of my professors about "borrowing the lab's free time" to do a missed experiment (everyone missed the experiment due to uni staff's strike last year:mad: ) in order to gain missed practical skills but he replied that he can't arrange that:( so I hope I can do that myself.

[Edited on 21-3-2019 by fff]
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[*] posted on 23-3-2019 at 10:42


Also, is it better to ask them by email or face to face?
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