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
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
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.
www.artcraftchemicals.com: 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.
www.bostick-sullivan.com: 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.
www.photoformulary.com: 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
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.
http://www.creavisie.com: 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
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
http://www.hyperdeath.co.uk/chemicals/suppliers.php. 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: