Groups and forums on chemistry

The Internet is a rich source of information on the subject of chemistry, but things get really interesting, when you read groups on chemistry or even participate in groups.

Usenet is very interesting and nowadays easily accessible, also without a news reader. A good portal to the Usenet groups is provided by Google. This portal works very well and I highly recommend browsing through the groups.

When you want to participate in certain groups, you need to register. Registration is simple and fast, but be careful, not to register with your e-mail address, which you also use for all your other communications. It is best to take a second (free) mail address and use that for registration on Google groups. Unfortunately there are more and more malicious users on Internet, which misuse the addresses for sending you a lot of crap. This remark is not here to blame Google (they have done a very good job in making Usenet more accessible), but it is here to protect you from a lot of unwanted mails.

Some interesting Google groups on chemistry are:

  • sci.chem: A discussion group on general chemistry. Unfortunately this is plagued by trolls severely at the moment. Actively participating in this group is quite cumbersome at the moment, because of the extreme amount of noise, produced by all trolls. However, sometimes there still are very interesting topics.
  • de.sci.chemie: A similar discussion group on general chemistry, but in the German language. This group fortunately essentially has no trolls. When you want to post messages on this group, identify yourself with your full name. On registration the nick-name should be chosen equal to your real name. Hidden or virtual identities are not appreciated on this group.
  • rec.pyrotechnics: Sometimes there are interesting discussions on this group on general chemistry. This is a group of serious pyrotechnics hobbyists and professionals, no bombers and other anarchists. Definitely worth watching.

When you post a message to a group, please be polite and to the point. People, who only are interested in their own noise, are not appreciated on the groups. If you post a serious question and you give the impression that you yourself also are willing to put some effort in finding an answer, then people really want to help you. If you just ask people to solve a certain exercise for you, without giving the impression that you already put some effort in it, then the response will be minimal or not serious.

Besides the Usenet groups, there are other forums on chemistry, which are really worth mentioning here. They are described below. Some forums are over-moderated, with even a question about for example nitrates regarded as a question about making explosives, effectively neutering the usefulness of the forum. Other forums are just places to discuss synthesis of chemical drugs and still others are more like places of anarchy with many irresponsible suggestions. It is best to steer away from the latter types of forums. These forums are harmful for the hobby of chemistry and should be avoided as much as possible.

A very positive forum, which really is worth looking at can be found at the following URL: This is a moderated forum, but it is moderated in a wise way. The people, who have set up this forum introduce the concept of "citizen chemistry" and their intended audience is a group of people who really are interested in chemistry at the amateur level and as hobbyist, who care for safety and other people around them, and who do not have the intention to do malicious things like making drugs or explosives.

Another forum, definitely worth to have a look at is the following. It is friendly and nicely moderated by YT2095 and a few fellow chemistry experts. The forum can be found here: The level of contributions on this forum ranges from beginner questions to expert discussions. Sometimes nice experiments are covered and properties of chemical compounds are discussed. This is a very active forum with tens of contributions per day.

Yet another forum, more geared towards the hard-core home-chemist, doing his own syntheses (drugs excluded) and doing the more controversial and sometimes more dangerous experiments is the following: Even if you don't do all the syntheses and experiments at home, this is a great place to learn. However, do not post real starter's questions. This forum definitely is intended for the more advanced home chemist who does not shy away for working with more risky materials and procedures.

A Dutch forum, which I also must mention here is Despite the ugly URL, this is a good forum. The level is high and it can be regarded as a light-weight dutch-language version of science madness, where there is a little more room for beginners in the field of home chemistry. This forum also is geared a little bit more towards pyrotechnics. Synthesis of any compound can be discussed on this forum, except drugs and warfare gasses. Discussion of synthesis of explosive or highly energetic compounds is allowed on this forum, as long as this discussion is not geared towards actual construction of bombs.

Finally, I want to mention another Dutch forum This is a forum, dedicated to helping highschool students, but also helping people from industry. The level is varying from absolute beginners questions to advanced chemistry. As opposed to the other two forums, this is not geared towards the home-chemist, but nevertheless, sometimes interesting information can be found here, and it also sometimes is good to bring in some practical knowledge in this forum.




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