Obtaining elements.

I have just discovered this site last week, and I must say how impressive and informative it is. Have spent a number of hours here the last three or four days.

I saw via one of the links a rather amazing display of the elements in periodic order that I would give an eye-tooth to have. Unfortunately, what the manufacturers want for this display costs quite a bit more than an eye-tooth. So I was wondering if any knowledgeable members might have an idea where a tutor to a private school might find similar quantities of the elements. I understand that some of these substances might be a bit of a challenge to obtain outside of a project like www.element-collection.com would create. But with proper handling, I would be more than able to construct a safely-contained display of a more modest nature.

I hope this doesn't come in conflict with any intent of the website. Thank you for your response. :)

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I have put together a collection of the elements on my own which can be seen over at [url=http://www.chemicalforums.com]www.chemicalforums.com[/url] on their periodic table, or in the downloads or links section where you can download the actual file. All of my elements were obtained from E-Bay or people I met through E-Bay. A FANTASTIC source of the elements is Dave Hamric over at [url=http://www.elementsales.com]elementsales.com[/url]. He has a ton of elements and is constantly working on ways to provide better samples. The vast majority of my collection is from him, and I'm constantly purchasing upgrades through him. You can get fairly large sized samples for a good price. Other sources are the seller Emovendo on E-Bay, and So-Cal Nevada Inc. on E-Bay. If you want to collect the elements, it's important to remember that having some of them (like cesium, rubidium, bromine, chlorine, etc.) can be like having a loaded gun in your house. It's crucial that you know what you're doing with them and that you safely store them. It's also important to remember that an element collection is not cheap. I've spent well over $3000 on my collection, and will be spending more in the future. The platinum group metals and some of the other elements like scandium and lutetium can cost a fortune to get large samples of. However, it's the PGMs (Platinum, Gold, Palladium, Silver, Ruthenium, Rhodium, Rhenium, Osmium and Iridium) that probably cost the most money in my collection.

Thanks for the info. Much appreciated. I'm still considering whether I want to deal with the alkaline metals and the more toxic gases, etc. This is a private school, with a number of students who are just entering atomic theory in their studies. Where I am confident I can handle each of the non-radioactive elements safely, I have to decide whether I want something line bromine stored in a school, no matter how secure the display may be. These kids are all great students, but ya never know. I was mainly interested in getting the less active metals which are not commonly available in elemental form. Something like crystalized bismuth or a chunk of pure tungsten would be fascinating to the teens.

[quote="whackjobb"]Thanks for the info. Much appreciated. I'm still considering whether I want to deal with the alkaline metals and the more toxic gases, etc. This is a private school, with a number of students who are just entering atomic theory in their studies. Where I am confident I can handle each of the non-radioactive elements safely, I have to decide whether I want something line bromine stored in a school, no matter how secure the display may be. These kids are all great students, but ya never know. I was mainly interested in getting the less active metals which are not commonly available in elemental form. Something like crystalized bismuth or a chunk of pure tungsten would be fascinating to the teens.[/quote]

If these are for use in a school, private or not, thinking you can handle them is not enough. You need to know about the safety legislation in your area.

I am in England, and there are some elements which are illegal to keep in school, others which can only be kept under certain conditions provided you have qualified personel.

Jason

Thanx for the advice. I'll look into the safety regulations in my area before I do anything. Seeing the prices on many of these elements has put a damper on compiling this stuff; at least in the immediate future. Finances are a big issue as with any school. But it doesn't hurt to remain in the planning stages.

Stuff which you can pick up is fun -

a nice block of tungsten is always an eye-opener, for instance - it's so unexpectedly *heavy*

(until someone sues you because they dropped it on their foot... ;-)

[quote="whackjobb"]Thanx for the advice. I'll look into the safety regulations in my area before I do anything. Seeing the prices on many of these elements has put a damper on compiling this stuff; at least in the immediate future. Finances are a big issue as with any school. But it doesn't hurt to remain in the planning stages.[/quote]

You don't say how old the kids at your school are, but as a school you really should have access to the catalogues of educational supply companies, many of these supply elements that can be used in schools at a much better price (and a more sensible quantity) than you'll find from industrial suppliers or e-bay.

There are some exceptions to this, though. I bought a lovely chunk of indium metal from emoveno on ebay. Indium is fun, it's a metal and non-toxic, but its also so soft you can dig holes in it with your fingernails.

If your school works with younger kids, don't even think about getting any alkali metals unless you have proper storage to keep them well away from the kids. Powdered boron should be a big no whatever school you teach in as it's highly toxic. White phosphorous is now banned from schools in the UK. In my experience, the USA has stricter laws than us, so it probably is there as well.

Good luck with it and let us know how you get on.

Jason

The students currently studying reactions are in the eleventh and twelfth grades. I have more coming up next school-year. The more I'm thinking about this, the more I'm resolving to limiting my resources to the less hazardous elements at first. Then possibly, as the school grows, work towards the more-complete display. We are building a two-story school building at present, hoping to have it done by the beginning of the next school year. It should make a decent elements display more practical. But in the meantime, there are plenty of safe-to-handle elements with enough interesting properties and compounds, I could still hold their interest a bit anyway. This is forcing me to think about other ways to make chemistry fun.

Thanks for all the advice. It's appreciated; further comments welcome.
Jim

Some Rhenium and/or Indium would be a good sample to have for multiple reasons. One is that rhenium is very dense and that can be felt in the hand. The other is that 62.6% of all naturally occuring Rhenium is the isotope Re-187. Re-187 is radioactive. However, it's half-life is so long and it's decay energy so pathetically weak that it poses absolutely no risk to anyone or anything. (A decay energy of 0.003 MeV and a half-life of about 50 billion years).

Indium is very neat because like rhenium it's fairly inert to the atmosphere, but unlike rhenium it's not very dense and it's extremely soft. When people say that your fingernails can leave marks in it, they're not kidding. The stuff is almost as soft as clay. Another neat thing is that just like rhenium, it has a radioactive naturally occuring isotope that dominates the percentages. 95.7% of all indium is In-115 which is a radioactive isotope. Once again, however, an exceedingly long half-life of about 440 trillion years a meager decay energy of 0.496 MeV renders it harmless. Still, you can show the students how just because something is 'radioactive' doesn't mean that it's dangerous.

.496 MeV is still a pretty potent photon. Make no mistake, I could care less, as the intensity is really low (loooong half-life), but seeing how doctor X-rays are 20-70 KeV compared to 496 KeV.....you get the picture. Potent photon, just not many of them coming off the sample. :D

A nice chunk of women is definitley an eye opener, and how many of you knew that phosphoros is found in urine? huh? Or did I just totally blow your minds.

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