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Author: Subject: Why is Chemsavers comfortable with shipping chemicals to residential addresses, but sigma/fisher/TCI/etc are not?
Fyndium
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[*] posted on 7-11-2020 at 05:50


There is this eco boom where everything must be 100% natural. There is a hardware/interior store chain that sells their own brand stuff and while it's not at all organic store stylish, all their products are riddled with something that is of organic origin and "free of any chemicals". Solvents and paints are of some macabre polymer mixtures, cleansing agents are made out of wood soap and more of those very eco-polymers and surfactants, etc.

What annoys the * out of me is that all consumer products tend to be diluted to the extent they barely work. This is called business on the other hand, but the consumer ends up paying several hundred bucks per liter of some common cleansing agent. I'd rather buy 99% concentration of stuff and dilute it by the need than purchase already diluted crap. And this is the issue: people don't want to do anything themselves, they just want to buy everything ready as is.

There are exceptions, though. I once had an issue with toluene: at first I could not find it anywhere, then I found some diluted stuff that had about 25% of toluene - and then I found a 10 liter canister from hardware store that is basically a mixture of toluene and acetone in pure form, very easy to separate either the lazy way with water or the good way by distilling. All the other paint thinner products are made of some totally useless stuff.

About the general availability, I've indeed seen headlines about how could someone obtain something - oh well, it's sold in the hardware store by the canful but the trade name might not be the chemical name.
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teodor
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[*] posted on 7-11-2020 at 06:23


Quote: Originally posted by Fyndium  
There is this eco boom where everything must be 100% natural. There is a hardware/interior store chain that sells their own brand stuff and while it's not at all organic store stylish, all their products are riddled with something that is of organic origin and "free of any chemicals".


I would say that to check that something is free of hazardous chemicals one needs chemicals. To check that your soil is clean and good to grow what you want to grow you need chemicals. Relaying on brand, distribution network, devices made by somebody in china or where they were made but not on the self-evident knowledge is very dangerous tendency of society.
At the same time popularity of chemistry-related youtube channels is very big. Tell people how to test soil, how to test water, how to grow pure products with aquaponics and to do experiments with addition of different chemicals, minerals etc and observe the results.
So, I see no problem in this "biological" tendency for chemistry popularisation.


[Edited on 7-11-2020 by teodor]
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Texium
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[*] posted on 7-11-2020 at 08:20


Quote: Originally posted by teodor  
And 6. Why and when pure chemicals were stopped to use? I remember the time when every educated enough family in SU bought bare, pure chemicals for doing something like photography, gardening, household needs (still have several books with recipes of solution for things like change property of wood, cloth, destroying spots etc etc) and electronics & metalworking & art as well not to mention nice chemical demonstrations for children. And today we have no less application for chemicals than for electronic components. It is just something else.

The problem is that most people care only about convenience. If they need to remove rust from something, they buy rust remover. If they need to clean their toilet they buy toilet cleaner, while they use sink cleaner for their sink, even if these contain the same chemicals! If they need fertilizer for different types of plants, they’ll buy several different blends of fertilizer, even if these contain the same three ingredients just in different ratios, with varying levels of filler. If they need to refill their car’s coolant, they buy premixed 50/50 antifreeze and water. Auto shops don’t even sell fully concentrated antifreeze anymore, because people are too lazy to dilute it themselves, and they can make more money selling them water. One of my favorites is “Low Odor” HCl. It’s just 10% HCl instead of the usual 31% concentration that is sold at home improvement and pool stores. And guess what: the more dilute stuff costs twice as much! At some point companies realized that they could make a lot more money selling a single product for every use instead of a few raw chemicals or basic mixtures that could be used for many purposes.

I use many of my raw chemicals for household applications. Glacial acetic acid, diluted to 30%, to remove hard water deposits from faucets. Ethyl acetate to clean off sticky label residue from items (works better than commercial “Goo Gone” products and the like). Sulfuric acid to open clogged drains. Citric acid to clean the dishwasher. 27% hydrogen peroxide that I bought at a pool store to freshen laundry. Who cares that is says “pool shock” on the label? It’s much cheaper than Oxy Clean and does the same job!

The average person doesn’t think, doesn’t want to think, about how to solve a problem, they just want to be handed the solution to their problem.

Nonetheless, while many are a farce, there are some proprietary mixtures that do a better job than a single chemical. Companies did put a lot of R&D time and money into developing their formulas. CLR Calcium Lime and Rust cleaner, for instance, which is a proprietary blend of lactic acid, surfactants, and other chemicals, I’ve found to work much better than acid alone for cleaning hard water scale off of sinks and tubs. As chemists we can look at the SDS for various consumer products though, and make a judgment of whether it looks like a legitimately useful product, or if it’s something overpriced and easily replicated using chemicals that we already own.




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MadHatter
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[*] posted on 7-11-2020 at 10:01
Necessity


Necessity is the mother of invention or adaptation.
Sometimes what's readily available doesn't work
well or at all. That's where us chemists come in.
We'll adapt, find or make something.

I found that most OTC degreasers aren't worth a
shit. The answer: 5% NaOH solution. 200 grams
of Red Devil Lye in a gallon of H2O. Fumes are
obnoxious as hell but works like a champ.

I found that most roach killers don't do a very
good job until I ran across some cheapass Combat
trays and then NO more roaches.

Bed bugs were the most frustrating. Every person
I talked to said "Call an exterminator". I did. 2 visits
from them and $1500 later same problem. Time
for some research. Bed bugs and termites are in the
same family. A gallon of Ortho Home Defense spray.
It didn't list bed bugs but it did list termites. No more
bed bugs. This is an adaptation.

Sometimes people don't want to spend the extra
money it takes to solve a problem. I finally convinced
my father that Rooto sulfuric acid is 1 of the best
drain cleaners on the market despite costing more
than most. Still available at Ace Hardware for $12.97
+tax for a half gallon.

CHEMISTRY RULES ! :D

[Edited on 2020/11/7 by MadHatter]




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teodor
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[*] posted on 7-11-2020 at 10:46


Quote: Originally posted by Texium (zts16)  

The problem is that most people care only about convenience.


I totally agree with you (everything you wrote). But the same argument could be applied to the electronics components market. It seams people don't need supply of them anymore, especially not-surface mounted ones. You can buy everything you need designed and assembled, isn't it? Also, it is more cheap to buy new equipment than to repair the old one. You don't need discrete transistors anymore. Everything could be done inside some proprietary IC with standard power supply. You even don't need separate transformers not to say about copper wire and ferrite cores, standard power supplies are so cheap.
But strange, we still have a full supply of electronic components available.

Why radio amateurs ever exist today? Whether Internet is not available? Facebook, Twitter? Why some need to build antena to get signal?

Are photos of Hubble and other professional telescopes are not enough? Why ever people build private observatories? Why ever does this exist?

Also there is a full set of optical components available from, e.g. https://www.edmundoptics.com/ . They sell to individuals. How many individuals need discrete lenses and prisms? But people in Edmund seams know better. Every few months I get a full catalogue from them (the only one thing I bought several years ago was a camel brush for optics cleaning).

So, the universal argument "people don't need" doesn't work anymore especially when the population going to 8 billions. If somebody says "I need this" this is already argument. Growing population means growing demand even based on the same percentage of those who needs. Let's say it another way: some countries don't think well about their future in the global market. And these types of restrictions will pay back after several years.
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karlos³
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[*] posted on 7-11-2020 at 11:09


Roaches and bed bugs? :o
I like Tsjerk's synthesis of the bromo analogue of DDT, and even more if I read things like that.
Because, chemistry rules :)
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[*] posted on 4-12-2020 at 17:45


Fyndium,
Yet those same companies (e.g. target) load the shit they call all natural with CMIT/MIT chloro methyl isothiazolinone/methyl isothiazolinone Biocides which are known to cause conditions such as machinists dermatitis which was due to CMIT/MIT BIOCIDES in machining coolant! I had it until the EPA banned that coolant.
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densest
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[*] posted on 8-12-2020 at 14:14


I suggest reasons why chemicals are less and less available to the amateur or home-business chemist:

Fear. Schools teach less and less science. The less the general public understands about chemicals the greater the fear. That fear is fed by people with agendas not necessarily beneficial. Misinformation and disinformation is everywhere.

1) Laws. More and more restrictive laws are passed because of fear. The "war on drugs" has been a "war on individuals." Some companies have been able to outlaw other companies' products. Some laws do address real hazards but are usually very broadly written to cover too many cases.

In the US, at least, the legal system is a pervasive problem for vendors. Laws regulating chemicals are torturously complex, vary by locality, have severe penalties and are subject to arbitrary interpretation. It's very difficult if not impossible to observe all of them. Even if a vendor didn't break any laws the company can be shut down until the matter is resolved.

2) Liability lawsuits (at least in the US) can be enormously expensive even if the vendor is in no way responsible. They can put any but the largest/most influential company out of business. Insurers (very large $$$ companies) lobby for (1)

3) A widespread assumption that anyone not working for a large corporation is ignorant or, lately, malicious therefore dangerous.

4) Support costs. Corporate customers are assumed to be knowledgeable.

Large vendors of chemicals are not willing to take those risks.

That leads to:

On retail chemicals:

a) See above. Products become weaker and weaker or disappear entirely. The larger the company the less likely it will sell anything useful.

b) Companies make money from "convenience" packaged materials but not necessarily because of simple greed.

People often buy pre-packaged chemical mixtures because of "transaction cost". Modern life is very complex. For most people, the cost in time and effort to learn the details about chemicals, their hazards and their proper applications is far greater than the premium paid for the single-purpose product. Even chemists may not have time to research enough details to successfully compound something cheaper or better than the commercial product.

c) The continual turnover of "new compound X is less harmful or persistent than old compound Y" is sometimes actually justified. CH2Cl2 is disappearing - it's very useful but also quite toxic. It'll dissolve almost anything organic including the lipids in your cells...

Off topic: unrepairable goods - EU is trying to move the cost of vanishing landfills to manufacturers.
Off topic: electronics hackers: look up Arduino and Adafruit and Mouser Electronics and DigiKey. You may be amazed at how many toys and useful things available.

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Dr.Bob
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[*] posted on 8-12-2020 at 19:46


The key os that the companies that sell to individuals are mostly small LLCs or tiny companies, with few assets. So if they sell to someone who turns out to be a problem, any lawsuits are pointless, as they are not worth much, at least compared to Aldrich or Fisher. You notice, lots of people sue J & J, Monsanto/Bayer and big pharmas-how many people sue John Smith's one person company. Same way that people making meth rarely get fined by the EPA for their pollution or OSHA for unsafe work, as most don't have any money.
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draculic acid69
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[*] posted on 25-1-2021 at 23:22



Combination of fear of u.s.a. 3letter agencies and douchebaggery
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clearly_not_atara
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[*] posted on 26-1-2021 at 06:39


Quote: Originally posted by Cou  

Yeah if someone is just ordering some 1-pentanol, there's obviously nothing clandestine and drug-related they can do with that.

It's a precursor to MDPV, though. I would say this serves as a pretty good example of how difficult it can be to know what's a precursor :P




[Edited on 04-20-1969 by clearly_not_atara]
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zed
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[*] posted on 28-1-2021 at 01:28


Larger U.S. Chem houses, were always reluctant to sell to individuals. Well, perhaps not always, but they have been uninterested in supplying small accounts, for at least 50 years.

VWR and Aldrich have been more or less hostile, for ages. This is nothing new.

They were not especially friendly with the small college, I long ago worked for. Though our occasional orders, might have been for $10,000.00 or so, the scientific suppliers were not impressed... We were too small.

A short visit to the Aldrich website will show that they aren't especially interested in small sales. Prices for small quantities of reagents are very stiff indeed. Perhaps a hundred dollars per a single liter of solvent.

Buy a thousand bucks worth, however..... And, the price may drop to $10.00 per liter. A reasonable price, and in consonance with prices, I paid in the distant past.

At any rate, the problem of acquiring reagents is not new. In my locale, even in the heydays of home chemistry, there were only a few suppliers that welcomed amateur, or walk-in customers.

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[*] posted on 28-1-2021 at 08:42


this guys sell from sigma but this message is for a long time now...

https://referscientific.co.uk/
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[*] posted on 28-1-2021 at 18:08


Chemsavers are great for minor items. They can source nasty things from all over but you'll eat the double shipment. They used to have a supplier that would drop ship, but that went away a few years back.

Funny thing, I'll get Fisher or Sigma bottles from them too. I'm told that big chem houses are just big importers since most chemicals are produced outside the USA. Also the restrictions on residential addresses seems linked to the carriers. God bless DHL and the international suppliers, they'll bring me almost anything.




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[*] posted on 29-1-2021 at 05:29


Quote: Originally posted by roXefeller  
Chemsavers are great for minor items. They can source nasty things from all over but you'll eat the double shipment. They used to have a supplier that would drop ship, but that went away a few years back.

Funny thing, I'll get Fisher or Sigma bottles from them too. I'm told that big chem houses are just big importers since most chemicals are produced outside the USA. Also the restrictions on residential addresses seems linked to the carriers. God bless DHL and the international suppliers, they'll bring me almost anything.


Have you ever ordered anything physically dangerous (but legal) from overseas? Alibaba has some great prices and I have ordered a few innocuous chemicals from them with success. My biggest fear, however, is US Customs opening the package for inspection, as they sometimes do, and the package being mislabeled to trick customs, as the Alibaba sellers sometimes do, and then dealing with the fallout of some US Customs agent being poisoned by SOCl2 that was labeled as perfume (or something to that effect.)

[Edited on 1-29-2021 by monolithic]
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