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Chemistry FAQ



Frequently Asked Questions about Chemistry.

This FAQ about Chemistry was compiled and written by Bruce Hamilton B.Hamilton@irl.cri.nz with numerous contributions by others.

Dedication

This FAQ is dedicated to the memory of the late Larry Lippman, who departed from this group ( and life ) in 1991. His superb posts on a wide range of chemical topics were both informative and entertaining. He established the sci.chem tradition of friendly, authoritative, and accurate answers to many chemistry-related questions.

-5.1 What topics does sci.chem cover?
Sci.chem is an unmoderated discussion group, and it covers the discussion ...
-5.2 What guidelines are available about posting to sci.chem?
Sci.chem is a discussion group, not an alternative to your nearest library....
-5.3 Should I post my homework question? (sci.chem)
In general, definitely not. Your homework question is designed to ...
-5.4 Should I answer an obvious homework question? (sci.chem)
In general, definitely not. Teachers will set homework assignments ...
-5.5 I'm offering or seeking employment. Can I post here? (sci.chem)
Sci.chem is the most popular chemistry-related group, and thus would ...
-5.6 Can I post here if my newsfeed doesn't include the correct group? (sci.chem)
No. The onus is on you to obtain access to the correct group. As hard ...
-5.7 Can I post here if my library doesn't have the specified reference? (sci.chem)
No. Once again the onus is on you to obtain the texts. We have tried ...
-5.8 Can I post articles I found in Usenet or on the Internet? (sci.chem)
No. Most countries have signed the Berne Convention, and adjusted ...
-5.9 Should I post the email address of an expert I found? (sci.chem)
Not without their consent. Email the expert and ask if you can identify ...
-5.10 Should I post corporate advertising material? (sci.chem)
No. Sci.chem is a discussion group. However, if your corporate material ...
-5.11 Should I state why I require the requested information? (sci.chem)
Generally, yes. Knowing why somebody is requesting information often ...
-5.12 What other chemistry-focused newsgroups exist?
Sci.chem is the most popular group covering diverse chemistry topics....
-5.13 What questions are best answered elsewhere in Usenet? (sci.chem)
a. Anything concerning Usenet and Internet abuse, guidelines or behaviour....
-5.14 Why is the sci.chem. hierarchy not rational?
As the sci.chem group has up to 80 posts/day, some specialists believe ...
-5.15 How do I create a sub-group for my pet topic? (sci.chem)
First of all, discuss your idea extensively in sci.chem and other ...
-5.16 Where are the sci.chem archives?
Given the nature, number, and diversity of sci.chem posts, no formal ...
-5.17 Who was Larry Lippman? (sci.chem)
When sci.chem was formed (1988?), there were only a few posts per week, ...
-6.1 Abbreviations used in this FAQ and sci.chem
ACGIH = American Conference of Governmental Industrial ...
-6.2 Common Terms used in this FAQ (sci.chem)
These terms apply to well-known reference texts. Note that those with a * ...
-6.3 References
[1] Beilstein's Handbuch der Organischen Chemie - 4th ...
-7. General Chemistry-related Information on the Internet
Compiled by: Neil Flatter ...
-7.1 How can I access databases such as Chemical Abstracts?
These databases are almost all inevitably commercial, it costs ...
-7.2 What chemistry-related material is on the WWW?
-7.3 What information is available commercially on-line? (Chemistry)
As well as the database suppliers such as Knight-Ridder's Dialog ( and ...
-7.4 What information is available free on-line? (Chemistry)
The best technique is to use a WWW search engine to locate ...
-7.5 What chemical patent information is available on-line?
Both Dialog and STN offer commercial access to US and International ...
-7.6 Which FTP sites contain chemistry-related material?
ftp://kekule.osc.edu/pub/chemistry/...
-7.7 What chemistry-focused mailing lists exist?
LISTSERV@Beaver.Bemidji.MSUS.edu ...
-7.8 How can I contact Chemical Societies electronically?
In general, most WWW sites will also contain email addresses that ...
-7.9 How can I contact large chemical companies?
-7.10 How can I contact chemical suppliers?
Several major chemical suppliers now have on-line catalogues on the WWW....
-7.11 How can I contact equipment suppliers (Chemistry)
Check out the FAQs in rec.pyrotechnics and alt.drugs, they may also list ...
-7.12 How can I contact US government agencies? (Chemistry)
http://www.fedworld.gov/...
-7.13 Where can I find compilations of science humour?
http://www.improb.com/...
-7.14 Where can I purchase scientific software?
Aldrich and Fisher sell software, as do some of the Chemical ...
-7.15 References
-8. Laboratory and Chemical Safety Information on the Internet
Compiled by: Neil Flatter ...
-8.1 Where can I find Material Safety Data Sheets? (Chemical Safety)
Manufacturers are required by OSHA to provide MSDSs for the chemicals they ...
-8.2 Where can I find detailed safety & toxicity data? (Chemical Safety)
http://hazard.com/msds/...
-8.3 Where can I find occupational exposure limits? (Chemical Safety)
http://www.acgih.org/...
-8.4 Where can I find hazard information for a chemical?
In general, the first contact should be the safety professional at ...
-8.5 Where can I find laboratory safety guides? (Chemical Safety)
http://www.christie.ab.ca/safelist/ ...
-8.6 Where can I find other safety information? (Chemical Safety)
Many of the Chemistry Overview WWW sites in Section 7.2 also have ...
-9.1 When can I find Chemical Abstracts?
Chemical Abstracts is produced by the ACS and is available either in ...
-9.2 Where can I obtain chemical patent information?
Most governments have a patent office, and there are usually branches in ...
-9.3 Where can I purchase chemicals?
The chemicals usually found in home chemistry sets can usually be ...
-9.4 Where can I purchase laboratory equipment? (Chemistry)
As with chemicals, simple laboratory equipment can be purchased from ...
-9.5 What reference texts should I search first? (Chemistry)
If you require basic physical information about a chemical then many ...
-9.6 Where can I find physical and spectral properties of chemicals?
Some chemical suppliers catalogues ( eg Aldrich [5] ), also include ...
-9.7 Where can I find production data for commercial chemicals
Both Kirk Othmer and Ullmann tabulate production data, and ...
-9.8 Where can I find the composition of a proprietary chemical?
If it has been patented, the composition will be detailed in the patent,...
-9.9 Where can I find out about the history of Chemistry?
There is a soc.history.science Usenet group that is very knowledgeable ...
-9.10 Where can I find out about the discovery of an element?
The Rubber Handbook has a monograph on each element, including a ...
-9.11 What inspirational books about chemistry should I read?
Do they exist :-)? You could try The Chemical Bond: Structure and ...
-9.12 References
-10.1 Where can I find Material Safety Data Sheets? (Chemistry)
Most suppliers of chemicals will provide a MSDS on request if you are ...
-10.2 Where can I find hazard information for a chemical?
Chemical suppliers usually include common hazard information in ...
-10.3 Where can I find detailed safety & toxicity data? (Chemical Safety)
The very first question you should ask is, Am I qualified to ...
-10.3 Where can I find occupational exposure limits? (Chemical Safety)
There are several organisations responsible for establishing ...
-10.5 What is the most poisonous compound? (Chemical Safety)
All substances are poisons. There is not one that is not a poison. The ...
-10.6 Where can I find laboratory safety guides? (Chemical Safety)
The journals Chemical Health and Safety, and Journal of Chemical ...
-10.7 Are contact lenses a hazard in laboratories? (Chemical Safety)
There are a lot of myths about the occupational use of contact lenses, ...
-10.8 References
-11.1 Where can I find spectral libraries/databases?
The most likely place is near to an instrument. These are not ...
-11.2 Where can I find polymer chemistry information?
The first stop should be the multi-volume Encyclopedia of Polymer Science ...
-11.3 Where can I find analytical chemistry information?
There is a sci.chem.analytical group where specific questions can ...
-11.4 Where can I find environmental chemistry information?
There are several standard texts used by environmental chemistry classes ...
-11.5 Where can I find physical chemistry information?
General introductory information will be available in any technical ...
-11.6 Where can I find inorganic chemistry information?
General introductory information will be available in any technical ...
-11.7 Where can I find organic chemistry information?
General introductory information will be available in any technical ...
-11.8 Where can I find industrial chemistry information?
The best single volume remains Shreve's Chemical Process Industries [52]....
-11.9 Where can I find pharmaceutical chemistry information?
Pharmaceutical research often is initially reported in patent literature,...
-11.10 References
-12.1 What are CAS Registry Numbers? (Chemistry)
When chemicals are first encountered by the Chemical Abstracts Service, ...
-12.2 What are the correct names of recently-discovered elements? (Chemistry)
The Transfermium Working Group was established in 1986 by the International ...
-12.3 What is the nomenclature system for CFCs/HCFCs/HFCs? (Chemistry)
The CFC naming system was developed by T.Midgley,Jr. and A.L.Henne in 1929, ...
-12.4 How can I get the IUPAC chemical name from traditional names?
It depends. Usually the quickest way is to look the name up in a ...
-12.5 What does "omega-3 fatty acids" mean?
Chemists recognise that they should always number carbon chains from the ...
-12.6 What is Conjugated Linoleic Acid?
Conjugated linoleic acid describes the group of positional and ...
-12.7 What are "heavy" metals? (Chemistry)
There appears to be no standard definition, however the general ...
-12.8 What is the difference between Molarity and Normality? (Chemistry)
A Molar solution contains one gram molecular weight ( aka mole ) of the ...
-12.9 Where can I find the composition of common named reagents? (Chemistry)
Often the best place to start are MSDS sheets or catalogues from commercial ...
-12.10 References
-13. Illicit and Government Controlled Substances (Chemistry)
Contributed by : Yogi Shan ...
-13.2 Where can I obtain a list of illegal drugs? (Chemistry)
From the Law Section of the alt.drugs Clandestine Chemistry Primer/...
-13.3 What is the chemical structure of common illegal drugs?
See the Merck Index for the chemical structure of your favourite poison. ...
-13.4 How do I obtain chemical information on illegal drugs?
Merck, Heilbron and Beilstein all provide information on drugs that ...
-13.5 Where are the synthesis instructions for illegal drugs?
By asking the question in sci.chem, you already have signalled your level ...
-13.6 Should I post detailed recipes for illegal chemicals?
Well, if you do a lot of people will hate you. On the other hand many people ...
-13.7 What newsgroups/mailing lists discuss explosives?
Rec.pyrotechnics and alt.engr.explosives are two newsgroups that discuss ...
-13.8 What is the chemical structure of common explosives?
Exothermic oxidation-reduction reactions are the source of energy, and ...
-13.9 How do I obtain chemical information on common explosives?
There is an excellent, well-referenced Explosives and Propellants monograph ...
-13.10 What newsgroups/mailing lists discuss pyrotechnics?
rec.pyrotechnics is the official newsgroup for fireworks/...
-13.11 References
[1] The Sassafras Tree and Designer Drugs - From Herbal Tea to Ecstasy....
-14.1 Where do I find information on US courses? (Chemistry)
The advent of the WWW has meant that many educational institutions now have ...
-14.2 Where do I find information on other nations' courses? (Chemistry)
Once again, try using the WWW, as many educational institutions worldwide ...
-15.1 Are there any good compilations of demonstrations? (Chemistry)
Yes. Good places to start are the four volume Chemical ...
-15.2 What are good outdoor/indoor chemistry demonstrations? p6
From:webbb@mbf.UUCP ( Bryan Webb )...
-15.2 What are good outdoor/indoor chemistry demonstrations? p6
From:webbb@mbf.UUCP ( Bryan Webb )...
-15.2 What are good outdoor/indoor chemistry demonstrations? p6
From:webbb@mbf.UUCP ( Bryan Webb )...
-15.2 What are good outdoor/indoor chemistry demonstrations? p6
From:webbb@mbf.UUCP ( Bryan Webb )...
-15.2 What are good outdoor/indoor chemistry demonstrations? p6
From:webbb@mbf.UUCP ( Bryan Webb )...
-15.2 What are good outdoor/indoor chemistry demonstrations? p6
From:webbb@mbf.UUCP ( Bryan Webb )...
-15.2 What are good outdoor/indoor chemistry demonstrations? p6
From:webbb@mbf.UUCP ( Bryan Webb )...
-15.6 How do I safely perform the Glowing Pickle experiment?
This experiment consists of electrically heating a vegetable that has been ...
-15.7 How do I make Slime? (Chemistry)
Slime is a trademarked commodity obtained by cross-linking guar gum and ...
-15.8 References
-16.1 What are the best drying agents for liquids and gases? (Chemistry)
The Rubber Handbook lists the traditional information on drying ...
-16.2 What is the effect of oven drying on volumetric glassware? (Chemistry)
Many older laboratory texts insist that volumetric glassware should ...
-16.3 What does the Karl Fischer titration measure?
In 1935 Karl Fischer used the reaction between iodine, sulfur dioxide, and ...
-16.4 What does the Dean and Stark distillation measure?
The Dean and Stark procedure can be used to measure the water content ...
-16.5 What does Kjeldahl nitrogen measure?
The Kjeldahl procedure is routinely used to measure the protein nitrogen ...
-16.6 What does a Soxhlet extractor do?
The soxhlet extractor enables solids to be extracted with fresh warm solvent ...
-16.7 What is the best method for cleaning glassware? (Chemistry)
As scientific glassware can be used for a variety of purposes, from ...
-16.8 References
[1] Desiccant Efficiency in Solvent Drying. A Reappraisal ...
-17.1 Where do I find laboratory-scale procedures for organics? (Chemistry)
The best introductory handbooks are practical textbooks, eg Organic Vogel ...
-17.2 Where do I find laboratory-scale procedures for inorganics? (Chemistry)
Most synthetic chemistry of inorganics appears to be devoted more to complex ...
-17.3 Where do I find industrial chemical process details?
The standard text for common processes remains Shreve, and I must admit that ...
-17.4 References
[1] Purification of Laboratory Chemicals - 4th ...
-18.1 How do light sticks work?, and how can I make one?
From: perks@umbc.edu (Mark Perks) Date: 15 Sep 1994 ...
-18.2 How do hand warmers work?, and how can I make one?
They consist of an aqueous solution of sodium acetate with a small ...
-18.3 What are the chemicals that give fruity aromas?
Most of the desirable food aromas come from low to medium molecular ...
-18.4 What is the most obnoxious smelling compound? (Chemistry)
Many low molecular weight sulfur-containing compounds tend to induce ...
-18.5 What is the nicest smelling compound? (Chemistry)
Aside from thinking about your stomach, when the smell of cooking ...
-18.6 What is the most bitter compound? (Chemistry)
Denatonium Benzoate = Bitrex, or even in some strange chemistry circles,...
-18.7 What is the sweetest compound? (Chemistry)
Most scales use sucrose as a sweetness of 1, and compare the ...
-18.8 What salts change the colour of flames?
Both Vogel ( qualitative inorganic ) and the Rubber Handbook list details of ...
-18.9 What chemicals change colour with heat, light, or pressure?
Compounds that visibly and reversibly change colour when subjected to a ...
-18.10 References
[1] Refer 15....
-19.1 Rheological properties and terminology (Chemistry)
Contributed by Jim ...
-19.2 Flammability properties and terminology
There are several properties of flammable materials that are ...
-19.3 Supercritical properties and terminology?
Supercritical fluids have some very unusual properties. When a compound ...
-19.4 Formation of gaseous bubbles in liquids
Discussions about the behaviour of dissolved gases in liquids, especially ...
-19.5 Why is Mercury a liquid at room temperature?
First, let's look at the melting points of some of the elements ...
-19.6 References
-20.1 Refractive Index properties and terminology
When light passes between media of different density, the direction of ...
-20.2 Polarimetry properties and terminology
Supplied by: Vince Hamner ...
-20.3 References
-21.1 What hardware do I need to run modelling programs? (Molecular and Structural Modelling)
Supplied by: Dave Young (young@slater.cem.msu.edu)...
-21.2 Where can I find a free modelling program? (Molecular and Structural Modelling)
The single best place for public domain modelling ...
-21.4 Where can I find ChemDraw or ChemWindows
For ChemDraw (Macintosh, Windows, UNIX)...
-23. Chromatographic Techniques
There are chromatography mailing lists and WWW sites available that provide ...
-23.1 What is Paper Chromatography?
Paper chromatography was the first analytical chromatographic technique ...
-23.2 What is Thin Layer Chromatography?
Thin layer chromatography involves the use of a particulate sorbant on ...
-23.3 What is Gas Chromatography?
Gas chromatography is the use of a carrier gas to convey the sample ( as ...
-23.4 What is Column Chromatography?
Column chromatography consists of a column of particulate material such as ...
-23.5 What is High Pressure Liquid Chromatography?
HPLC is a development of column chromatography. it was long realised ...
-23.6 What is Ion Chromatography?
Ion chromatography has become the method of choice for measuring anions ...
-23.7 What is Gel Permeation Chromatography?
Gel Permeation chromatography ( aka Size Exclusion chromatography ) is based ...
-23.8 What is Capillary Electrophoresis?
Capillary electrophoresis uses a small fused silica capillary that has ...
-23.9 How do I degas chromatographic solvents?
One major problem with pressurising chromatography systems using liquid ...
-23.10 What is chromatographic solvent "polarity"?
There are four major intermolecular interactions between sample and solvent ...
-23.11 References
[1] Laboratory Handbook of Chromatographic and Electrophoretic Methods ...
-24.1 What is Solvent Extraction?
Solvent extraction is usually used to recover a component from either a ...
-24.2 What is Solid Phase Extraction?
Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) is an alternative to liquid/liquid extraction,...
-24.3 What is Supercritical Fluid Extraction?
Refer to Section 19.3 for some critical data on common supercritical fluids. ...
-24.4 What traditional process extracted perfume from flower petals?
The traditional cold-fat extraction process is known as enfleurage. ...
-24.5 References
-26.1 What is pH?
The pH scale determines the degree of acidity or alkalinity of a solution,...
-26.2 How do pH electrodes work?
Contributed by Paul Willems , and slightly modified ...
-26.3 What are ion-selective electrodes?
Ion selective electrodes are electrochemical sensors whose potential ...
-26.4 Who supplies pH and ion-selective electrodes?
The best known manufacturer of ion-selective electrodes is Orion Research. ...
-26.5 References
-27.1 Where does crude oil come from?
The generally-accepted origin of crude oil is from plant life up to 3 ...
-27.2 What are CNG/LPG/gasoline/kerosine/diesel?
Crude oil consists mainly of hydrocarbons with carbon numbers between one ...
-27.3 What are oxygenates?
Oxygenates are just pre-used hydrocarbons :-). They contain oxygen, which can ...
-27.4 What is petroleum ether?
Petroleum ether ( aka petroleum spirits ) is a narrow alkane ...
-27.5 What is naphtha?
Naphtha is a refined light distillate fraction, usually boiling below 250C,...
-27.6 What are white spirits?
White spirits are petroleum fractions that boil between 150-220C. They can ...
-27.7 What are biofuels?
Biofuels are produced from biomass ( land and aquatic vegetation, ...
-27.8 How can I convert cooking oil into diesel fuel?
Diesel engines can run on plant and animal triglycerides such as ...
-27.9 References
[1] Modern Petroleum Technology - 5th edition....
-28.1 Does Thalidomide racemise in humans?
Thalidomide ( N-phthaloyl-alpha-aminoglutarimide ) is well known as an ...
-30.1 How can I simply identify common plastics?
Read the recycle code :-). Alternatively, give it to the nearest IR ...
-30.2 What do the plastics recycling codes mean?
The recycle codes for plastics are currently being reviewed, and new ...
-31.1 How does remote sensing of chemical pollutants work?
The are several techniques, but the one of most interest to the public is ...
-31.2 How does a Lava Lamp work?
Contributed by: Jim Webb ...
-31.3 How do I make a Lava Lamp?
Contributed by: Jim Webb ...
-31.4 What is Goretex?
Goretex is a dispersion-polymerised PTFE that is patented by W.L.Gore ...
-31.5 What causes an automobile airbag to inflate?
The final cause is the production of nitrogen from 10s of grams of ...
-31.6 How hazardous is spilt mercury?
First step - ensure any broken thermometer actually contained mercury, as ...
-31.7 Did molasses really kill 21 people in Boston?
From: mica@world.std.com (mitchell swartz) Date: Sun, 4 Jul ...
-31.8 What is the active ingredient in mothballs?
Mothballs were originally made from camphor ( C10H16O, [76-22-2], MP 176C,...
-31.9 Is vinegar just acetic acid?
Most countries have food regulations that permit the use of acetic acid as ...
-31.10 What are the different grades of laboratory water?
There are several techniques used in chemical laboratories to obtain ...
-31.11 What is Sarin nerve gas?
Sarin is a nerve gas that was used in 1988 by Iraq against its Kurdish ...
-31.12 What are Dioxins?
Dioxins are a group of closely-related compounds which are known ...
-31.13 What is Red Mercury?
Red mercury is supposed to be a very powerful explosive that is being made ...
-31.14 How do I remove stains and deposits?
- Test any planned treatment on an unimportant part of the material first,...
-31.15 How do I remove rust?
It depends on the sample and amount of rust. If the material is heavily ...
-31.16 How do I remove silver tarnish?
Several commercial silver polishes use a fine abrasive ( such as calcium ...
-31.17 How do I electroplate or anodise materials?
There are several excellent books and journals on metal treatments in ...
-31.18 How fast do solvents pass through human skin?
It obviously depends on the solvents, and traditional measurements ...
-31.19 What is the pH of Coca-cola?
Phosphoric acid is an approved food-grade acid that is added to Coca-cola ...
-31.20 References (Chemistry)
[1] IR Long-Path Photometry: A Remote Sensing Tool for Automobile ...









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