Suppliers of chemicals

Although the time that you could buy all kinds of chemicals at the drugstore around the corner is behind us since many years already, there still are many sources of chemicals. In one sense, the situation has become even better and the choice of available compounds is larger than ever before. This is due to the internet, on which many compounds can be obtained on-line. The main difference is that one needs to plan in advance and think over very well what to buy. Shipping costs can be substantial and it is wise to combine the purchase of many chemicals and to ship many different chemicals in small quantities in a single parcel.

Purchasing chemicals does not need to be difficult. Just be honest and if there are questions from suppliers just explain what you intend to do with the chemicals. On this site, a list of suppliers is given, which are selling to the general public. It is my experience that professional chemical suppliers are much harder to deal with than the hobby suppliers. On this site no references to such professional chemical supply houses are given. A quick search on google will reveal many of them, but your mileage may vary with them.

Some things to take into account:

  • Strong acids must be obtained locally. Sulphuric acid is available at some hardware stores at 96% concentration as drain cleaner. Hydrochloric acid is available as 30% acid and as 10% acid at remarkably high purity at hardware stores. Nitric acid is harder to obtain. In the Netherlands it can be purchased at some drugstores at 52% concentration.
  • Flammable liquids also must be obtained locally. Shipping of these compounds is hard or even impossible or requires excessive hazardous material fees. Luckily, the most interesting flammable liquids, such as acetone, diethylether and ligroin can be obtained at many places, such as drugstores, hardware stores and pharmacies without problems.
  • Most solids can be shipped internationally, but sometimes only as surface mail. So, be prepared to wait for several weeks. Airline shipping is more restrictive and for many compounds, there are restrictions or high hazmat fees may be asked.
  • There also is quite some difference from where chemicals are ordered. Some states are very restrictive (e.g. California) and hardly any chemical can be shipped from such states, while other countries or states are less restrictive (e.g. Canada and New York). Shipping inside Europe is not a real problem, shipping overseas from Europe to the USA or Canada seems to be much more troublesome.
  • Having a credit card or the possibility to pay with PayPal really helps. Especially the USA and Canada use these methods for paying.


The company, mentioned below, is a company which sells a lot of chemicals at good prices in small quantities, ideal for the home chemist. The chemicals listed on the site are mostly interesting rare and difficult to obtain chemicals, but the site also lists several more common chemicals. Most chemicals are shipped internationally and nearly all chemicals, listed on the website are available for private persons.

The owner of this company is very helpful and it is a pleasure to deal with this company.


International suppliers of photography raw chemicals are good sources for a wide range of chemicals of fairly high purity in small quantities. Below follow three suppliers with which I have personal experience.

  • Easy to deal with. Has a wide range of chemicals. Ships worldwide almost all chemicals from their list. Use the contact form to get in touch with them. Quality of the chemicals is photo-grade, which is more than sufficient for the home lab. Also handles special orders (chemicals, not on the list) and special quantities (either lower or higher). Just ask through email. Very helpful.
  • Specialized in alternative processes, which require the use of precious metal chemicals. Somewhat expensive, but good quality. Shipping is somewhat more restrictive than the other two mentioned above, but the precious metal salts all can be shipped internationally.
  • Has a very large range of high quality chemicals. Unfortunately, they are quite restrictive in what can be shipped and what not and for many chemicals there also is some paperwork, which has to do with drugs synthesis. Even relatively benign compounds like copper sulfate or sodium bisulfite are marked as hazardous material and cannot be shipped outside the USA by this supplier. Probably this is due to strict regulations in the state of California.

Another place, where a remarkable number of interesting chemicals can be obtained is eBay. Especially metallic and semi-metallic elements can be obtained here. Just search with the name of the element, possibly combined with the word 'metal'. E.g. 'selenium metal' frequently gives a link for selenium 'metal'.

For Dutch (and possibly other European) customers the following are interesting:

  • Name it and they have it. The widest selection of chemicals I have seen at a supplier who sells to individuals. This company also sell second-hand glassware and equipment. Chemicals unfortunately are not shipped abroad, but glassware and other equipment can be arranged upon.
  • Geared at ceramics. Has many transition metal salts at really low prices and acceptable purity. Ships to destinations in the Benelux. I have very good experience with them.
  • All three shops are geared at ceramics. They have many interesting transition metal compounds, but also antimony, strontium and barium compounds. No info on whether they ship to destinations outside the Netherlands.
  • French language, ships to European destinations. Unfortunately, the minimum quantities offered are quite large, e.g. pound or kilo quantities.

A very nice list of chemicals and places where to get these chemicals can be found at This list is mostly covering USA and UK, but many suppliers mentioned in the list ship worldwide. This list is part of an overview, maintained by Chris Benton, a devoted mad scientist, who has set up a page with general information on where and how to obtain chemicals of all kinds:




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