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Author: Subject: The state of DIY analysis/characterization

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[*] posted on 21-10-2016 at 02:35
The state of DIY analysis/characterization

Could anyone help me begin looking into methods of at-home analytical chemistry and compound characterization? I am not one to normally ask to be spoon-fed information, and I enjoy researching things. My trouble is determining the direction to begin searching. Besides melting point, solubility, TLC, and perhaps refractometry, what are the most feasible (economically and practically) methods of analysis and compound characterization? I am assuming that it is some type of spectroscopy, and if so, which type is the most within reach of the homebuilt lab? I have seen cheap spectrometers (UV-vis, IR) for 2K and less, and there are numerous second-hand machines on eBay, but I have no idea how possible it would be for someone with no real lab experience to succesfu!ly operate and utilize one of them. Thanks for any input or advice, I appreciate it.
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International Hazard

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[*] posted on 22-10-2016 at 09:34

To shorten the odd on providing you with useful advise it would help if you gave us a bit more information. Are you for instance primarily interested in organic or inorganic compounds? Be careful with buying complex spectrographic equipment on ebay unless you know a lot about the specific instrument because it is likely to require some serious repair work or may have bit missing that will cost a hundred times what you paid for the machine. My experience is that most of the older type machine are very tempramental.

I would stick with melting point, tlc or paper chromatography and possibly refractometry since you can buy a good refractometer for under $500. Melting point equipment is easily tested, standardized and the equipment is reasonably cheap.

Classical qualitative organic analysis can also help and is cheap though it does require a large variety of chemical but most fairly simple one. Books from the 1950-1970 period are the best as after that period they tend to be heavily dependant on instruments but these book are available from amazon for peanuts!

You could always build you own instrument! At least if you build it you know how to take it apart/repair it! :D
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Forum Drunkard

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[*] posted on 22-10-2016 at 10:45

It really does depend entirely on what substances you wish to detect/analyse.

From what you've said, it sounds like OC, so that narrows it down some.

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International Hazard

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[*] posted on 22-10-2016 at 12:45

As others have said, what would be useful to you depends on what you want to do. However, UV-Vis and IR spectrometers are not difficult to operate at all. The interpretation of spectra is more difficult than operating the instruments, but no more so than other aspects of chemistry.
Also, even within one technique, you can dig deep or only scratch the surface of the possibilities depending on your analytical needs. You can use IR to gain information on the structure of an unknown compound, which requires you to understand spectra in detail. On the other hand, if you just want to confirm the identity of a compound by comparing its spectrum against a reference, that is very simple to do and requires only a very basic understanding of IR spectra.
Things like GC or HPLC are more tricky and require significantly more experience to use.

"If a rocket goes up, who cares where it comes down, that's not my concern said Wernher von Braun" - Tom Lehrer
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