Common chemicals

Table of common chemical ingredients and where to find them

Chemical name Chemical formula Common name Where to buy Specific brand or product
Acetic acid
CH3COOH + H2O 5% Solution: White vinegar Supermarket Any brand of white vinegar
Notes: In supermarkets, acetic acid is available in concentrations up to 31%.
CH3COCH3 Nail polish remover
Paint remover
Discount store Onyx, Cutex
Notes: While composition varies from product to product, paint removers will contain more acetone per volume than regular nail polish remover, and industrial grade (rather than consumer grade) paint removers used by professionals and sold in bulk will contain more acetone still. Some stores sell pure acetone as well.[1]
Ammonium carbonate
(NH4)2CO3 Bakers ammonia drugstores None
Notes: Baker's ammonia can be found in drugstores.
Ammonium hydroxide
NH4OH 10% Solution: Household ammonia
27% Solution: Strong ammonia
Supermarket (for household ammonia)
Drug store (for strong ammonia)
Notes: Combine household ammonia and strong ammonia with water.
Boric acid
H3BO3 Boric acid Drug store None
Notes: Often sold as a roach killer
Calcium carbonate
CaCO3 Chunks: Marble, limestone
Powder: Precipitated chalk
Builder's supplies (for chunk)
Drug store (for powder)
Calcium chloride
CaCl2 Laundry aid
Laundry salt
Road salt
Hardware store
Notes: Many chemicals are used to melt snow. Make certain that if you purchase road salt it is pure calcium chloride.
Calcium hydroxide
Ca(OH)2 Slaked lime, garden lime Gardening Department None
Notes: Used to reduce the acidity of soil.
Calcium oxide
CaO Quicklime Builder's supplies None
Calcium sulfate
(CaSO4) * H2O
CaSO4 * 2H2O
Plaster of Paris or
Hardware store None
Copper(II) sulfate
CuSO4 Blue Vitrol
Cupric Sulfate
Hardware Store Zep Root Kill, Rooto Root Kill
Notes: Sold at Home Depot as Zep Root Kill or at Ace Hardware as Rooto Root Kill. Reacting the Copper II Sulfate dissolved in water with Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) will produce Copper Carbonate and CO2.
C6H12O6 + H2O Corn syrup Supermarket None
Notes: Glucose is a monosaccharide that, as a sweetener, is commonly found as a syrup. It is generally produced from corn starch.
Hydrochloric acid
HCl + H2O 25% Solution: Muriatic acid Hardware store The Works
Notes: Commonly used to bleach concrete. Found in high concentrations in silverware cleaning solutions. It is also less frequently found in high concentrations in drain cleaners such as the works, however, drain cleaners also contain detergents which can introduce destabilizing impurities to chemical compounds.
Hydrofluoric acid
HF + H2O Automotive store Aluminum brightener & tire cleaner
Notes: Best known for its ability to dissolve glass. Found in high concentrations in commercial tire cleaning solutions. Professional grade tire cleaning solutions, such as those bought in bulk by car dealerships, are typically more concentrated than consumer grade products. Must be stored in polyethylene or Teflon containers, and is very hazardous.
Magnesium sulfate
MgSO4 *7H2O Epsom salts Drug store None
Manganese dioxide
MnO2 Pyrolusite Hardware stores None
Notes: Pyrolusite can be extracted from certain types of batteries, called dry cells, but its use is becoming rare.
C10H8 Mothballs Hardware store None
Notes: Mothballs may also be made of (para)dichlorobenzene.
Oxalic acid
H2C2O4 + 2H2O Non-chlorine bleach powder cleanser Grocery, hardware, and large discount stores Bar Keepers Friend
Potassium nitrate
KNO3 Saltpeter, saltpetre Hardware store, garden center, supermarket Grants stump remover
Notes: Potassium nitrate is used as stump remover, fertilizer, and meat preservative.
Potassium sodium tartrate
NaKC4H4O6 * 4H2O Rochelle salt Drug store None
Sodium bicarbonate
NaHCO3 Baking soda, bicarbonate of soda Supermarket Arm & Hammer
Notes: Be careful to use only single action baking soda when sodium bicarbonate is required. 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' which is a gas formed at room temperature when moistened, and corn starch, which is added as a drying agent to prevent accidental activation.
Sodium carbonate
Na2CO3 Washing Soda Supermarket Arm & Hammer
Sodium chloride
NaCl Salt, table salt Supermarket None
Notes: Canning or pickling salts tend not to have iodine added, so are more pure.
Sodium hydroxide
NaOH Lye, caustic soda Hardware Store Drano, Rooto Drain Opener(100% Pure)
Notes: Keep out of eyes, can cause blindness.
Sodium tetraborate
Na2B4O7 * 10H2O Borax Drug stores, supermarket None
C12H22O11 Table sugar Supermarket None
Notes: Sucrose is the name for table sugar, which is made from sugar beets and sugarcane.
Sulfuric acid
H2SO4 Sulfuric acid, vitriol Hardware store Pro Liquid Drain Cleaner
Notes: This is a very difficult chemical to find in concentrated form at a hardware store. Most chemistry experiments or processes require the use of sulfuric acid in concentrations above 85% for optimum results. Car batteries contain only 40% concentration, and depending on state of charge can contain large amounts of lead sulfate. Battery acid can easily be concentrated due to the much higher boiling point of the acid.
Zinc chloride
ZnClf + H2O Tinner's Fluid Hardware store None
Notes: Also called "killed acid," zinc chloride can be created by dissolving a small amount of zinc in hydrochloric acid. Used for cleaning copper.


The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments

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