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LaBoom
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smile.gif posted on 7-5-2018 at 16:13
lab set-up


Hello everyone. Very newbie here.

I am wanting to build my own home chemistry laboratory for educational purposes(because I never ever took grade 12 chemistry in high school, and now regret it).
I originally had an interest in chemical reactions when I found my dad's "home made stuff" while cleaning out his house before he moved into a seniors home. there was too many bottles of various liquids that didn't have any MSDS or WHMIS labels but were merely marker writing on masking tape for what purpose they were intended for.
Since I found that stuff, I have been trying to educate myself somewhat (a lot via youtube classroom education channels) so rather than throw my dad's bottles of misc. miracle potions out, I could better understand what the heck he was up to, and how I could create more.

I am pursuing in setting up a home lab to help with my experiments/synthesis but I am requesting the help from more experienced users in what I should actually buy, and the quality of the lab equipment to ascertain.

I have basic lab-equipment knowledge. Bora Silicate is a better type of glass than regular glass etc. but if anyone could tell me if the kits you can buy through amazon or online vendors are a waste of $$ or not, would be very useful. I live in Canada, so some of the items sold in the U.S. are not available to be shipped here.

thnx in advance.

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[*] posted on 7-5-2018 at 16:52


Welcome to SM.
No time for a detailed discussion just at the moment but I am sure that others will be by to help.
Do you have a clear idea of what kind of chemistry you might be interested in? That has a great bearing on what the best equipment will be.

You can look up j_sum1 on youtube and find in my profile about 50 useful chemistry channels that you might find helpful.




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[*] posted on 7-5-2018 at 17:17


It would be extremely helpful to take a chemistry class.

That being said, protect yourself at all times. Gloves, eyes, face, protection. Wear protective non-flammable clothing (heavy cotton is better than most things).

https://www.harborfreight.com/adjustable-face-shield-46526.h...

If possible, construct a fume hood. An emergency shower is also nice. Also, a fire extinguisher. And, buy a respirator.

Many of us buy and use Chinese Glassware Products, but warily. Some are great, others not so much. E-bay seller Deschem, seems to be reasonably priced, reputable, and often with quick delivery times.

Ah, back to basic safety. Worth a watch!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRWRmIEHr3A



[Edited on 8-5-2018 by zed]

[Edited on 8-5-2018 by zed]

[Edited on 8-5-2018 by zed]
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ninhydric1
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[*] posted on 7-5-2018 at 17:21


From woelen's website:

http://woelen.homescience.net/science/chem/misc/homelab.html




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DavidJR
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[*] posted on 7-5-2018 at 17:52


A lab coat is a good buy. I don't wear mine all the time, but I will if I'm working with anything more hazardous or messy.

Quote: Originally posted by zed  

And, buy a respirator.

Can't agree more. They aren't too expensive but they are WELL worth it.

Mine is 3M brand: 6200M half face mask (full face would be better but costs more), plus the ABEK1 filters (3M part no 6059). The ABEK1 filters are pretty good for general lab use I've found. If you want particulate protection as well, then you need a couple of plastic clip thingies (3M part no 501) as well as the actual filter pads (for P3, part no 5935). Total cost for all that was around £35.

Quote: Originally posted by zed  

Many of us buy and use Chinese Glassware Products, but warily. Some are great, others not so much. E-bay seller Deschem, seems to be reasonably priced, reputable, and often with quick delivery times.

+1 for deschem, most of my joined glassware is from them. It's not the absolute best quality stuff, certainly... but it's usable and great value for money. Deschem also have a store on Aliexpress, which I order from, since they don't sell on UK eBay. Their shipping is pretty fast in my experience.

In general with cheap glassware from China, there may be imperfections like bubbles in the glass etc which may weaken it. Also, I've had some cases where the joints aren't perfectly accurately ground - never to the extent that it's unusable though. I recently bought some glassware from a UK manufacturer, SGL, and the joints were noticeably better quality.

Second hand (old) Pyrex Quickfit brand glassware seems to be quite common on eBay (UK, anyway) too.




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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 02:39


On deck and abe to answer.

One of the great things about chem as a hobby is that you don't actually need to spend a whole lot of money. You can do a lot with some simple containers and a good set of eyes. You don't even need borosilicate unless you are heating stuff.

I strongly recommend building your lab a little at a time and buy what you need for each project that you do. That way you will stock stuff that you use. You will not spend too much at once. You will get a feel for what kind of size and quality you need for your purposes. And you will not fall into the error of spending big on stuff that you don't use: if you make an unwise purchase or two then it is only a small amount.

So, in rough order of importance...

Safety gear
Lab glasses, gloves, fire blanket, fire extinguisher, lab coat, respirator, fume cupboard
You can build this up slowly over time if you need to but be careful to not extend yourself. You will get away without a fire extinguisher if all you are doing is aqueous chemistry in test tubes. You might do without a respirator for a while too -- but don't be tempted to do experiments for which you lack adequate protection. And don't skimp on safety gear thinking you will save money.

Lab journal
Work out how you best want to record your work. I go for a hand-written notebook.

Heating
Many possibilities exist. Bunsen burners are classic. Butane torches, MAP torches, hotplates, hotplate-stirrers, mantles, furnaces, hot-air guns and upturned irons. I would recommend you get either a mantle or a hotplate stirrer as a matter of priority. And again, don't short-cut quality.

Measuring equipment
Thermometer(s), pH paper, graduated cylinders, scales (cheap jewellers' scales are great!), volumetric flasks, volumetric pipettes, burette

Stuff to hold and organise things
Retort stand and clamps, test tube stands, containers (and labels) for your reagents and products, shelf storage, bottles, jars, vials -- you can upgrade some of these later. Think about what you will do with waste. Plastic buckets can be very useful for many things.

Miscellaneous stuff that does not cost much but you really should not be without
spatulas/scoops, funnels, filter paper, weighing dishes (cupcake papers can be excellent), glass rods for stirring, brushes for cleaning glassware etc. Bowl/dishes for water bath/oil bath/icebath. Wash-cloths for cleaning up after yourself. Paper towels.

Glassware
Build this up over time. Bear in mind that you wil break some. You will also find your favourite sizes for things.
Beakers -- assorted sizes. You can do a lot of good chemistry using just beakers or even jars if you avoid heating.
Test tubes -- buy in bulk. Uniform size is good.

Ground glass distillation and reflux rig. Match to the scale of reactions that you do and your heating source. Be prepared to spend a little here.
Once you have decided on your ground glass, you will need various flasks -- round bottom, flat bottom and erlenmeyers. Get plenty of keck clips too. Get at least one three neck flask.


After you get going you will want
Vacuum pump, vacuum flask and bushner funnel
DC power supply
Separator funnels
Addition funnel
Additional glassware for more complex configurations -- adapters, drying tubes, gas traps/suck-back traps etc. It is not expensive and can be fun to order useful bits piecemeal from eBay.


I am certain that I have missed lots of things. But if you build up slowly as you tackle new projects then you will quickly figure things out -- especially if you are watching some good experimental videos and taking note of what they use.
A lot of things can be bought cheaply from standard retailers. Some is cheap online. Some stuff is more expensive and in many cases work-arounds exist but they may be grossly inferior. (Thinking of hotplate-stirrers in particular, but also my first attempt at a home-made liebig condenser.)

Hope this helps.
J.




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XeonTheMGPony
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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 03:56


I'll add never wear clothing you want to keep good in the lab, I am fairly precise in not spilling things and splashing things, yet most my shirts have nice acid burns on them (Doesn't help I do lot of stuff with big lead acid batteries).

As stated safety can not be under stressed. have at least a 5pound ABC rated extinguisher, and if at all possible a CO2 gas one as the ABC contains 2 reactive components towards strong basses that will release ammonia.

I prefer Halon, but the new substitutes work well, you can search them under "Clean Agents" they are usually heavily flourinated hydrocarbons so very non reactive to any thing you'd have on the lab bench
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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 04:23


Hello and welcome.

Quote: Originally posted by LaBoom  
...
I am pursuing in setting up a home lab to help with my experiments/synthesis but I am requesting the help from more experienced users in what I should actually buy, and the quality of the lab equipment to ascertain.
...


Hobby chemistry can vary from negligible to irresponsible costs,
and your intentions are not quite clear to me,
- do you want to learn chemistry in general, or specifically related to your father's magic potions ?

I suggest that you persue the understanding of your father's potions
because that would be a focused activity,
as I find learning in order to achieve a goal easier than abstract learning.

For general chemistry learning, it sounds odd, but I recommend a used "chemistry set" via eBay,
for a very small cost you get small test tubes, test tube rack, flask, spirit lamp and chemicals and miscellaneous stuff.
Although I now have lots of beautiful ground joint glassware,
I still use the test tubes and rack, spirit lamp and even a few of the chemicals.

Glassware :
I used to recommend the cheap Chinese glass - perfectly adequate for all normal requirements,
but I'm moving to the opinion that it is worth buying brand names such as Duran, Pyrex, Kimble etc.
This is because contrary to my initial assumptions, glass is not the most expensive part of a glassware setup,
we also need heating, stiring, cooling, clamps & stands, pumps .......
So now that I have stuck with this hobby for four years I am finally considering spending a little extra for quality,
but unless you have loads of spare cash, I recommend used or Chinese glassware as a start.
One piece of advice that I ignored was to
'only buy what you have already planned to use'
+ I have lots of shiny (some unused) glassware and loads of chemicals (some unused)
- I have spent a little more than the minimum required
... so what ! ... It's my hobby :D

I believe that your first purchase should be a comfortable pair of safety goggles/glasses, mine are made to prescription,
or a face shield.
I consider full or partial blindness the greatest risk to amateur chemists.
(unless you are into energetics or toxins)

Because I live in the suburbs I must not release significant quantities of noxious or toxic fumes,
so to me,
buying a gas mask is just admitting that your preparations are inadequate (unless you own a large isolated property).
A fume hood/cupboard in an apartment building or in the suburbs just removes 'nasties' from the fume hood to pass it on to your neighbours,
neither wise nor neighbourly.

I definitely recommend keeping a log book - I like a hard back book,
others prefer an IT solution.
If nothing else it helps when trying to remember what that stuff in the flask is :P
========================================
If you do a reasonable amount of your own research and then when you get stuck ask a question here on SM,
(preferably with sufficient information and a link to something relevant)
you will find plenty of help and guidance here.
If you want to be spoon-fed, asking questions that have been answered many times here,
depending upon members moods, you may get a tirade of UTFSE comments, or worse.
A good way to search here is to use Google and search for

site:sciencemadness.org (put your search terms here)

============================================
I do not know the political climate in Canada,
but here in UK hobby chemists seem to be a suppressed minority.
I have told my immediate neighbours of my chemistry hobby so that when they see me doing 'weird' stuff,
or they get the occasional whiff of an unknown substance, they do not worry too much.
(they were definitely not keen or supportive on this issue, but they tolerate me and my hobbies)
Otherwise I would probably hide my hobby - not because I am doing wrong,
but because I do not want any unnecessary bother.

[Edited on 8-5-2018 by Sulaiman]




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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 05:33


Quote: Originally posted by Sulaiman  

Because I live in the suburbs I must not release significant quantities of noxious or toxic fumes,
so to me, buying a gas mask is just admitting that your preparations are inadequate (unless you own a large isolated property).
A fume hood/cupboard in an apartment building or in the suburbs just removes 'nasties' from the fume hood to pass it on to your neighbours, neither wise nor neighbourly.


I disagree- dilution is key. It's entirely possible to do something which would create a hazardous atmosphere in the confined space of your lab, without posing a risk/nuisance to neighbours if you open the window for ventilation. Of course you must still avoid producing excessively large quantities of toxic gases - but I don't think having a respirator means you're automatically a nuisance to the neighbours.




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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 10:34


Ebay is in my experience the best place to purchase most glassware. I recommend purchasing:

250 ml beakers (2 or 3)
100ml beaker
600ml beaker

100ml flask
250ml flask

Crystallizing dishes (2 to 4)

stoppers for the flasks with wholes
glass and rubber tubing

I also recommend buying a 50 dollar 24/40 ground glass distillation kit. With it you can prepare mineral acids and purify OTC solvents.

For measurement purchase a thermometer, scale, and 100 ml graduated cylinder.




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wink.gif posted on 8-5-2018 at 11:36


thanks so much for all the advice and wisdom thus far.

Sorry, i do not understand how to use the quoting system like other users here, so until I educate myself with that, I will just reply generally speaking to all of you.

As one user put it, I was originally anticipating replicating my dad's potions, thinking it would be just as simple as mixing a couple chemicals etc, but after researching some of the stuff he has previously made, I am getting enthused about learning chemistry on the whole.

I can give a few examples of liquids/materials he has made based on their purpose:

1. a glass container with some toxic smelling jelly-like goo that is for use of removing zinc coating off of steel pipes (like de-galvanizing steel).
2. a glass container with a fairly clear liquid that burns my nose hairs out, and is used for etching metal.
3. a sealed glass bottle with a burgandy colored gas/fluid that says for use of determining purity of gold metal.
4. a glass container with a white powdery(almost granular like sand) material that says for mixing with sulfur and wood ash to make rocket engines. (he had made us kids rocket engines for our rockets in our teen years)
5. a glass container with very similar looking white powder as #4, but its label says for killing tree roots.
6. a sealed plastic jug with Muriatic Acid For Stone Driveway.
7. 3 jugs of various (I think) clear fluids that are labelled poison #1, 2, and 3. I have no idea what this stuff is, and would like to discard it, but don't know how to do that safely.
8. and many mason jars filled with different types of powder/granules. 1 is Ammonium Nitrate, as the NPK is 34-0-0. but other materials are simply labelled in his special "coding" system. I believe they are mostly different forms of potash.
I have absolutely no idea why he had compressed tanks of oxygen, helium, and propane also.

I have tried to find similar looking substances online, cross-referencing various properties such as looks, smell, and relations to the known substances that were in his workshop, but this is all new to me. I hate to just throw the stuff away because i do not know if some will react with others given proximity etc.

All these findings have jacked up my enthusiasm to learn about chemistry in general. If I could comprehend his creations better, then I would gain some knowledge, and respect for his projects.

I hope this helps.
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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 12:24


1. No idea.
2. No idea.
3. HNO3
4. KNO3
5. KNO3
6. HCl
7. No idea.
8. Stuff.
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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 12:32


Quote: Originally posted by LaBoom  
thanks so much for all the advice and wisdom thus far.

Sorry, i do not understand how to use the quoting system like other users here, so until I educate myself with that, I will just reply generally speaking to all of you.

As one user put it, I was originally anticipating replicating my dad's potions, thinking it would be just as simple as mixing a couple chemicals etc, but after researching some of the stuff he has previously made, I am getting enthused about learning chemistry on the whole.

I can give a few examples of liquids/materials he has made based on their purpose:

1. a glass container with some toxic smelling jelly-like goo that is for use of removing zinc coating off of steel pipes (like de-galvanizing steel).
2. a glass container with a fairly clear liquid that burns my nose hairs out, and is used for etching metal.
3. a sealed glass bottle with a burgandy colored gas/fluid that says for use of determining purity of gold metal.
4. a glass container with a white powdery(almost granular like sand) material that says for mixing with sulfur and wood ash to make rocket engines. (he had made us kids rocket engines for our rockets in our teen years)
5. a glass container with very similar looking white powder as #4, but its label says for killing tree roots.
6. a sealed plastic jug with Muriatic Acid For Stone Driveway.
7. 3 jugs of various (I think) clear fluids that are labelled poison #1, 2, and 3. I have no idea what this stuff is, and would like to discard it, but don't know how to do that safely.
8. and many mason jars filled with different types of powder/granules. 1 is Ammonium Nitrate, as the NPK is 34-0-0. but other materials are simply labelled in his special "coding" system. I believe they are mostly different forms of potash.
I have absolutely no idea why he had compressed tanks of oxygen, helium, and propane also.

I have tried to find similar looking substances online, cross-referencing various properties such as looks, smell, and relations to the known substances that were in his workshop, but this is all new to me. I hate to just throw the stuff away because i do not know if some will react with others given proximity etc.

All these findings have jacked up my enthusiasm to learn about chemistry in general. If I could comprehend his creations better, then I would gain some knowledge, and respect for his projects.

I hope this helps.


y dun u just ask him directly??




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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 16:24


Since you don't seem to have any chemistry background, I STRONGLY advise that you get an introductory college chemistry textbook and start reading. You'll learn a lot about the basics; enough to start making sense of what you might want/need to learn next. It doesn't have to be a current edition; a slightly older version of a textbook can be had for next to nothing since they aren't used in classes any more.

If basic chemistry holds your interest, the next topic is usually organic chemistry. Again, a used college textbook is a great place to start. Youtube videos are fun, but they rarely explain the details/bigger picture.

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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 16:38


Khan Academy has good free video lectures covering general and organic chemistry.



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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 16:44


I learned chemistry in school in the '60's then started again four years ago,
even with the school (UK A-Level) knowledge, the learning curve seems like a brick wall sometimes.
There is the SM library http://library.sciencemadness.org/library/index.html
with some nice introductory stuff.




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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 16:48


As far as getting a good grip on the basics, I doubt you can get much better than https://www.chemguide.co.uk/
I would highly recommend it. (Thanks blogfast for putting me on to this.)




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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 17:41


I agree about getting any old chemistry textbooks
that you can find. They are very inexpensive such
as 50 cents or so. They can be found at thrift stores
and sometimes a local library will have them for
sale for as low as 10 cents.




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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 21:16


Nothing will beat the quality of a formal education in terms of chemistry safety. If you want to do chemistry at home you would be best to learn it at school first. If you don't do that then at least post your experiment plans with schematics on a chemistry forum where people with training can have a look at it before you do it. During most reactions some sort of gas or vapour is evolved make sure you know what it is and how to deal with it.
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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 21:44


Quote: Originally posted by Rogueasset  
During most reactions some sort of gas or vapour is evolved

This is clearly nonsense. There are plenty of reactions where no vapour is released. And plenty more where gases evolved are non-injurious to health.

And quite frankly, text-book knowledge of the kind that is often encountered in school or college courses is seldom adequate to anticipate the hazards that may arise when doing practical experimentation.

There is no substitute for knowing the principles that underlie chemical reactions. Education is clearly important.

Likewise there is no substitute for developing a set of practical skills and becoming familiar with the properties of classes of chemical compounds. If there is one thing that I have learned from this site it is that good chemists have intimate knowledge of the substances they are handling. The chemicals are friends. Knowing that toluene forms an azeotrope with water, knowing that DCM boils below 40C, knowing that sodium carbonate forms a monohydrate, a heptahydrate and a decahydrate, knowing that calcium sulfate has a solubility of around 0.5g/100mL and that barium sulfate is orders of magnitude less soluble -- these kind of things are useful facts that are generally not found in teaching texts but form the basis of good procedure design.

In short, you need both kinds of knowledge. And by the sounds of your OP you desire both kinds of knowledge -- hence your good question about appropriate stocking of a lab.
There is a lot of good advice given on setting up a lab. Likewise there are some good suggestions on how to develop a good theoretical base. And if you stick around here for long enough and augment that with some careful experiments of your own, you will soon build up the practical knowledge you desire.

One final bit of advice -- if you are uncertain of an outcome -- or if you are working with unknown reagents (such as your Dad's bottles), then work small scale at first and act very conservatively with respect to safety gear. You can discover a lot working at sub-gram scales using test tubes. Work systematically. Knowing the pH of an unknown or knowing whether it is miscible with water (to name two examples) can save you a whole lot of grief later on.




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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 22:02


thanks weilawei.

fusso, that would be great but he has dimentia in the 4th stage. if you want to try to talk to him and make sense of it, by all mean, please go ahead. I can set it up for you.

Reboot. thanks so much. this is the route i will take. I went today to a sale from a public library of old books. found a couple that seem easy enough to understand. Had originally hoped for a book of the "For Dummies" collection, but I think I am asking too much. haha.

DavidJR, I have been using the Eric Pantano series thus far on youtube as a guide to how to follow educating myself. I figure he must be a high school teacher that uses youtube as his instruction for his student body of the school he teaches at.

Sulaiman. thanks for the link. will def check it out.

j_sum1. again, thanks for the link. will check it out also.

sodium_stearate. yes. i will be hunting old textbooks more and more now.

Rogueasset. here is where a problem arises. I am a full time trucker. aside from me being on a temp disability at the moment(while waiting for my knee surgery), I spend the better part of the month on the highways beating the asphalt to a pulp. changing my current work ethics is next to impossible when it means having to change my schedule. I am too far into my profession(with limited permits, records etc) for me to just up and change. I have to learn while on the side of the road(knowledge-wise) so that I can "lab time" myself when I get home for my days off in between runs.

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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 22:08


I make fairly good $$ in my profession so, I will not cheap out when it comes to getting quality labwares. I am also a skilled carpenter/electrician. I like the idea of building my own ventilation chamber and will use my education in drafting engineering technology to design and construct a good lab to do my experimentation. some of the videos of other who have designed and built their own on youtube will definitely help.
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[*] posted on 8-5-2018 at 22:11


I really like this community. all of you are so very helpful. I haven't come across not even one teenage punk that has tried to put me down for being in my 40's and trying to make something better for myself. thanks a ton, people.
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[*] posted on 9-5-2018 at 01:11


Quote: Originally posted by LaBoom  
... I haven't come across not even one teenage punk that has tried to put me down for being in my 40's ...


There is no need to show off just because you are young :P




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[*] posted on 9-5-2018 at 02:33


J_sum1, your are right there may be some reactions which don't, the point I am trying make is that everything has a vapour pressure which need to be considered when you are working at home. Synthetic reactions (Labooms stated intention) usually need a work-up of sorts followed by a purification, in my organic experience this usually requires acids, and or bases and solvents. When you do the first shake of the seperating funnel do you never release the gas to prevent the thing from exploding on you? Build up of solvent vapour without extraction is a fire hazard especially when without proper spark free switches and devices. Not trying to cause trouble with you, just trying to keep the guy and those surrounding him safe.;)
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