Many chemicals are commonly available in pure form. Others are available as reagents - inexpensive, convenient sources of chemicals with a bit of processing. This is convenient for both amateur and professional chemistry work. Common reagents include:

Details on the constituent chemicals of various household products can be found on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Household Products Index.[1]

Reagent indexEdit

Chemical name Chemical formula Common name Source and description
Acetic acid CH3COOH + H2O 5% Solution: White vinegar Grocery store; "white vinegar"—5% or "cleaning vinegar"—10%

Photography supply store; "Indicator Stop Bath"—89% (with Bromocresol Purple dye) or "Glacial Acetic Acid" 99.5–100%

Acetone CH3COCH3 Acetone General; "nail polish remover"

Discount store; Onyx, Cutex. Boating supply; "fiberglass cleaner" Hardware store; "Acetone"

While composition varies from product to product, paint removers have more acetone per volume than regular nail polish remover, and industrial grade (rather than consumer grade) paint removers used by professionals + sold in bulk will contain more acetone still. Some stores sell pure acetone as well.[2]

Acetylene gas C2H2 Ethyne Hardware store or Welding supply; "acetylene"

By reaction of calcium carbide and water.

Acetylsalicylic acid C9H8O4 Aspirin Pharmacy; "Aspirin"
Aluminium Al Aluminium General; "aluminium foil"

Fine art store; "metallic pigment"—powdered aluminium

Fiberglass supply shop; powdered aluminium as a filler material.

Refined from mined aluminum ore, or bauxite.

Often coated with wax to reduce flammability.

Aluminium hydroxide Al(OH)3 alumina hydrate General; "antacid tablets"—blended with magnesium hydroxide

Antacid Tablets; Alu-cap, Amphojel, Dialume—100%

Fine art supply: "thickening agent"

Aluminium oxide Al2O3 alumina Welding/Industrial supply; "sandblasting sand"—graded sizes of crystals. Metal polishing compound

Telescope supply; grinding agent for optical components

Lapidary supply; rock polishing compound

Aluminium ammonium sulfate AlNH4(SO4)2 ammonium alum General; "styptic pencils" for shaving

Fine art supply; mordant for dying and painting

Organic/health/Bulk Foods; by name

Photography supply store; darkroom chemical

Aluminium potassium sulfate KAl(SO4)2Template:Hydrate Alum, potassium aluminium sulphate General; astringent to shrink mucus membranes

General; "styptic pencil"

General; mordant for clothing dyes (RIT brand and others)

Natural health store; "deodorant stone"

Aluminium sulfate Al2(SO4)3 Flocculating Powder Pool supply; by name

General; antiperspirant (not deodorant) brand name "Sparkling Clear"

Ammonia NH3(aq); NH4OH Ammonia, Ammonium Hydroxide Grocery store; "household ammonia"—ammonium hydroxide—10% solution.

Make sure it is marked "clear". If it foams when you shake it, it contains soap.

Drug store; "strong ammonia", 27% solution

Welding supply; "ammonia"—anhydrous ammonia in cylinders

Ammonium bicarbonate (NH4)HCO3 Salt of Hartshorn, Baker's Ammonia Scandinavian baking ingredient

Must be kept sealed for stability.

Ammonium bifluoride NH4HF2 Ammonium hydrogen fluoride Hardware store; "toilet bowl cleaner", "rust stain remover"

Automotive supply; "car body cleaner"

General; glass etching (Armour Etch brand)

Ammonium bromide NH4Br Photography store/Darkroom; "bleach bath" for photograph development
Ammonium carbonate (NH4)2CO3 Smelling Salts, Salt of Hartshorn, Baker's Ammonia Grocery/Drug store; "smelling salts" (first-aid section)

Scandinavian Baking Ingredient

Must be kept sealed for stability.

Ammonium chloride NH4Cl Soldering Flux Hardware store (plumbing); "Salt of Ammon", "Sal Ammoniac" (soldering flux/soldering iron cleaner)

Photography supply; darkroom chemical

Ammonium nitrate NH4NO3 Ammonium Nitrate Garden supply; "Nitrate of Ammonia" (fertilizer)

Grocery/Pharmacy; single-use cold packs

Ammonium persulfate (NH4)2S2O8 Ammonium Peroxodisulphate Electronics supply; "circuit board etching solution"
Ammonium phosphate (NH4)3PO4 Fertilizer Garden/Agricultural supply; by name
Ammonium sulfate (NH4)2SO4 Garden/Agricultural supply; fertilizer or pH adjuster for soil
Amylose (C6H9O5)n Cornstarch Grocery store; "corn starch"
Anthocyanin Extraction from Red Cabbage: Cut, boil, then filter
Argon gas Ar Welding supply; by name

General; inert filler gas inside incandescent light bulbs

Ascorbic acid C6H8O6 Vitamin C General; "Vitamin C tablets"


Chemical name Chemical formula Common or alternative name Source and description
barium carbonate BaCO3 Difficult to find. Sometimes available from pottery and ceramic supply stores.
barium sulfate BaSO4 Lithopone Available from fine art supply houses in a compound with zinc oxide. This compound is known as "Lithipone" pigment. Also available in very pure form from radiology labs and medical supply as a radio contrast agent for x-rays and CAT scans—here it may be scented or even flavoured. May be available from a well-stocked pottery and ceramics supply store.
benzoyl peroxide C14H10O4 Concentrations as high as 10% are available in the US at drug stores in cream form for treatment of acne. A paste containing 50% benzoyl peroxide, is available from some hardware stores under the brand name "Minwax High Performance Wood Filler".
bismuth Bi Lead-free shot/sinkers Available as a non-toxic lead replacement for bullets, shot, and fishing sinkers. Unfortunately, not as inexpensive as lead. Also, when sold as a lead replacement it is generally alloyed with tin. Note that to make bismuth crystals you will need very pure bismuth metal.
bismuth subsalicylate C7H5BiO4 Pepto-Bismol The active ingredient in Pepto-bismol and Kaopectate.
boric acid H3BO3 Ant/Roach Killer, boracic acid Grocery, drug store, hardware stores; pest control section.
bromothymol blue C27H28Br2O5S pH Test Aquarium pH test kits often employ bromothymol blue because it changes color in the 6.0–7.6 range.
butane C4H10 Butane The lighter fluid in hand-held fire starters or cigarette lighters is usually liquid butane. Also available in sporting goods & camping stores as a stove fuel. Many similar fuels use propane, so be sure to read the labeling.
caffeine C8H10N4O2 No-Doz Grocery or drug store. Often in formulation with corn starch as a binder.
cadmium sulfide CdS Cadmium Yellow Fine art supply house. Available as a yellow powder. Sometimes pure, sometimes blended with zinc sulfide to create alternative hues.
calcium carbide CaC2 Still used by cavers and spelunkers to generate acetylene gas for miner's lamps. May be found through a local caver organization (grotto) or at some non-chain camping/outdoor supply stores.
calcium carbonate CaCO3 Limestone Chunks: Marble, limestone. Powder: Precipitated chalk.

Builders supply; Chalk, limestone and marble chips.

Drugstore; some antacids are largely calcium carbonate.

Fine art stores; Available as a fine powder used as an extender in paint-making. May be called "Marble Dust" or "Precipitated Chalk".

General supply, grocery, or drug stores: Blackboard chalk.

calcium chloride CaCl2 Road Deicer Supermarket, Hardware store; much road salt (de-icer) used to de-ice roads in cold climates.

Also available as a laundry aid; or as a room moisture reducer (desiccant), e.g. "DampRid" and "Dri-Z-Air"

Pool supply; sometimes available as a water hardening agent.

calcium hydroxide Ca(OH)2 Slaked Lime, garden lime Gardening department; used to reduce acidity in soil.

Also used in lime-softening water treatment and in plastering. Can be made from lime or quicklime by adding water to create slaked lime. Can be made by dissolving calcium chloride with sodium hydroxide in water.

calcium hypochlorite Ca(ClO)2 Bleaching powder and some swimming pool disinfectants contain calcium hypochlorite. Available from cleaning or swimming pool supply companies. Keep in mind that some formulations contain cyanuric acid as a stabilizer against UV light.
calcium nitrate Ca(NO3)2·4H2O Norwegian saltpeter Available from garden supply and agricultural supply stores as a fertilizer.
calcium oxide CaO Lime, Quicklime Builder's supply; used to make plaster. Now difficult to obtain from hardware stores. Can be made by heating calcium carbonate at very high temperatures (> 900 °C). Found in certain Self-heating cans separated from a water compartment, extraction may be inconvenient and is converted to calcium hydroxide after activation.
calcium phosphate, monobasic Ca(H2PO4)2 superphosphate Available as a fertilizer from garden supply stores. Also sometimes available as a nutritional supplement at health food stores.
calcium sulfate anhydrous CaSO4 Can be made from commonly available plaster of paris by additional heating to above 180C. Also available at fine art supply stores as Terra Alba.
calcium sulfate, hemihydrate CaSO4Template:Hydrate Plaster of Paris Hardware stores, arts and craft stores, and hobby shops.
calcium sulfate dihydrate CaSO4Template:Hydrate Gypsum Can be made from the reaction of Plaster of Paris with Water.
camphor C10H16O Can be found as a flavor additive at some Chinese grocery stores. Sometimes found in the drugstore as a cream or oral remedy. It feels cool like menthol on the skin.
carbon C Soot, Graphite, Graphene, Carbon nanotubes, Fullerenes, Diamond, Charcoal Charcoal briquettes used in cooking are available at the grocery store but contain a variety of additives. Activated charcoal used in fish tank filters and graphite used in pencil leads are good sources of carbon. Lamp Black artists pigment is pure carbon in a fine powder and is available from fine art supply stores. The anodes in carbon-zinc (heavy-duty) batteries are pure carbon. Coal is not a good source for carbon due to a wide number of impurities and varying grades. Brazing or Gouging rods are available from welding supply stores and are composed of graphite. Graphite is also available as a common lubricant from hardware stores. Other forms of carbon are occasionally available through online retailers selling to element collectors, eBay, engineering suppliers and industrial suppliers. Pure or near-pure carbon can be produced at home through the reaction of Sucrose with Sulfuric Acid or the thermal decomposition of sugars. Diamonds, although prohibitively expensive (except bort or artificial diamonds), can also act as a source of Carbon, such as reducing oxides.
carbon dioxide CO2 Dry ice is available from party stores, supermarkets, refrigeration supply companies and ice cream companies. Nationally distributed by Airgas through "Penguin Brand Dry Ice". Gaseous form available in small canisters at sporting goods stores. Used in air guns and in paintball.
carbonic acid H2CO3 Soda water is simply carbonated water, a dilute solution of carbonic acid. A "Soda Club" home soda maker is a good way to make your own carbonic acid in varying strengths.
carrageenan Available in some health food stores as a food additive. Used in many commercial food preparations as a thickener and gelling agent. Available at fine art supply stores for use in molding and marbling.
cellulose (C6H10O5)n Processed cotton fiber is almost pure cellulose making many undyed clothing articles an excellent source of cellulose. 100% cotton paper is also a good source of this material.
chromium oxide Cr2O3 Chrome Green Used as a green pigment for fine art paints. It is available as a powder from most fine art supply stores.

Sold as 'Green Rouge' for polishing metal. Often mixed with paraffin to ease handling. Cheaper grades can contain filler materials.

citric acid C6H8O7 Sour Salt Available at the grocery store as "Sour Salt". Also used for home soap making and also in photographic development.
copper Cu Electrical wire, copper pipe, and copper sheeting are available at hardware stores and are almost 100% pure copper. American pennies (minted 1944–1946, 1962–1982) are 95% copper and 5% zinc. Pennies minted after 1982 are only copper clad.
copper naphthenate Cu(C11H10O2)2 cupric naphthenate Used as a wood preservative to protect lumber from termites, ants, and other burrowing insects. Brands including Wolman and Jasco are up to 25% copper naphthenate with the remainder composed of linseed oil and petroleum distillate-based solvents.
copper sulfate (anhydrous) CuSO4 cupric sulfate (anhydrous) Available from garden supply or pond supply stores as an algaecide and rootkiller.

NB: blue vitriol is copper sulfate pentahydrate. It can be converted into unhydrated copper sulfate by heating to 150C until it turns pure white.

copper sulfate pentahydrate CuSO4Template:Hydrate cupric sulfate, blue vitriol, bluestone Hardware store; rootkiller (Zep Root Kill, Rooto Root Kill)

Gardening, agricultural supply; active ingredient in many algaecides, available for pest control

cyanuric acid C3H3N3O3 isocyanuric acid Available from swimming pool and lawn/yard supply stores as a chlorine stabilizer. A pure tablet form sells under the brand name "Kem Tek".


Chemical name Chemical formula Common or alternative name Source and description
dextromethorphan hydrobromide C18H26NOBr Tussin Cough, RoboCough Can be extracted from cough syrups containing dextromethorphan hydrobromide. Extraction methods will also remove guaifenesin.
dextrose C6H12O6 glucose, corn syrup Grocery; corn syrup, some throat lozenges are pure dextrose.

Dextrose is right-handed (dextrorotatory) glucose. L-Glucose is left-handed (levorotatory) glucose. It cannot be metabolized by living organisms as a source of energy. Although "levulose" is an archaic name for fructose, fructose has an entirely different structure from glucose, and is not glucose's levorotatory form.

dichloromethane CH2Cl2 methylene chloride Used as a solvent, degreaser and adhesive remover, it is available from hardware, automotive, and sometimes craft stores. Purity of commercial products can approach 90% with the remainder being composed of alcohols and petroleum distillates. Common brands include "Champion Paint Off", many choke and valve cleaners, and Klean Strip Graffiti Remover.
dimethyl sulfoxide (CH3)2SO DMSO Available from health food and naturopathic supply stores for treating injuries. Warning: DMSO will allow anything it has dissolved to pass directly through your skin into your bloodstream. Use gloves and skin protection when working with this chemical.
diphenhydramine C17H21NO Benadryl Can be extracted from over-the-counter sleep aids.
ethanol/ethyl alcohol C2H5OH Everclear Available as 95% pure ethanol and 5% water from liquor stores in most states. Also available in denatured form from hardware stores. Grocery and drug stores may carry it as ethyl rubbing alcohol.
ether (C2H5)2O diethyl ether, ethoxyethane Sold at auto supply stores in aerosol cans as "Starter Fluid" or "Cold Start Spray". Used to help start damp or inefficient old engines.
ethylene glycol CH2OHCH2OH 1,2-ethanediol Some engine antifreezes are primarily ethylene glycol and can be obtained at an automotive supply store.
eugenol CH2CH2CH2C6H3(OCH3)OH oil of clove, 2-methoxy-4-(2-propenyl)phenol Available at most health food and natural healing stores as clove oil. Note that organically derived oil of clove will have numerous impurities from the distillation process. Synthetic oil of clove is generally pure but more difficult to find.
formic acid CH2O2 methanoic acid Available in some stain removers at the hardware store. A fairly pure 5% concentration can be obtained from the blue chamber of "Clorox Dual Action Toilet Bowl Cleanser".
fructose C6H12O6 Fruit Sugar Easily available from most grocery stores.
glucose C6H12O6 Dextrose, corn syrup Grocery; corn syrup. Some throat lozenges are pure dextrose.

Dextrose is right-handed (dextrorotatory) glucose. Levulose is left-handed (levorotatory) glucose. Most products are a half-and-half mix.

glycerin, glycerol C3H8O3 1,2,3-propanetriol Glycerin is an emollient used to soften skin by delaying the evaporation of water. It is available at most drug stores.
gold Au Gold jewelry is generally not pure gold. Gold is generally alloyed with other metals to increase strength. Gold coins are often .999 fine gold and many may be obtained at "bullion value" from local coin shops. Pure gold dust and gold foils are available from fine art supply stores.
gum Arabic CH4O3S gum acacia Available at arts & crafts stores and at fine art supply stores as a binder for turning pigments into paints. In solution with water.


Chemical name Chemical formula Common or alternative name Source and description
helium He Helium can be obtained from party stores or wherever helium balloons are available. Small disposable containers are available for long-term storage. Containers made by Worthington Industries are 99% pure helium. Note that "balloon gas" is a mixture of helium and normal air.
hexamine C6H12N4 Hexamethylenetetramine Sold as solid fuel tablets in camping and outdoor stores, in combination with 1,3,5-trioxane.
hydrogen gas H2 Hydrogen Can be generated and captured from electrolysis of water and a wide variety of inorganic chemical reactions. Adding aluminium foil to a solution of Sodium Hydroxide will generate hydrogen gas. Highly flammable and explosive under pressure or in quantity.
hydrochloric acid HCl Muriatic acid Hardware store; used in swimming pool maintenance, as masonry cleaner and in silverware cleaner.

Percentages vary but concentrations as high as 35% can be found. Sometimes sold as "Bleaching Water" and many other alternative names.

It can be made by performing electrolysis on salt water with platinum anodes and cathodes, and combining the gases away from sunlight. (Doing this in sunlight is dangerous, as an explosive reaction will occur.)

hydrofluoric acid HF Glass etching Solution Hardware store; Aluminum brightener & tire cleaner

Fine art supply; for etching glass.

Grocery; under various brand names as a rust remover.

Car dealership; professional grade tire cleaning solutions are typically more concentrated.

Must be stored in polyethylene or Teflon containers. Recommended to keep Calcium gluconate gel on hand in case of an accidental spill. Highly toxic and dangerous

hypochlorous acid HClO Laundry Bleach Hardware, grocery, or general supply store.
hydroquinone C6H6O2 Photography store catering to the at-home darkroom crowd.
hydrogen peroxide H2O2 Peroxide Hydrogen peroxide antiseptic (3%)or even (6%) is available from the drug store. Clairoxide hair bleach by Clairol is much more concentrated (12%) and is available from beauty supply stores. Concentrations as high as 35% may be available at health food stores and natural medicine stores as a source of "natural oxygen". Swimming pool and spa suppliers often carry concentrations as high as 27% but these usually contain preservatives/stabilizers. Note: Do not heat. Do not store in metal containers.
iodine I2 Iodide Tincture of iodine, a topical antiseptic used for treating wounds, is a solution of iodine dissolved in ethyl alcohol. It is available at most drug stores. Available from camping stores as crystals for sterilizing water. Crystal Iodine can also be synthesized from Potassium Iodide as radiation pills, utilizing laboratory methods. Certain laboratory methods can be considerably hazardous. Iodine is illicitly used in the production of methamphetamine, making iodine somewhat difficult to obtain. In the United States, it is illegal to sell, purchase, transport, or possess iodine with the knowledge or intention of its use for producing methamphetamine. Small quantities, such as those used in chemistry experiments such as the Briggs–Rauscher reaction, are legal to obtain and require no permits nor record-keeping.[3]
iron Fe Steel wool, iron nails, iron bolts, nuts, screws are good sources of iron.
ferric chloride FeCl3 Etching Solution Available in solution from Radio Shack and other electronics suppliers as an etching solution for circuit boards. Also available in solution from fine art supply stores.
ferric oxide (Iron III Oxide) Fe2O3 Rust Common rust. Reddish in color. Can be scraped off of rusted iron objects or purchased in a purified form as the artists pigment "Red Iron Oxide" from fine art supply stores.
ferrous ferric oxide (Iron II III Oxide) Fe3O4 Magnetite Used as the artists pigment "Mars Black" and can be purchased from fine art supply stores.
iron(II) sulfate FeSO4 Ferrous sulfate, Sulfate of iron, Copperas Available from garden supply stores as a nutrient. Also available as a mordant for pigments from stores that carry dyeing and textile supplies.
kerosene CnH2n+1 (n=12–16) Aviation Fuel Lamp oil or kerosene is sold in the paint departments of most hardware stores. Also available in larger quantities from gas stations in many parts of the country.


Chemical name Chemical formula Common or alternative name Source and description
lactic acid C3H6O3 Milk Acid Available from grocery stores and health food stores.
lanthanum chloride <chem>LaCl3.\mathit{n}H2O</chem> Lanthanum(III) chloride Available as aqueous pool clarifier from certain brands. Concentration is listed as approx. 60% by weight.
latex C3H6O3 Liquid Latex Body Paint Available from adult toy stores as a novelty item and from select hobby shops. Compositions vary in the amount of ammonia and fillers they contain. Also costume/magic shops, as liquid skin/liquid latex.
lead Pb Lead shot and lead sinkers are used by fishermen and are available at sporting goods stores, Lead shot is often sold in 25 lb (11.34 kg) bags. They may be alloyed with tin and antimony. Also lead is used for wheel balancing weights at auto garages. Lead sheeting may be obtained from stores that carry roofing supplies.
linseed oil Used as a binder in paints and as a finish for wood. Available at hardware stores and fine art supply stores.
Lithium Li Lithium can be obtained from lithium batteries.[4]
magnesium Mg Fire starter Sold in solid blocks as a fire starter in many camping and outdoor stores. Also used in the construction of metal-bodied pencil sharpeners made by the company "KUM" of Germany.
magnesium carbonate MgCO3 Athlete's chalk Often sold as a powder in sporting goods stores for gymnastics, weightlifting, and climbing to help keep hands dry. Sometimes it is combined with calcium carbonate in this use. Available in tablet form as an antacid. Some antacids are pure while others are blended with calcium carbonate.
magnesium hydroxide Mg(OH)2 Milk of Magnesia Milk of Magnesia is an antacid used to settle excess acid in the stomach. Some antacid tablets also contain magnesium hydroxide.Template:Clarify[and what else?]
magnesium silicate Mg3Si4O10(OH)2 Talc Talcum powder comes from talc, the softest of all minerals, and is used as a dusting powder for babies. It is available in the body care section of the drug store.
magnesium sulfate <chem>MgSO4.7H2O</chem> Epsom Salt Drug store; Epsom salt is sold as a laxative or as an anti-inflammatory soak. Also available as a chemical for photographic development.
magnesium chloride MgCl2 Nigari or Lushui Asian markets; Nigari, as it is called in Japan, or Lushui, as it is called in China. Used to make tofu from soy milk.
manganese dioxide MnO2 Pyrolusite Hardware store; available as the black powder in unused alkaline or carbon-zinc batteries. One can remove the embedded zinc chloride solution by extensively washing this powder in distilled water.
melatonin C13H16N2O2 Can be extracted from over-the-counter melatonin tablets.
mercury Hg Quicksilver Becoming difficult to find due to fears of toxicity and environmental contamination. Old mercury switches can be found in many thermostats. Old-style thermometers contain mercury. Fluorescent light tubes contain a small amount of mercury though it can be difficult to extract. Specialty occult stores may carry it as quicksilver.
methane CH4 Natural Gas Gas line in many homes.
methanol CH3OH Methyl Alcohol Methanol is sold as a solvent in paint supply stores under the names "wood alcohol" or "methyl alcohol". Available from automotive supply as a gasoline line anti-freeze. HEET antifreeze contains 99% methanol.[5]
methyl ethyl ketone CH3COC2H5 MEK Available from most hardware stores as a solvent.
methyl ethyl ketone peroxide C8H16O4 MEKP Available in dilute solution from hardware and boating supply stores as a catalyst for the polymerization of polyester resins.
methyl isobutyl ketone CH3COCH2CH(CH3)2 MIBK Available from many hardware stores as a solvent.
methylene blue C16H18ClN3S Methidote Methylene blue (Methidote antiseptic) is used to treat small injured fish and is available at pet stores.
methylene chloride CH2Cl2 dichloromethane Used as a solvent, degreaser and adhesive remover, it is available from hardware, automotive, and sometimes craft stores. Purity of commercial products can approach 90% with the remainder being composed of alcohols and petroleum distillates. Common brands include "Champion Paint Off", many choke and valve cleaners, and Klean Strip Graffiti Remover.
methyl salicylate C6H4(OH)COOCH3 Oil of Wintergreen Drug store
mineral oil Complex mixture of hydrocarbons Mineral oil is sold in drug stores as an emollient. Some baby oils are essentially mineral oil and fragrance.
monosodium glutamate C5H8NO4Na "味精, MSG" Widely used as a condiment in many parts of Asia. Can be purchased from Chinese or Japanese grocery stores. Also easily acquired in many supermarkets as a "flavor enhancer".
naphthalene C10H8 moth balls Hardware store, grocery store.

NB: Mothballs may also be made of (para)dichlorobenzene (1,4-dichlorobenzene)

nickel Ni Pre-1985 Canadian nickels are made of nickel. Note: American "nickels" are composed of 25% nickel and 75% copper. Nickel is often used as a welding filler material, and 1/16–1/8" Ni wire is often available at welding supply stores. "Silver" center of Euro coins is pure nickel.
nitrogen N2 liquid nitrogen Hospitals, laboratories, welding supply houses, and industrial gas suppliers can all provide liquid or gaseous nitrogen.
nitrous oxide N2O whipping gas, laughing gas Whipped cream canisters from the grocery store; or in larger canisters from commercial restaurant supply houses. When packaged for automotive use it is usually contaminated with hydrogen sulfide to discourage inhalation. Industrial (welding supply) nitrous oxide contains NO and NO2 (can be removed with moist steel wool) which combines with water to make nitric acid, so use with good ventilation to avoid inhalation. (Heating ammonium nitrate generates an industrial grade of nitrous oxide at the risk of explosion.)


Chemical name Chemical formula Common or alternative name Sources in the USA and description
oxalic acid (COOH)2 rust remover, non-chlorine bleach powder cleanser Grocery, drug, hardware stores. "Bar Keeper's Friend".

Hardware store; radiator cleaner, "wood bleach powder", rust remover.

"Prestone Heavy Duty Cooling System Cleaner" may contain up to 98% oxalic acid with handful of trace impurities.

oxygen O2 Portable welding oxygen tanks are available at welding shops and some hardware stores. Can be generated in small quantities from the electrolysis of water.
para-dichlorobenzene C6H4Cl2 moth flakes, moth crystals Hardware or grocery store
paraffin CnH2n+2 (n>19) Unless otherwise labeled, candle wax is made of paraffin. Some grocery stores sell paraffin as a sealant for home canning. Many arts and crafts stores sell paraffin for at-home candle makers. "Vaseline" brand is also paraffin, albeit with molecules that are slightly shorter.
phenol C6H5OH Phenol can be found in small amounts (~1–2%) in analgesic sore throat spray.
phenolphthalein C20H14O4 Magic shops might carry it as a pinkish disappearing ink. Blue disappearing ink is not phenolphthalein but thymolphthalein. Difficult to find outside of chemical supply.
phenol red C19H19SO5 phenolsulfonephthalein Used as a pH tester for swimming pools. Available at swimming pool supply stores.
phosphoric acid H3PO4 pH Down Some pH reducers (available at pet stores) used in fish tanks are simply dilute solutions (up to 30%) of phosphoric acid. Also available in gel form at hardware stores as a rust remover. "Naval Jelly" in a spray bottle at hardware stores. Also used as a solder flux.
phosphorus P4 Matchbox strips contain red phosphorus mixed with glass, which can be separated with solvents.
polystyrene casting resin Hobby shop
polyurethane foam Mountains in Minutes Hobby shop, hardware, or building supply store.
potassium aluminium sulfate KAl(SO4)2Template:Hydrate Alum, aluminium potassium sulfate It is used as an astringent to shrink mucous membranes. Some styptic pencils use it in their formulation. Often sold as a deodorant stone at natural health stores. Also available as a mordant for clothing dyes (RIT brand and others).
potassium bitartrate K.(COO).CHOH.CHOH.COOH Cream of Tartar Cream of Tartar is available at the grocery store and is used to stabilize delicate foods like meringue toppings and other baked egg-white products.
potassium bromide KBr Photography store catering to at-home darkroom users.
potassium carbonate K2CO3 Potash Available at some garden supply and agricultural stores.
potassium chloride KCl Salt substitute Available as a salt substitute for people seeking to limit their sodium intake, and is available at most supermarkets. Also available in larger quantities, though slightly less pure, as a road salt de-icer.
potassium chromium sulfate KCr(SO4)2Template:Hydrate potassium chrome alum Photography store catering to at-home darkroom users.
potassium dichromate K2Cr2O7 Photography store catering to at-home darkroom users. Also used as a mordant ("Chrome Mordant") for textiles and may be available at a dyeing and fabric store.
potassium hydroxide KOH Caustic potash Available at some ceramic supply houses and from arts and crafts stores for soap making. Difficult to find. May be the active ingredient in some drain cleaning solutions. Kodak SII Activator is 10% potassium hydroxide with various sulfites and bromides in the mixture. Veterinary supply houses may carry it for dissolving hair and horns in animals.
potassium iodide KI Radiation Pills Available sometimes as a photographic development chemical. Also from outdoor/survivalist stores in pill form to reduce the uptake of radioactive iodine after a nuclear accident.
potassium iron (ii) hexacyanoferrate(iii) KFe[Fe(CN)6] potassium iron ferricyanide, potassium ferroferricyanide Mrs. Stewart's liquid laundry bluing is used to whiten clothes and may be found in the detergents section of the supermarket.
potassium metabisulfite K2S3O5 Campden tablets Used as a sterilizing agent in winemaking and brewing processes. Sold as tablets which may be pure, blended with sodium metabisulfite, or contain only sodium metabisulfite.
potassium nitrate KNO3 Saltpeter, saltpetre Supermarket; saltpeter or quick salt is used to cure home-made sausages and corned beef. May be available at independent butcher shops.

Agriculture and gardening stores: fertilizer, tree stump remover and root killer.

potassium permanganate KMnO4 Clearwater Clearwater is a solution of approximately 50% potassium permanganate and is used to remove odors and cloudiness from water to be used in aquariums and garden ponds. Also used to treat fish diseases. Used as ~98% pure powder for treatment of hard well water in water softeners. Potassium permanganate in dilute solution can also be found in certain fish water additives, sometimes labelled as "Gill, Fungus, Parasite's Special". One sure way to test is to put some onto your skin and leave it there for a while, then look for a brownish coloration/stain. The color of the solution is the same as normal permanganate in solution.
potassium sodium tartrate <chem>NaKC4H4O6 * 4H2O</chem> Rochelle salt Drug store
propane C3H8 Gas barbecue fuel generally consists of propane and is available at many gasoline stations or picnic supply stores.
2-propanol CH3CHOHCH3 rubbing alcohol Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) is a concentrated solution of 2-propanol and may be found in most drug stores. Supermarkets owned by Safeway carry a 99% pure version. Iso-HEET Gas Line Antifreeze contains 98.5% 2-propanol.[6]
propylhexedrine C10H21N Benzedrex, Obesin Can be extracted from over-the-counter Benzedrex inhalers.
pseudoephedrine C10H15NO Sudafed Pseudoephedrine can be extracted from behind-the-counter Sudafed.


Chemical name Chemical formula Common or alternative name Source and description
silicon carbide SiC Carborundum This hard, abrasive powder is often found sorted by particle size for use in sandblasting and industrial supply houses.
silicon Si Found in small quantities on computer chips.
silicon dioxide SiO2 Sand, silica Quartz sand is relatively pure silicon dioxide and is available at many building supply stores and also aquarium shops. Often found sorted by particle size for use in sandblasting. Micrometre sized particles are used as a filler in rubbers, plastics, and mold making materials and may be available in hobby shops as Min-u-Sil brand.

Available in a porous, amorphous form as the silica desiccant packets found in many sealed food envelopes, electronics boxes, and other packaging. New desiccant packets are often available from local photography stores which cater to the at-home darkroom crowd.

Non-porous amorphous silica is industrially known as Cab-o-Sil. Fairly pure quartz (silica) crystal can be found as one of the rock varieties in many "fill your bag with treasure" stands at tourist-oriented gift shops.[citation needed]

silver Ag Older non-clad American dimes, quarters, half dollars and silver dollars are 90% silver and 10% copper. Pure silver coins and bullion can be obtained from local coin shops, often at bullion value.
sodium acetate NaC2H3O2 Hand Warmer Main ingredient in hand-warmers that are available at sporting goods stores. Can also be made through the reaction of baking soda and vinegar.
sodium borate <chem>Na2B4O7.10H2O</chem> The water can be driven off of grocery store Borax by heating to 200C to create pure sodium borate (although it will begin absorbing atmospheric moisture again when cooled and left in the open).
sodium bicarbonate NaHCO3 Baking Soda, Bicarbonate of Soda Grocery baking section; "single action baking soda"

NB: Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate, but baking powder has other ingredients, such as potassium tartrate and sodium monophosphate. Double action baking powder contains single action baking powder, a 'high temperature acid', and corn starch.

disodium phosphate Na2HPO4 pH Down Found at pet stores and used to lower the pH of aquarium water.
sodium bisulfate NaHSO4 pH Down Pool supply store. Crystal Vanish drain cleaner.
sodium bromide NaBr Hot Tub Salt Pool supply store
sodium carbonate Na2CO3 Washing soda, soda ash Grocery; "Arm & Hammer"

Cloth, art stores; Washing soda is used to treat wool fibers.

Pool supply; used to raise pH (increasing alkalinity) under brand names such as PH Up and PH Plus. Can easily be made by baking Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) at 350 degrees.

sodium chlorate NaClO3 Available from gardening and agricultural stores. This herbicide is toxic to all green plants and, as such, is becoming less available as more selective herbicides some onto the market. Some brand names are Atlacide, Defol, Drop-Leaf, and Tumbleaf. Read product labeling to deduce the particular purity of any of these brands.
sodium chloride NaCl Salt Grocery; Table salt used in cooking is sodium chloride, usually with anti-caking agents such as magnesium carbonate. "Iodized salt" contains traces of sodium iodide.

Uniodized salt is available and is often explicitly labeled as such. Kosher salt, canning or pickling salt, or other large crystal salt is generally more pure.

Water supply; For large quantities, uniodized sodium chloride can be obtained inexpensively from water softener suppliers.

sodium fluoride NaF Used in toothpastes and mouthwashes to prevent cavities. Difficult to obtain in pure form. Most dental solutions contain a laundry list of inert ingredients to provide coloring, flavor, foaming, and other aesthetic properties.
sodium hexametaphosphate (NaPO3)6 Sodium polymetaphosphate, Calgon water softener This water softener, surfactant and detergent is the primary ingredient in Calgon water softener. It is available at the grocery and hardware store. It is also known by other names including: glassy sodium, Graham's Salt, and hexasodium salt.
sodium hydroxide NaOH Lye, Caustic Soda Grocery, hardware; Known also as caustic soda and lye, sodium hydroxide is used in many commercial drain cleaners/openers.

Ex: Rooto Drain Opener (100% Pure), Drano (not 100% pure), Roebic Crystal Drain Opener

NB: Keep out of eyes

sodium hypochlorite NaClO Bleach Household bleach is generally a 5% solution of sodium hypochlorite.
sodium nitrate NaNO3 Chile saltpeter Garden supply store
sodium metabisulfite Na2S2O5 Campden tablets Used as a sterilizing agent in winemaking and brewing processes. Sold as tablets which may be pure, blended with potassium metabisulfite, or contain only potassium metabisulfite.
sodium percarbonate 2Na2CO3·3H2O2 sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate A combination of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide in solution, this is often sold as a wood bleach for use on decks and outdoor wood furniture. Available at many hardware and home improvement stores. Sometimes referred to as "oxygenated bleach".
sodium phosphate Na3PO4 Tri Sodium Phosphate Tri-sodium phosphate, commonly known as TSP, is available at hardware stores and is used to clean walls prior to painting.
sodium silicate Na2SiO3, Na2Si3O7 water glass, egg preserver, magic rocks Can be found at some hardware stores and drug stores. Available from ceramic suppliers as a flocculent in clay slip casting. Non-phosphate TSP substitute. Liquid sold with "muffler bandage" at auto stores.
sodium sulfite Na2SO3 Photography store catering to the at-home darkroom crowd.
sodium sulfate Na2SO4 Photography store catering to the at-home darkroom crowd.
sodium tetraborate decahydrate Na2B4O7Template:Hydrate Borax Market, drug store; Borax, such as Twenty-Mule-Team Borax Laundry Booster.
sodium thiosulfate Na2S2O3 Hypo Photographer's hypo is used in photograph development and is available at photography supply stores. Also available from pet shops as a de-chlorination additive to fish water.
stearic acid C17H35CO2H candle hardener Some arts and crafts stores will carry this item. It is used by do-it-yourself candle makers.
Steel Fe alloyed with C and depending on type, possibly also Ni, B, V, Cr among others Galvanised wire, nail (fasteners), stainless steel, ball bearings, steel wool Steel, although commonly used in industry and construction, is often unavailable in pure form (other than a few types such of mild steel, galvanised steel, stainless steel and carbon steel that are used for amateur metalworking) to amateur scientists. Otherwise, they will have to make do with galvanised or stainless steel materials such as nails, screws, tools, cutlery, steel wool, ball bearings, steel girders and steel wire. Due to the variety of steel types, carbon content will widely vary and can contain many other elements such as Nickel, Vanadium, Chromium, Silicon, Boron, Zinc, Aluminium, Titanium, Manganese, Tungsten; these alloys all have different names and are sporadically available in different areas and retailers. Steel of various types can also be plated with Zinc or Tin to prevent corrosion or Gold to make it look precious
sucrose C12H22O11 Sugar Grocery; Table sugar is available in large or small bags and in a variety of particle sizes.

It is made from sugar beets and sugarcane.

sulfur (sulphur) S Flowers of sulfur are sold at some garden stores to treat certain plant diseases. Found at most Home Depot stores as "Organic Garden sulfur". Also available at many drug stores.
sulfuric acid H2SO4 vitriol, oil of vitriol Hardware store; battery acid. May also be obtained at some auto supply stores.

Plumbing supply; buffered solutions available: "Pro Liquid Drain Cleaner"

Pet supply; dilute aqueous solution is used to lower the pH in aquariums.


Chemical name Chemical formula Common or alternative name Source and description
tannic acid C76H52O46 tannin Arts and crafts store in the dyes and fabric section. Some photography stores and drug stores may carry it.
tartaric acid C4H6O6 wine preservative Sold in wine-making supply stores and sometimes in the grocery store.
tetrachloroethylene C2Cl4 tetrachloroethene The most common solvent for dry cleaning, it is available in aerosol form from hardware, auto supply, and home improvement stores. Brands like "Lectra Motive Auto Care" and "Gummout Professional Brake Parts Cleaner" contain as much as 99% with methylene chloride as the only major contaminant.
thymolphthalein C28H30O4 disappearing ink It is the blue disappearing ink available at magic supply stores.
titanium dioxide TiO2 Titanium White Available as a fine powder for use as a pure white pigment from fine art supply stores.
1,1,1 trichloroethane CCl3CH3 cleaning fluid, degreaser hardware store
trichloroisocyanuric acid C3Cl3N3O3 Pool chlorination/sanitizing tablets in pool stores.
1,1,1,2 tetrafluoroethane CF3CH2F Most "canned air" products contain this gas under pressure. Read the labels as some contain other solvents.
thiourea CS(NH2)2 Thiocarbamide Many silver cleaning products including Hagerty and Tarn-X contain thiourea as the only active ingredient. Other brands may use other active compounds in combination.
toluene C6H5CH3 Methylbenzene, cellulose thinner Available from most hardware stores as a solvent, or as a component of lacquer thinner.
trichloroethylene CHClCCl2 trichloroethene Available as a fairly pure aerosol from hardware and auto supply stores. Brand names include "Lectra Clean" and "Trouble Free Rust Buster".
trioxane C3H6O3 Found in military surplus stores as a military fire starter.
tungsten W The filament in incandescent light bulbs is made of tungsten. Also, small tungsten rods are available at welding supply stores. They are sold as TIG electrodes, and they commonly come in 1/16, 3/32, and 1/8" diameters. Request pure tungsten, as they also come alloyed with 2% Thorium, Lanthanum and other elements. Lead free fishing sinkers are sometimes tungsten.
turpentine Available at hardware stores and fine art supply stores.
urea H2NCONH2 ice melter, fertilizer, carbamide Available at some hardware stores and at garden supply stores. "Bonide Azalea" fertilizer is 99% urea.
water H2O Distilled (pure) water, is available in most grocery stores. This and "deionized" water are sufficient for most chemical reactions. "Spring water" or "tap water" have numerous minerals in solution. For certain, extremely sensitive experiments, contamination from plasticizers in the bottle may affect your reactions.
xylene C8H10 dimethylbenzene Available at hardware stores, paint stores, and fine art supply stores.
zinc Zn zinc Recent American pennies are 95% zinc with a 5% copper coating Cent (United States coin). Galvanized coating on steel. Inside of carbon-zinc batteries. Found in some hardware stores as "moss strip" for rooftop. The case of carbon-zinc batteries is zinc. "Galvanizing paint" contains powdered Zinc in paint, separate with paint thinner. Pure zinc sacrificial electrodes are available at marine supply stores.
zinc chloride ZnCl2 + H2O Tinner's Fluid, "killed acid" Hardware store; used for cleaning copper.

Can be created by dissolving a small amount of zinc in hydrochloric acid. Anhydrous zinc chloride can be created by reacting hot molten zinc with chlorine gas or anhydrous hydrogen chloride gas.

zinc oxide ZnO pompholyx Found in opaque sunscreens for its UV opacity. "Chinese White" fine arts pigment is very pure.
zinc sulfate ZnSO4 zinc sulfate "Moss Killer" for use on roofs and concrete. (Moss killer for grass lawns is Ferrous Ammonium Sulfate.)

See alsoEdit



  1. Household Products Index,
  2. "Onyx Professional Nail Polish Remover, 100% Pure Acetone". 
  3. "U.S. Department of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC)". 
  4. "Lithium metal foil from Energizer "Ultimate Lithium" batteries". 
  5. [1]
  6. [2]
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