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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Hi Whackjobb,

Like Jdurg I also collect elements, although unlike Jdurg I have long since lost my self control and have now spent in excess of $10,000 - And I havn't even got any gasses yet - except my own gas when I open my credit card statement every month ;-)

The following suggestions are all relatively inexpensive and
generally safe, although please do your own research on hazards.

S Block:
The only truely safe sample you could hope to get here is solid Magnesium. You can usually find it on Ebay but your school lab supplier may be cheaper.

Calcium would be borderline as it does react with water and causes irritation when handled (with dry hands). Don't get ripped off here as 100g of granules is only about £10 from a chem company.

Lithium is very hard to store safely as it floats on oil. Na and K catch fire if wet, Rb and Cs Catch fire if exposed to air. I keep my K, Rb and Cs in a locked cupboard in the garden shed!

Beryllium is toxic, Strontium and Barium cost me lots of money - Both are very reactive so you may want to avoid. I love them because they are the red and green of fireworks.

P Block:

Aluminium is easy, Ourhousecat cut me a superb 1Kg ingot (99.5%) for about £16 including P&P. http://feedback.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewFeedback&userid=our-housecat&iid=6530429498&frm=284

Al foil is almost cost free of course.

Silicon is well worth getting hold of as it looks superb. It took a bit of hunting down but eventually I found a 1Kg lot for £20, and at 99.99% it is pure enough to give you the nice glassy translucent look. This is the "must have" semi metal.

Sulfur is cheap and colourful, don't over do the quantity on display as it given off toxic gas in the event of a fire.

Gallium melts at 29C and is interesting. It is not very toxic but if you touch it it melts and goes everywhere! A very small blob (10mg) on your finger is capable of coating your entire arm in a grey sheen. As a friend said to me, I was in my element - Water doesn't remove it as it mixes with the oil of the skin, but soap did the trick - luckily.

Indium is my choice over gallium, expect to pay about 50p a gram. - Note this is not completely non-toxic - don't eat the stuff!

Germanium is expensive and probably too similar to Silicon to be included - I got very lucky here, buying 200g for £140.

Tin is quite cool. Ourhousecat does nice little ingots, I spalshed out on two 1Kg ingots from our sponser www.advent-rm.com £90 or so, but fantastic heavy bars!! - If only I had a matching rhodium one ;-)

Antimony is toxic, but also beautiful. Again ourhousecat should be able to sort you out with a 100g 99.65% glittering chuck for £5-10.

Lead is viable in solid metal form, but may be against school regulations so please check, Lead is nothing like as dense as Tungsten, which would be my choice for density. Lead oxidises and the oxide is soft, I found it under my fingernails for example, so wearing gloves is reccomended!

Bismuth, yet again ourhousecat sold me 500g for about £20. That's a fantastic price for 99.99%.

Carbon is available as soot, graphite powder, graphite sheet and (uncut diamond and fullerenes if your feeling loaded).

Avoid: Amorphous (brown) boron - Flammable, harmful.
Thallium, A*senic, Tellurium, Selenium, Bromine - All very toxic/harmful.

Phosphorus, Red is stable but you run the risk of being watched in case your a drug manufacturer, www.kno3.com does 100g 99% for £20. I havn't had a knock at the door yet so I assume he is discreet.

Iodine - A favourite of mine but dangerous. Try and get a closed ampuoule if you can. May be too risky for your collection.

D Block:

Concentrate on the top row.

Chromium, Manganese, Nickle - ourhousecat
Iron, copper, zinc - Easy, or try www.emovendo.net
cobalt - I got some superb cobalt specimens, the cheapest was 500g of 99.3% flakes for £20 from jarmond brinkley

Titanium can usually be found on Ebay. Don't overpay as it's used a lot and scrap prices are low.

Scandium and Vanadium are expensive - leave for now.

Try and get Yttrium - www.emovendo.net or www.elementsales.com. It is the only "cheap" group 3 element and can stand in as a boost to your rare earths.

Zirconium, Niobium, Molybdenum, Hafnium, Tantalum and Tungsten comprise the so-called Tungsten group. They are all fairly similar, and all quite expensive in decent size form. I have a 1kg cylinder of Tungstem from http://www.element-collection.com/ The others come up in auctions but I like to have nice tactile samples and will spend money to get them, hence my £150 1.5Kg Molybdenum block and my Zirconium crystal bar Etc. Tungsten is the REALY cool one if you can get it.

Rhenium, Ruthenium, Osmium, Rhodium, Iridium, Palladium, Platinum and Gold ate the noble metals. You are talking £6 - £40 a gram here, try getting a gold or palladium foil if you want surface area.

Silver is not expensive - About £5 a troy aounce (31.1g).

Cadmium and Mercury are toxic sadly.

F block

Lanthanides: Try and get just a couple to start with to keep the costs down.
Can I recommend:-

One from: Lanthanum, Cerium, Praseodymium, Neodymium
One from: Gadolinium, Dysprosium, Holmium, Erbium

The former need to be stored under oil, but are not dangerous as such, the latter are practically air stable.
www.emovendo.net and www.elementsales.com both do about 100g of these for £30 ish.


Avoid, as they are all radioactive!

I hope this has been of some help to you,



Thx for responding. Appreciate it.

In the s-block, helium is very safe.

Still working on collection. Thx.

Appreciate you... Are you going to collect element samples?

Yes, trying to get a display set up. I have a lot of projects in the works including building the new school house.

It's great! :P

Hehe. You can never really 'stop' collecting once you've started. You just take momentary 'financial breaks' in between purchases. :D

Beware to store the elements properly, especially for those reactive and radioactive ones.

Of course. Though, I'm not likely to get many radioactive ones.

I'm not sure about the laws of Canada, but in Hong Kong owning uranium is considered as a criminal offence.

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