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Author: Subject: Where to get Formaldehyde in Canada.
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[*] posted on 22-12-2021 at 09:55
Where to get Formaldehyde in Canada.


I've stowed away my chemistry equipment to focus on other things. But when I do return to chemistry in a year or so, I am thinking of performing some experiments that require formaldehyde (such as hexamine synthesis... stores are starting to remove that from their shelves where I live).

There aren't any pet supply stores that sell the 37% solution that I would require. I did see it for sale on eBay.ca but it would need to be imported into Canada. I never bought any chemicals that aren't OTC, and while I did check the list for chemicals of concern in Canada, I don't see formalehyde on that list. (you can find it here: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/explosives/resources/brochures/18389)

There are also online chemical suppliers that sell some. But again, I never bought stuff like that online. Is there any special paperwork I need to fill in?

Alternatively. I could buy potassium dichromate and try to synthesize formaldehyde as a challenge, but I am not sure how safe that is. dichromate is available on ebay as well, but I am not sure if buying any will draw attention to me as much as buying the formaldehyde.
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[*] posted on 22-12-2021 at 17:29


What region of Canada are you in. Give me a bit and I will have a few couple suggestions.
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[*] posted on 22-12-2021 at 17:47


At many places like Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire, Rona, CO-OP Hardware if you are in the west, you can find a product called Campa-Chem, it is dyed 37% formalin. I will attach pictures of the product.

Another place to check is a Farm and Garden Centre, Equestrian Care Centre, Live Stock Care Centre. In Saskatchewan we have a store called Earlys Farm and Garden Centre, they sell 4L jugs of 37% formalin for $28CAD.

There is also a Lab Supply Shop based out of Delta BC that sells all sorts of reagents and will supply hobby chemists. I have used them several times for many different reagents and they are very reliable. I usually receive my order within 3 days of shipping. If you are out east may take a day or 2 longer. They offer free shipping on orders over $100CAD
https://www.westlab.com/chemicals/chemicals/225-517y-formald...


Edit: Sorry I forgot you had mentioned you check and animal supply store


20211222_193030.jpg - 979kB 20211222_193047.jpg - 959kB

[Edited on 23-12-2021 by Syn the Sizer]
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[*] posted on 22-12-2021 at 17:47


I sent you a U2U.
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[*] posted on 22-12-2021 at 17:49


I heard of that CampaChem. I didn't know they sold it there. I will be on the look out for it when I go to shopping there.

Will it work as is for making hexamine? Or is some purification needed?

I live in Eastern Canada. They have some different stuff here. I noticed that Western Canada has more things available.

Edit: I looked up Canadian tire. They don't have that in their listings. Maybe I can still ask them if they have that in-store.

[Edited on 23-12-2021 by ManyInterests]
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[*] posted on 22-12-2021 at 17:59


For sure keep an eye out in the RV/Camping section. I believe none of the impurities should affect the hexamine synth, though I could be wrong about the dye.

But to be honest, here Campa-Chem was something like $13CADfor 946mL, from Westlab its is under $20CAD for 1000mL of 37% formalin, no dyes. Only catch is as mentioned shipping is only free over $100

Yes, I have heard too that Eastern Canada is getting more strict. To be honest, Saskatchewan is quite free.

I can but HNO3, H3PO4, 4L 29% H2O2, 4L 99% Isopropyl alcohol, 500mL of 99% DMSO, 4L of 37% formalin and more OTC in the local Garden Centre.

Toluene, Xylene, Acetone, MEK, HCl, and other stuff easily OTC at Canadian Tire, Hexamine at every Army Shop and Canadian Tire, there is more but I can't remember off hand. But believe it or not H2SO4 drain cleaner can no longer be easily found.

Syn'

[Edited on 23-12-2021 by Syn the Sizer]
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[*] posted on 22-12-2021 at 18:23


H2SO4 drain opener is actually quite readily available where I live. Albeit Home Depot stopped stocking it (I think) but Home Hardware and Canadian Tire, as well as Ronas do have them. Ro-tyme stopped making sulfuric acid drain opener, but I did manage to grab one last bottle before the stock ran out... it isn't very good. It is an absolute monster to purify.

I found a place that still has some bottles of old-style bottles of Albert brand drain opener (the ones with a picture of a plumber holding a plunger). It was very easy to purify. I might grab another one to make sure I have enough H2SO4 to basically last me forever. I can purify 900 ml out of 1000 ml. The most time consuming part is making enough 30/35% hydrogen peroxide to clean it up. I've become extremely adept at concentrating that amount from pharmacy grade 3% H2O2, but it takes around 16 hours or so to evaporate the water to get a yield of around 50ml from 1100ml to start.

The complements brand of hydrogen peroxide is super cheap, so I use it for that purpose.

Toluene is not super easy for me to find. I would need to put a special order for it with Home Hardware in order to get a bottle of that stuff. But Xylene, acetone, MEK, and HCl are still easily available and are everywhere.

The camping store MEC apparently no longer carries the Esbit tablets. I did go to an army surplus store where they did sell it, but I opted for a generic brand. I confirmed that it has hexamine and it is much cheaper.
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[*] posted on 22-12-2021 at 18:39


Also when I said I went to pet supply stores. I mean I went to the major chains in my city. I didn't go into the countryside or the outskirts where they sell more specialized stuff. The pet stores here are generally for the smaller pets (fish, birds, cats, dogs, rodents, ferrets, etc).
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[*] posted on 22-12-2021 at 18:43


In the end, I came to the conclusion that I prefer to spend the extra for pure 95% ACS grade H2SO4 from Westlab, I had bought some of the drain cleaner for certain tasks where I was fine not purifying but I hate purifying H2SO4, I don't even recycle it like some people, can't be bothered, more hassle then it is worth for me.

But not everybody is willing to drop the extra for the higher grade stuff and I totally understand resorting to purifying.

I haven't done any calculations, but it seems to me that the extra reagents needed to purify it with high % H2O2 and heat neaded to really drive the reaction, the dangers of the produced Caros Acid, it was worth it for me to spend $27CAD for 500mL or $86.50CAD for 2500mL.

https://www.westlab.com/chemicals/chemicals/225-0298y-sulfur...
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[*] posted on 22-12-2021 at 19:14


Oh wow. Yeah I'll stick with the weeklong process to make enough H2O2 to purify everything. 86 bucks? Sorry, I am not dishing out that amount of cash.

I have around 100ml or slightly less of very clean, very concentrated H2SO4 (after boiling it as long as I did. I seriously doubt it is anything less than the 98% azeotrope. I didn't take a specific gravity measurement. But the stuff has a very oily, very syrupy consistency. It is most certainly strong enough for all my nitration work and all other work requiring sulfuric acid).

Edit: The heat thing you mentioned is why I opted to get a heating mantle instead of a hotplate. Mantle's are very efficient and it only takes my mantle around 25 minutes or so (maybe a minute or two longer) to get sulfuric acid boiling.

[Edited on 23-12-2021 by ManyInterests]
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[*] posted on 22-12-2021 at 19:41


I don't mind paying that for the ease of use. Tbh, I buy most of my reagents, even the OTC ones aside from solvents.

Is it possible for you to calculate the cost for me of purifying 2500mL of H2SO4?

That is the cost of buying the drain cleaner, the cost of buying enough peroxide, the cost of electricity used to concentrate the H2O2 and the kWh as your electricty is super cheap compared to us, we are the highest in the country, as well as the electricity used to boil the acid H2O2 acid mixture, and the time it takes to run the whole process for 2500mL so I can factor in my labour. I consider my time at $20CAD when it comes to purification of OTC reagents as it takes away from my actual chem time and that is the wage I charge my dad for helping him with his side jobs.

I am quite anal when I factor costs of reagents. The way I see it is $86 is basically 4hours of my time, but in that cost I factor my 1500W kitchen hotplate which in 4hrs would use 6000Wh at $0.18CAD per kWh, that works to ($20*4hrs)+(0.18*4hrs)= $80.72CAD, that is not factoring reagent costs, even using my OTC 29% H2O2 and drain cleaner acid, it would come to more then $86 to make 2.5L as well as I am thinking it would be a longer process then 4hrs for that volume of acid.

That is how I justify paying those prices.
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[*] posted on 22-12-2021 at 19:43


TBH, all in all, I truly feel my wages are worth closer to $30CAD, but I charge my dad less to help him out and factor low for purification.
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[*] posted on 22-12-2021 at 21:26


Yeah... I didn't think about the electricity cost at all. My bill is generally very low. I even wanted to try to use the Birkeland–Eyde process using stun-gun modules, my small air pump (palm-sized 12v thing), 1 liter 3-necked boiling flask (and obviously a receiving beaker filled with H2O2 or water) in order to try to make nitric acid without the need to buy nitrates. I know it's an expensive and time-consuming process. But if they ever decide to pull all calcium-ammonium nitrate cold packs, it might be the only way I can get any nitrates.

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[*] posted on 22-12-2021 at 21:47


I believe you have some of the cheapest electricity in the country, but I hear other things are more expensive.

Fortunately here we can buy calcium ammonium nitrate packs at the garden centre as tomato fertilizer, 3lbs for $4.99CAD, but they also sell KNO3 in 10kg bags as well. After I found tha tout, I wished I had asked before buying the CAN lol. I can upload a photo is you want to see it.

[Edited on 23-12-2021 by Syn the Sizer]
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[*] posted on 22-12-2021 at 22:24


I agree with you Syn, on buying the sulfuric acid. Even if it is more expensive, you're not just buying the reagent, you're buying time that you can use to do chemistry that's more enjoyable and fruitful than tediously boiling acid all day long. Though also... here in the US, that amount of money could get me many liters of 98% tech grade that's sufficiently pure for all home chem uses :D

https://www.dudadiesel.com/search.php?query=sulfuric

I checked, and sadly, it appears that they do not ship to Canada, though you might double check to be sure. If you aren't too far from the US border, you could consider getting a US PO box in a border town to order stuff to. If you order chemicals often, it could easily be worth your money. I knew a forum member several years ago who lived near the border with Vermont and managed to acquire a lot of stuff that way.




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[*] posted on 23-12-2021 at 14:36


Well if buying chemicals online like this is as simple as buying things off amazon then I might as well buy what I need online instead of going through the painstaking process of making it. Except for the sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide. I already have the ingredients needed, and by the time the stuff ships to me I would already have what I need. But stuff like formaldehyde and/or dangerous to make, so might as well just buy it if there is little to no regulations to worry about.

The chemical regulations in Europe got me mildly antsy about the future of home chemistry, so I figured I should learn to make the things from scratch so I would always have access to them if I wanted them.

I also do enjoy the challenge of making things from scratch. There's something special about being able to get unrelated stuff in a store or in day-to-day life and make something completely different out of it.
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[*] posted on 24-12-2021 at 13:45


thetford, the company that made campa-chem is no longer producing the formaldehyde version from what I can tell.
you may be able to find some old stock but it looks like it is being phased out.

there are various mildewcides that are paraformaldehyde.
and there is aqua-kem, but you can't get that in california and I doubt it is available in canada.

If you need formaldehyde you are probably going to need to do it the way the plants do it and run methanol vapor of copper scrubbers heated to 400C.
I know of several sources that sell the mildewcide but that is US only and some states like california ban its use.
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[*] posted on 24-12-2021 at 17:03


Yah, I had tried a DudaDiesel order one time and unfortunately no luck.
However on a similar note to Texiums point of getting a US PO Box, there are services out there that give you an American delivery point to order from such companies, then forward them to your US address.
I heard story once, where I cannot remember where so have no links to the story. But it was claimed that the US shipping to the mock address, plus forwarding fee from the forwarding company to forward it to Canada was cheaper then the selling companies shipping to the same address in Canada.

Quote: Originally posted by macckone  
thetford, the company that made campa-chem is no longer producing the formaldehyde version from what I can tell.
you may be able to find some old stock but it looks like it is being phased out.


Damn, that's unfortunate, won't affect me as I have a local OTC source for 4L of 37% formaldehyde, but for others it sucks.
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[*] posted on 24-12-2021 at 20:01


I sorta figured it might be phased out... but at any rate, I do have another reagent acquisition question... obtaining elemental mercury. I thought of making a little mercury fulminate (which is surprising for me to think, given the trouble I went through to make NHN!)

I remember reading on this forum that mercury switches still contain actual mercury in Canada. Specifically I am looking at this item.

https://amzn.to/3qlCzDr

I know these would contain very small quantities of mercury and probably buying a pack of 50 would be more practical... but when it comes to something as toxic as mercury and something as sensitive as mercury fulminate, I think I am OK with only having enough for one or two synthesis (around 1ml of mercury at at time).

If they do contain mercury, do you have any experience with these? And how much mercury they contain per switch?

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[*] posted on 24-12-2021 at 20:57


It depends on the size of the tilt switch.
It is a single globule.
The volume is pretty low, maybe 0.15 ml but back when I had a few they were at least 2 grams.
Mercury is very heavy.
I assume the volume could be larger or smaller depending on the size.

Mercury contactors have a lot more mercury but they cost more.
This is a small cheap one but they go up to really high amperages (150+Amps of three phase)
https://www.wolfautomation.com/mercury-relay-1-pole-35a-no-1...
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[*] posted on 24-12-2021 at 21:40


If one of them has 0.15 or even 0.1ml than I think that is fine. While tilt switches make for nice electrical projects. I'm obviously far more interested in cracking them open for their mercury content than using them as is. If I need tilt switches I'm actually more apt to use non-mercury tilt switches.
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[*] posted on 27-12-2021 at 02:10


Paraformaldehyde can be dissolved into formaldehyde at 60C by mixing in a gram or two of NaOH with good stirring. It will dissolve eventually. PFA has the benefit of being solid and occupying 0.37 of the volume of formaldehyde solution.

If you wanna go hardcore, get POM plastic and reflux it in phosphoric or sulfuric acid. It will decompose into formaldehyde, which you can absorb into water.

Chinese mercury switches are small, but if you only need a gram or two they can come handy. I haven't measured, but from perhaps 20 of them a gram or two can be extracted. A single larger tilt switch can easily contain mercury worth 50 of those.

[Edited on 27-12-2021 by Fyndium]
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[*] posted on 27-12-2021 at 16:06


Yes, I am only looking for a very small quantities of mercury to make mercury fulminate. I am extremely aware of how sensitive this energetic is and I do not plan on making anything beyond 1 gram at a time. If 20 of the switches will yield the 1 gram of mercury I need then a batch of 50 will be all I need for experimentation purposes.

The POM method you mentioned sounds interesting. Is POM Polyoxymethylene? I never heard of it before. What are some sources of it? Can you provide links to where I can buy some like aliexpress or amazon?

In terms of refluxing, how much sulfuric acid would I need in proportion to POM (I have no access to phosphoric acid, but sulfuric is readily available). What temperature and for how long in order to decompose it to formaldehyde? When absorbing it to water, how much water is needed?

The only reflux I have experience with is making nickel nitrate. I used a fairly long Allihn column which I connected a 100 ml boiling flask that was submerged in a 1000ml beaker full of boiling tap water. After which I boiled on its own (no water bath) to complete dryness and dissolved the rock-hard nickle nitrate by pouring distilled water into it, swirling the beaker and pouring the subsequent solution into an erlenmeyer flask. Is the process similar? If not, what is the process?

[Edited on 28-12-2021 by ManyInterests]
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[*] posted on 28-12-2021 at 01:48


I have a full 30 kg can sitting idle if only there was a way to send u there but I don't think so there is any
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[*] posted on 3-1-2022 at 01:59


Quote: Originally posted by ManyInterests  
The POM method you mentioned sounds interesting. Is POM Polyoxymethylene? I never heard of it before. What are some sources of it? Can you provide links to where I can buy some like aliexpress or amazon?

In terms of refluxing, how much sulfuric acid would I need in proportion to POM (I have no access to phosphoric acid, but sulfuric is readily available). What temperature and for how long in order to decompose it to formaldehyde? When absorbing it to water, how much water is needed?


I did a test, I cooked a POM keck clip(one that was snapped and were going to bin anyway) and it generated noticeable formaldehyde odor when boiled. I'm not sure about efficiency of this reaction in the long run, but at least conceptually it should be possible.

POM is just what you said. It's all the same basically. I suggest buying it from plastic suppliers, it comes around 10$/kg in bar stock, get such sized bar that you can hack it into pieces to fit in your reaction vessels. I bought 60mm bar stock for machining some items from it, and I got the idea for this from the swarf and chips I got from it. POM is hard af, you may just use bolt cutters or even an axe to split it into pieces for this purpose. The more surface area you get the better, though, so turning it into swarf with mill or lathe may not be a bad idea. The swarf occupies huge volume though, you can merely fit 50 grams in 1L flask when you stuff it with wooden rod.

It should also decompose by simply heating it to pyrolysis temperature, but that mess and gunk it makes.. The 1L rbf I tried it in, went to bin as whole, because the solidified block of partially molten plastic was not worth using days of reflux for 5$ flask.

Reflux is reflux. You might wanna use some other heating bath, like CaCl2 water. It goes up to 150C with ease and has much higher thermal conductivity than oil, and does not burn.
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