Tell us about yourself!

Complete Your Profile
  • Start an Element Collection - How to Find Samples in Everyday Places

    Collection is going steady I suppose. I recently found a junked smoke detector to get americium from, and I bought some vintage radium watch hands, though I'm not 100% if it's actually radium, and I don't know a good way to prove it. The zinc sulfide phosphor is long gone.Yeah, your table may be a much better display than mine, but it is definitely harder to ship. Mine could easily fit in one of those big pizza delivery bags.At least we're within the same country. If I encounter enough of something that you don't have, I'll definitely keep you in mind. But for now, your collection is more complete than mine, and many of my samples (like phosphorus or potassium) are more of temporary placeholders, that I eventually intend to replace with something more "pure".Considering o...

    see more »

    Collection is going steady I suppose. I recently found a junked smoke detector to get americium from, and I bought some vintage radium watch hands, though I'm not 100% if it's actually radium, and I don't know a good way to prove it. The zinc sulfide phosphor is long gone.Yeah, your table may be a much better display than mine, but it is definitely harder to ship. Mine could easily fit in one of those big pizza delivery bags.At least we're within the same country. If I encounter enough of something that you don't have, I'll definitely keep you in mind. But for now, your collection is more complete than mine, and many of my samples (like phosphorus or potassium) are more of temporary placeholders, that I eventually intend to replace with something more "pure".Considering our ages (I personally am 28) I'd say we're both off to a good start with our collections.I'm still making some minor adjustments to my display but I'll get around to sending pictures. In the meantime, maybe we should connect through email instead - might be a little easier to keep in touch.I too have a lot of random mini-projects going on. I'm sitting in front of one of them right now (a 3D camera that I'm creating myself). For me, the periodic table is just a nice way to keep myself busy without stressing over when/if it will be complete. I have a bad tendency to not finish things once I reach a proof of concept.Xenon was one of the first samples I bought. I got a couple small bulbs on ebay for about $4 including shipping. They just barely fit in my containers. They're oddly hard to find though, so that's good you managed to get one without really trying. It can be really difficult to prove what's inside certain bulbs. Took me a while to figure out which bulbs I had contained bromine.My containers are cylinder shaped, but they're made of polystyrene (a cheap clear plastic). They're about 1 inch in diameter and 1.5 inches tall. They have a rubbery lid to them that's a little opaque, and I printed circular labels to glue on each lid containing the atomic symbol and number. You can't really see the label when looking at the display, it's mostly just there so I don't accidentally misplace one of the samples. Unfortunately, the lids aren't very good at keeping in gasses, because my iodine sample has been making a mess staining everything around it yellow...

    View Instructable »
  • Start an Element Collection - How to Find Samples in Everyday Places

    Yeah I'd have much preferred acrylic, but I chose wood instead since getting accurate and clean cuts is tough with the tools to my disposal (and wood is much easier to refine). I am at least using acrylic for the windows, though I need to buy a new panel for one of the segments since it has a crack in it. My display is compact and portable though - whenever I move to a new place, dealing with each of the samples would be a real tedious process, but these boxes make that much easier. Your display is much nicer looking than mine.Anyway, according to my research, 89 elements are actually legally collectible (at least in most countries), with neptunium being a sort of caveat. I haven't been shopping for elements for the past month or so, since I've had a bunch of mini-projects (includin...

    see more »

    Yeah I'd have much preferred acrylic, but I chose wood instead since getting accurate and clean cuts is tough with the tools to my disposal (and wood is much easier to refine). I am at least using acrylic for the windows, though I need to buy a new panel for one of the segments since it has a crack in it. My display is compact and portable though - whenever I move to a new place, dealing with each of the samples would be a real tedious process, but these boxes make that much easier. Your display is much nicer looking than mine.Anyway, according to my research, 89 elements are actually legally collectible (at least in most countries), with neptunium being a sort of caveat. I haven't been shopping for elements for the past month or so, since I've had a bunch of mini-projects (including building the display) to get out of the way, but I'll likely start looking again. Most of the lanthanides are likely never to be found in household items so I might look for some of those next.I'm open to trading but I'm not sure I have enough of anything to send to you. Out of curiosity though, where are you from? I personally am from Massachusetts, US. Trading might not be worth it if you're too far away.Since my last message, I *think* I got some tantalum samples. There sure wasn't much, though. These capacitors are a lot more rare than I thought. Germanium diodes I already knew weren't commonly found in PC hardware, go I got none from that. I also found this old defective smoke detector, and took the americium sample from that.

    View Instructable »
  • Start an Element Collection - How to Find Samples in Everyday Places

    I did see your step 12, but I'm interested specifically in flash bulbs that contain hydrogen. It's difficult to prove what does and doesn't. I don't have a zirconium sample, though.I suspect my collection will also take roughly a decade. I forget if I mentioned this, but I've been putting together a spreadsheet of each element and where I got them from (or where I could get them). Seems to me about 1/3 of the elements can be acquired via "everyday products", but maybe only a dozen of those elements can be found in their pure form or in a decent quantity.Potash is pretty effortless to make. I made it by taking firewood ash, pouring some water in it, and let it settle for about a full day. Then, drain as much stuff that isn't settled at the bottom as you can. Let the rest...

    see more »

    I did see your step 12, but I'm interested specifically in flash bulbs that contain hydrogen. It's difficult to prove what does and doesn't. I don't have a zirconium sample, though.I suspect my collection will also take roughly a decade. I forget if I mentioned this, but I've been putting together a spreadsheet of each element and where I got them from (or where I could get them). Seems to me about 1/3 of the elements can be acquired via "everyday products", but maybe only a dozen of those elements can be found in their pure form or in a decent quantity.Potash is pretty effortless to make. I made it by taking firewood ash, pouring some water in it, and let it settle for about a full day. Then, drain as much stuff that isn't settled at the bottom as you can. Let the rest of the water fully evaporate, and you'll be left with a crumbly brick. It's a very impure sample for potassium, but at least it is entirely free.Thanks for the info about titanium. I had a feeling that most of it was going to be an alloy, so if it's more than 95% pure, I'd be satisfied with that. The main reason I'd rather wait for titanium is because it is possible to encounter it "in the wild", when the vast majority of the elements can't be. That being said, if I am going to buy a sample, I either want it to be 99.9% pure, or, a sample that I will probably never encounter in daily life. So, titanium unfortunately takes a back seat on my "to buy" list. For the record, there are some elements that I'll probably buy in a mixed form (such as an alloy or ore) since some are either way too expensive or too dangerous (or both) to buy pure. Like cesium - I think that costs something like $100 for 1g. Screw that, I'll probably just get one of the luminescent rocks that it is found in.I can't seem to open the link to your display, but I am definitely interested in seeing it. I actually just yesterday bought some materials and parts to build my own display. I intend to do 3x 1x1 foot grids with 6x6 squares. Each square is 2x2x2 inches. I'll have magnetic strips on the sides of each grid, so they can snap together. This helps make the table more portable and compact, and ready for storage. I'll follow as much of the structure of the periodic table as I can. The lanthanides I'll position on row 1, group 3 and extend to group 16 (lanthanum I'll keep in row 6, group 3). Of all of row 7, only four of those elements can be acquired legally, so, I'll just clump them together on row 2 between groups 4 and 11. Sure, it's a little inaccurate, but this I found would be the most compact arrangement.Seems your M.O. is pretty much the same as mine. For the gasses, if you can manage to get a spectrometer for cheap, then they are definitely worth getting. Most of the noble gasses (and hydrogen) are used in lamps though, and the lamps give off slightly different colors. All of the vaporized halogens are colored. That just leaves oxygen and nitrogen as the especially boring elements, but, they're also very cheap.I've got tantalum and germanium prioritized to extract next. I just got a bunch of power supplies that should have tantalum in them, it's just going to be a tedious process to get to it. I ought to have a modest size sample by the time I get through all of them though.

    View Instructable »
  • Start an Element Collection - How to Find Samples in Everyday Places

    I just got started on my collection earlier this month, so I've still got a long way to go. But, I have around 20 elements so far, though about half of them are "impure" and are just placeholders until I can get good samples. For example, my silicon sample is just a piece of broken glass (silicon dioxide).Most cheap incandescent bulbs are, from what I heard, 5% nitrogen and 95% argon. Due to its abundance, weight, and un-reactivity, argon is relatively cheap, so that percentage doesn't surprise me. From what I heard, there is no such thing as a 100% argon lamp. IIRC, the nitrogen is used to prevent the electricity from arcing. If you want pure argon, you can get small ampoules of it on ebay for pretty cheap.I've had the same question about cobalt glass. To my understand...

    see more »

    I just got started on my collection earlier this month, so I've still got a long way to go. But, I have around 20 elements so far, though about half of them are "impure" and are just placeholders until I can get good samples. For example, my silicon sample is just a piece of broken glass (silicon dioxide).Most cheap incandescent bulbs are, from what I heard, 5% nitrogen and 95% argon. Due to its abundance, weight, and un-reactivity, argon is relatively cheap, so that percentage doesn't surprise me. From what I heard, there is no such thing as a 100% argon lamp. IIRC, the nitrogen is used to prevent the electricity from arcing. If you want pure argon, you can get small ampoules of it on ebay for pretty cheap.I've had the same question about cobalt glass. To my understanding, real cobalt glass is a very deep vivid blue, and tends to be darker and less purple than other blue glasses. That being said, I think the only way to *know* is if you have the original packaging, or, to compare to other glasses. But, thanks a lot for bringing up Bud Light Platinum! I just looked into it and apparently, it does have cobalt:http://www.brandpackaging.com/articles/83606-bud-l...I'm not much of a fan of Budweiser, but I might have to get a 6-pack of these if it means I can get my cobalt source.I'm not sure how to separate the cadmium either. It's a pretty dangerous metal so it likely isn't worth isolating at home anyway. Same goes for elements like sodium or phosphorus - it's not all that difficult to isolate them, but good luck figuring out how to store them once you do.My mistake, I think you're right - osmium is in old-fashioned fountain pens, not ball-point. If it is found in ball-point pens, it wouldn't be anything made within the past 50 years.I'm not sure what the purity is of park plug iridium (it's likely mixed with platinum to help make it cheaper, ironically) but I'm pretty sure you'll never have the opportunity to encounter pure iridium anywhere else unless you buy it straight from a source, in which case get ready to empty your wallet. Some of the other platinum group metals can also be found in catalytic converters, though they too would be mixed in with other metals to be made cheaper. You could probably try finding them at random junkyards and look up the part numbers to see if it you can find exactly what they're made of.Anyway, as you're probably aware, there are a lot of elements I will likely never encounter in useful quantities (if at all), such as most of the lanthanides. These elements I intend to just buy out-right. Many of the lanthanides are phosphorescent or fluorescent, so in order to get cheap samples, I might just buy the ores, shine a black light on them, and marvel at the colors of the true metal in the ores.

    What kind of flash bulb is it? I don't have hydrogen yet and I'm aware some older one-use camera flash bulbs contain hydrogen.I use 1x1.5" clear plastic cylindrical containers to store my elements (I want my table to be compact, organized, and tidy) so I'm a bit limited by the samples I could use. As you could imagine, this made getting xenon and neon samples a challenge, since lamps for them tend to be pretty big. But, I got them for around $2 each. You can get small neon samples from electrican's outlet testers (something I didn't find out until after I got the bulb).I'm personally ok with using elements bonded with hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and in some cases iron if the element is too reactive or dangerous for me to isolate by itself. For example, I'm currently making some...

    see more »

    What kind of flash bulb is it? I don't have hydrogen yet and I'm aware some older one-use camera flash bulbs contain hydrogen.I use 1x1.5" clear plastic cylindrical containers to store my elements (I want my table to be compact, organized, and tidy) so I'm a bit limited by the samples I could use. As you could imagine, this made getting xenon and neon samples a challenge, since lamps for them tend to be pretty big. But, I got them for around $2 each. You can get small neon samples from electrican's outlet testers (something I didn't find out until after I got the bulb).I'm personally ok with using elements bonded with hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and in some cases iron if the element is too reactive or dangerous for me to isolate by itself. For example, I'm currently making some potash for my potassium sample. Buying an ampoule of pure potassium might not fit in my containers, and breaking open the vial might be a decision I'll regret if I'm not careful.I don't mean to disappoint you, but in case you're not aware, what you got on ebay is a titanium alloy. It isn't pure Ti (which is probably explains the low cost), if that's something you care about. I would be fine with that sample - seems great to me. I'm personally going to wait on getting Ti, because it is relatively common in everyday use, though less so in metallic form.But yeah, I don't blame you for not wanting to ruin good stuff. On the note of elements found in golf clubs though - scandium is often used for golf clubs too.Anyway, if you want pure metals but don't want to use blow torches or strong acids, there is a slightly less dangerous option: in case you're not aware, amalgamation is synonymous with mercury. Mercury amaglams with almost every metal (except iron and one other, I forget which - maybe iridium?) and has been used in ancient times to isolate metals. I hear once the target metal is "consumed" by the mercury, you can use stuff like nitric acid (nothing too crazy) to separate them. I've been considering doing this to get gold from junked computer PCBs. I work in IT, and I do computer work for people on the side, so I've got a lot of junked parts. I'm hoping to get stuff like germanium and tellurium out of some of these parts, too, but obviously I won't get much. Just be sure to use the mercury in a ventillated area, and, don't use methylmercury unless you have a death wish.

    View Instructable »
  • Start an Element Collection - How to Find Samples in Everyday Places

    Great write-up. I was looking for some inspiration and you pointed me in some useful directions. I have a few I can offer you:Oxygen you can get through hydrogen peroxide (cheap and easy to get at pharmacies). When exposed to UV rays (like the sun) it forms O2 and water.Silicon you can also get from glass. It's not pure silicon, but it's an easy-to-get sample.Argon you can find in most cheap incandescent light bulbs.Cobalt you can get from that very deep blue glass.Bromine is found in some pool cleaners and car highbeam halogen lamps.Krypton can be found in very small light bulbs, like from flash lights or car license plate lamps.Cadmium can be found in cheap rechargeable batteries, particularly ones like in electric toothbrushes.Osmium I hear can be found in old ball-point pens (in...

    see more »

    Great write-up. I was looking for some inspiration and you pointed me in some useful directions. I have a few I can offer you:Oxygen you can get through hydrogen peroxide (cheap and easy to get at pharmacies). When exposed to UV rays (like the sun) it forms O2 and water.Silicon you can also get from glass. It's not pure silicon, but it's an easy-to-get sample.Argon you can find in most cheap incandescent light bulbs.Cobalt you can get from that very deep blue glass.Bromine is found in some pool cleaners and car highbeam halogen lamps.Krypton can be found in very small light bulbs, like from flash lights or car license plate lamps.Cadmium can be found in cheap rechargeable batteries, particularly ones like in electric toothbrushes.Osmium I hear can be found in old ball-point pens (in the ball point itself).Iridium, like platinum, is also found in some car spark plugs.Radium can be found in old glow-in-the-dark clocks or other painted objects.

    View Instructable »