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List of commonly available chemicals


List of commonly available chemicals 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: • • • • • • •

Metal oxides and carbonates (widely used in pottery) Organic acids (used for home brewing) Solvents and acids (used in cleaning materials and other hardware applications) Photographic chemicals, such as silver nitrate Single-chemical fertilizers, such as potassium nitrate (used in agricultural supply) Chlorinating agents, such as calcium hypochlorite (used in swimming pool and water purification) Mordants, such as potassium dichromate (used in arts and crafts)

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 index A Chemical name

Acetic acid


Chemical formula

Common name

Source and description


5% Solution: White vinegar

Grocery store; "white vinegar"—5%



General; "nail polish remover"

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

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 [2] contain more acetone still. Some stores sell pure acetone as well. Acetylene gas



Hardware store or Welding supply; "acetylene" By reaction of calcium carbide and water.

Acetylsalicylic acid



Pharmacy; "Aspirin"




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


alumina hydrate

General; "antacid tablets"—blended with magnesium hydroxide Antacid Tablets; Alu-cap, Amphojel, Dialume—100% Fine art supply: "thickening agent"

Aluminium oxide



Welding/Industrial supply; "sandblasting sand"—graded sizes of crystals Telescope supply; grinding agent for optical components

List of commonly available chemicals

Aluminium ammonium sulfate


ammonium alum

2 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)2 12H2O

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



NH3(aq); NH4OH

Flocculating Powder

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

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


Ammonium bifluoride


Salt of Hartshorn, Baker's Ammonia

Scandinavian baking ingredient

Ammonium hydrogen fluoride

Hardware store; "toilet bowl cleaner", "rust stain remover"

Must be kept sealed for stability.

Automotive supply; "car body cleaner" General; glass etching (Armour Etch brand)

Ammonium bromide


Photography store/Darkroom; "bleach bath" for photograph development

Ammonium carbonate


Smelling Salts, Salt of Hartshorn, Baker's Ammonia

Grocery/Drug store; "smelling salts" (first-aid section)

Soldering Flux

Hardware store (plumbing); "Salt of Ammon", "Sal Ammoniac" (soldering flux/soldering iron cleaner)

Ammonium chloride


Scandinavian Baking Ingredient Must be kept sealed for stability.

Photography supply; darkroom chemical Ammonium nitrate


Ammonium Nitrate

Garden supply; "Nitrate of Ammonia" (fertilizer)

Ammonium persulfate


Etching Solution, Ammonium Peroxodisulphate

Electronics supply; "circuit board etching solution"

Ammonium phosphate



Garden/Agricultural supply; by name

Ammonium sulfate


Garden/Agricultural supply; fertilizer or pH adjuster for soil




Grocery store; "corn starch"


Extraction from Red Cabbage: Cut, boil, then filter

Argon gas


Welding supply; by name

Grocery/Pharmacy; single-use cold packs

General; inert filler gas inside incandescent light bulbs Ascorbic acid


Vitamin C

General; "Vitamin C tablets"

List of commonly available chemicals


B–C Chemical name

Chemical formula

Common or alternative name

Source and description

barium carbonate


Difficult to find. Sometimes available from pottery and ceramic supply stores.

barium sulfate



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


benzoic acid peroxide

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".



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



The active ingredient in Pepto-bismol and Kaopectate.

boric acid


Ant/Roach Killer

Grocery, drug store, hardware stores; pest control section.

bromthymol blue


pH Test

Aquarium pH test kits often employ bromthymol blue because it changes color in the 6.0–7.6 range.




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.




Grocery or drug store. Often in formulation with corn starch as a binder.

cadmium sulfide


Cadmium Yellow

Fine art supply house. Available as a yellow powder. Sometimes pure, sometimes blended with zinc sulfide to create alternative hues.

calcium carbide


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


Limestone, Carbonate of Lime

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". NBL Blackboard chalk is calcium sulphate, not calcium carbonate.

calcium chloride


Laundry Aid/Road Salt/De-Icer

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


calcium hypochlorite


Slaked Lime, garden lime

Gardening department; used to reduce acidity in soil.

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.

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.

List of commonly available chemicals

calcium nitrate

Ca(NO3)2·4H2O Norwegian saltpeter

calcium oxide CaO

Lime, Quicklime

4 Available from garden supply and agricultural supply stores as a fertilizer.

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).

calcium phosphate, monobasic



Available as a fertilizer from garden supply stores. Also sometimes available as a nutritional supplement at health food stores.

calcium sulfate anhydrous


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


Plaster of Paris

Hardware stores, arts and craft stores, and hobby shops.

calcium sulfate dihydrate



Can be made from the reaction of Plaster of Paris with Water.



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.



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


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


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.


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.



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


Chrome Green

Used as a green pigment for fine art paints. It is available as a powder from most fine art supply stores.

citric acid


Sour Salt

Available at the grocery store as "Sour Salt". Also used for home soap making and also in photographic development.



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.

List of commonly available chemicals

copper naphthenate



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 CuSO4 (anhydrous)

cupric sulfate (anhydrous)

Available from garden supply or pond supply stores as an algaecide and rootkiller.

copper sulfate CuSO25H2O pentahydrate

cupric sulfate, blue vitriol, bluestone

Hardware store; rootkiller (Zep Root Kill, Rooto Root Kill)

cyanuric acid

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".


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

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

D–G Chemical name dextrose

Chemical formula C6H12O6

Common or alternative name glucose, corn syrup

Source and description 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.

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



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.

ethanol/ethyl alcohol



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.



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



Some engine antifreezes are primarily ethylene glycol and can be obtained at an automotive supply store.


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


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".



Fruit Sugar

Easily available from most grocery stores.

List of commonly available chemicals



6 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



Glycerin is an emollient used to soften skin by delaying the evaporation of water. It is available at most drug stores.



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


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.

H–K Chemical name

Chemical formula

Common or alternative name

Source and description



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.




Sold as solid fuel tablets in camping and outdoor stores, in combination with 1,3,5-trioxane.

hydrogen gas



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


Masonry Cleaner, 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


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


Laundry Bleach

Grocery store.



Photography store catering to the at-home darkroom crowd.

List of commonly available chemicals


hydrogen 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.




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 [3] require no permits nor record-keeping.



Steel wool, iron nails, iron bolts, nuts, screws are good sources of iron.

ferric chloride


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 Fe2O3 (Iron III Oxide)


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)



Used as the artists pigment "Mars Black" and can be purchased from fine art supply stores.

iron sulfate


Ferrous sulfate, Sulfate of Available from garden supply stores as a nutrient. Also available as a mordant for iron, Copperas pigments from stores that carry dyeing and textile supplies.


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.

L–N Chemical name

Chemical formula

Common or alternative name

Source and description

lactic acid


Milk Acid

Available from grocery stores and health food stores.



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 shot and lead sinkers are used by fishermen and are available at sporting goods stores. 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. "Boiled linseed oil" contains Lead Oxide (boiled with PbO), which speeds hardening (oxidizing) on contact with oxygen.



Lithium can be obtained from Lithium batteries.



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.


List of commonly available chemicals


magnesium carbonate


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


Milk of Magnesia

Milk of Magnesia is an antacid used to settle sour (acidic) stomachs. Some antacid tablets also contain magnesium hydroxide.

magnesium silicate



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


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


Nigari or Lushui

Asian markets; Nigari, as it's called in Japan, or Lushui, as it's called in China. Used to make tofu from soy milk.

manganese dioxide



Hardware store; available as the black powder in unused alkaline or carbon-zinc batteries. By extensively washing this powder in distilled water you can remove the embedded Zinc Chloride solution.




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. "Ben-Wha" balls at sex toy shops.



Natural Gas

Gas line in many homes.



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.

methyl ethyl ketone



Available from most hardware stores as a solvent.

methyl ethyl ketone peroxide



Available in dilute solution from hardware and boating supply stores as a catalyst for the polymerization of polyester resins.

methyl isobutyl ketone



Available from many hardware stores as a solvent.

methylene blue



Methylene blue (Methidote antiseptic) is used to treat small injured fish and is available at pet stores.

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.

methyl salicylate


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


"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".



moth balls

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

List of commonly available chemicals




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.



liquid nitrogen

Hospital, laboratory, university, welding supply house, and industrial gas supplier can all provide liquid or gaseous nitrogen.

nitrous oxide


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 makes Nitric acid in your lungs so use with good ventilation. (Heating Ammonium Nitrate generates an industrial grade of Nitrous Oxide at the risk of explosion.)

O–P Chemical name

oxalic acid

Chemical formula C2H2O4

Common or alternative name

Source and description

rust remover, non-chlorine bleach powder cleanser

Grocery, drug, hardware stores. "Bar Keeper's Friend".

Portable welding oxygen tanks are available at welding shops and some hardware stores. Can be generated in small quantities from the electrolysis of water.

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.





moth flakes, moth crystals Hardware or grocery store.


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 can be found in small amounts (~1–2%) in analgesic sore throat spray.



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



Used as a pH tester for swimming pools. Available at swimming pool supply stores.

phosphoric acid


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.


casting resin

Hobby shop

polyurethane foam

Mountains in Minutes

Hobby shop, hardware, or building supply store.

potassium aluminium sulfate

KAl(SO4)2·12H2O 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


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.

Cream of Tartar

List of commonly available chemicals


potassium carbonate



Available at some garden supply and agricultural stores.

potassium bromide


Photography store catering to the at-home darkroom crowd.

potassium chloride


Salt substitute

Available as a salt substitute by people who must limit their sodium intake, and is available at most supermarkets. Also available in larger, though slightly less pure, quantities as a road salt de-icer.

potassium chromium sulfate


potassium chrome alum

Photography store catering to the at-home darkroom crowd.

potassium dichromate


Photography store catering to the at-home darkroom crowd. Also used as a mordant ("Chrome Mordant") for textiles and may be available at a dyeing and fabric store.

potassium iron (ii) hexacyanoferrate(iii)


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 hydroxide


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


Radiation Pills

Available sometimes as a photographic development chemical. Also from outdoor/survivalist stores in pill form to avoid the uptake of radioactive iodine during a nuclear accident.

potassium metabisulfite


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


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



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 diseases in fish. Used as ~98% pure powder for treatment of hard well water in water softeners. Potassium Permanganate in a dilute solution form can also be found in certain fish water additive 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 see if there's a brownish coloration/stain. The color of the solution is colored as normal permanganate in solution.

potassium sodium tartrate

NaKC4H4O6 * 4H2O

Rochelle salt

Drug store



Gas barbecue fuel is generally made of propane and is available at many gasoline stations or picnic supply stores.



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.

List of commonly available chemicals


S Chemical name

Chemical formula

Common or alternative name

Source and description

silicon carbide



This hard, abrasive powder is often found sorted by particle size for use in sandblasting and industrial supply houses.

silicon dioxide


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.Wikipedia:Citation needed




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


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



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


Baking Soda, Bicarbonate of Soda

Grocery baking section; "single action baking soda"

disodium phosphate Na2HPO4

pH Down

Found at pet stores and used to lower the pH of aquarium water.

sodium bisulfate


pH Down

Pool supply store. Crystal Vanish drain cleaner.

sodium bromide


Hot Tub Salt

Pool supply store

sodium carbonate


Washing soda, soda ash

Grocery; "Arm & Hammer"

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.

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



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.

List of commonly available chemicals

sodium chloride


12 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


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


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


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



Household bleach is generally a 5% solution of sodium hypochlorite.

sodium nitrate


Chile saltpeter

Garden supply store

sodium metabisulfite


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


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


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


Photography store catering to the at-home darkroom crowd.

sodium sulfate


Photography store catering to the at-home darkroom crowd.

sodium tetraborate decahydrate



Market, drug store; Borax, such as Twenty-Mule-Team Borax Laundry Booster.

sodium thiosulfate



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


candle hardener

Some arts and crafts stores will carry this item. It is used by do-it-yourself candle makers.

List of commonly available chemicals



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




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)



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


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.

T–Z Chemical name

Chemical formula

Common or alternative name

Source and description

tannic acid



Arts and crafts store in the dyes and fabric section. Some photography stores and drug stores may carry it.

tartaric acid


wine preservative

Sold in wine-making supply stores and sometimes in the grocery store.




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.



disappearing ink

It is the blue disappearing ink available at magic supply stores.

titanium dioxide


Titanium White

Available as a fine powder for use as a pure white pigment from fine art supply stores.

1,1,1 trichloroethane


cleaning fluid, degreaser

hardware store

1,1,1,2 tetrafluoroethane



Most "canned air" products contain this gas under pressure. Read the labels as some contain other solvents.




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.



Methylbenzene, cellulose thinner

Available from most hardware stores as a solvent.

town gas

A mixture mainly consists of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and methane


Available from households in urban area. Toxic and explosive. The carbon monoxide can be removed from the mixture by passing the gas through large quantity of citrated chicken blood.

List of commonly available chemicals





Available as a fairly pure aerosol from hardware and auto supply stores. Brand names include "Lectra Clean" and "Trouble Free Rust Buster".



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.


Available at hardware stores and fine art supply stores.



ice melter, fertilizer Available at some hardware stores and at garden supply stores. "Bonide Azalea" fertilizer is 99% urea.



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.




Available at hardware stores, paint stores, and fine art supply stores.




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.

zinc chloride

ZnClf + 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.

zinc oxide



Found in opaque sunscreens for its UV opacity. "Chinese White" fine arts pigment is very pure.

zinc sulfate


zinc sulfate

"Moss Killer" for use on roofs and concrete. (Moss killer for grass lawns is Ferrous Ammonium Sulfate.)

References [1] [2] [3] [4]

Household Products Index (http:/ / householdproducts. nlm. nih. gov/ ), http:/ / www. walmart. com/ catalog/ product. do?product_id=11047134 http:/ / www. justice. gov/ ndic/ pubs1/ 1467/ index. htm http:/ / www. youtube. com/ watch?v=ynJrU2sVedQ

Article Sources and Contributors

Article Sources and Contributors List of commonly available chemicals Source:  Contributors: 5cinaa, Adambiswanger1, Adrian J. Hunter, Anomalocaris, Aspects, BD2412, Bgwhite, Blueghost0221, Bryan Turner, C. Ryan Long, CharlotteWebb, Chemistry2011, Chris the speller, Christian75, Clicketyclack, Colonies Chris, CultureDrone, Dana boomer, Dark Silver Crow, Edgar181, Editore99, Element16, Em Mitchell, EvilResident, Flarn2006, Fram, Froofrie, Gadfium, Gibbja, Guroadrunner, Hyperdeath, Icairns, Ig88b, Itub, JJ Harrison, Jake Wartenberg, James Lum K.H., JblSoftware, Jprg1966, Kbdank71, Keeper76, Khatru2, Kurykh, KyleRGiggs, LilHelpa, Lowellian, Lylegordon, Magioladitis, MrRK, Neelix, Nehrams2020, Northamerica1000, Od Mishehu, Pipedreamergrey, Pseudomonas, Reyk, Robina Fox, Rror, Sbmeirow, Shaddack, Shjacks45, Sj, Smartone67010, Smokefoot, Stan J Klimas, Stone, SwisterTwister, Tekmeme, Teravolt, TheSun, Thiseye, ThomasRules, Tommyjb, Toothpick1993, Turkeyphant, Uthbrian, X1987x, Zelchenko, 83 anonymous edits

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List of commonly available chemicals  

This an article for the people who want to find/buy chemicals nearby their homes.

List of commonly available chemicals  

This an article for the people who want to find/buy chemicals nearby their homes.

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