Laboratory reagents can be either bought or synthesized. There are only some safe and convenient compounds to synthesize: most industrial processes involve strong acids, hazardous chemicals, high pressures, expensive catalysts... That's why you'll need to buy most of them. Analysis grade reagents have absurdly high prices, sometimes 10 or 20 times more than "impure" products sold in ordinary shops so here are some tips on where to find cheap reagents and how to save money.
First of all you should locate and visit local supermarkets, farming and gardening suppliers, specialized shops (like paint or
art shops). Then write down where each reagent is sold, compare prices and then decide which is the best deal.
Remember to buy relatively pure (>90%) and cheap items.
Look for chemicals retailers and suppliers and check if they sell in small quantities; remember that their prices are extremely high. After some equipment expenses, some of them may let you take expired chemicals for free as they often gift those to customers. If you get the chance to take something, pick reagents that you know and/or are not dangerous. Nobody wants a kilogram of an unknown carcinogenic organic compound with no use to it.
Try to ask your school for empty containers or bottles: since the official disposal procedures are very expensive, they'll probably give them to you if you prove to be responsible enough.
Don't buy reagents from ebay, as they often are extremely overpriced. If you really need a reagent that can't be synthesized (like potassium ferrocyanide), ask a chem supplier for the smallest quantity available (usually 250g). One reagent that you will need to buy from suppliers is concentrated (35%, 130vol) Hydrogen peroxide (about 7-11EUR/L) as the 3% one sold in supermarkets has nasty stabilizers that will interfere with your activities and is too diluted, with the result that you'll need more than one 250mL bottle.
HOW TO LABEL AND STORE REAGENTS -> Here
WHERE TO FIND METALS -> Here
CHEMICALS OFTEN FOUND IN ORDINARY SHOPS
HOW IS IT CALLED?
WHAT'S HIS FORMULA?
WHERE CAN I FIND IT?
IS IT NECESSARY?
|Potassium permanganate||KMnO4||Analysis/Tech grade, 95%||koi specialized pet shops, survival supply stores||Fundamental|
|Sodium silicate (waterglass)||Na2SiO3||Tech grade, 34%, 99%||hardware stores, drugstores, wood and restoration shops||Fundamental|
|Thymol||C10H14O||Analysis grade, 99%||wood and restoration shops||Superfluous|
|Titanium dioxide (titanium white)||TiO2||Tech grade, 99%||wood and restoration shops, paint stores||Not fundamental|
|Magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts, Epsomite)||MgSO4||Food grade, 99%||Drugstores, pharmacies||Fundamental|
|Toluene||C7H8||Analysis/Tech grade, 99%||wood and restoration shops||Not fundamental|
|Tannic acid (Oak bark tannin)||-||Tech grade, 99%||wood and restoration shops, paint stores||Not fundamental|
|Rochelle salt (sodium and potassium tartarate, Seignette salt)||KNaC4H4O6||Tech grade, 99%||wood and restoration shops, pharmacies||Not fundamental|
|Phosphoric acid||H3PO4||Analysis/Tech grade, 20%, 75%, 85%||wood and restoration shops, industrial cleaning suppliers||Not fundamental|
|Oxalic acid||H2C2O4||Tech grade, 99%||wood and restoration shops||Fundamental|
|Sodium sulfate||Na2SO4||Tech grade, 99%||wood and restoration shops||Fundamental|
|Calcium carbonate (Spanish white, white marble powder)||CaCO3||Tech grade, 99%||wood and restoration shops, paint stores||Fundamental|
|Potassium hydroxide (caustic potash, mild lye for soap-making)||KOH||Analysis/Tech grade, 99%||wood and restoration shops, hardware stores||Fundamental|
|Potassium carbonate (potash)||K2CO3||Analysis/Tech grade, 99%||wood and restoration shops||Fundamental|
|Isopropyl alcohol (white alcohol)||C3H8O||Analysis/Tech grade, 30%, 95%||wood and restoration shops, big supermarkets||Not fundamental|
|Glycerol (glycerine)||C3H8O3||Analysis/Tech grade, 99%||wood and restoration shops||Fundamental|
|Ethyl acetate||C4H8O2||Analysis/Tech grade, 99%||wood and restoration shops||Fundamental|
|EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid)||C10H16N2O8||Analysis grade, 98%||wood and restoration shops||Superfluous|
|Turpentine (oil/spirit of)||-||Analysis/Tech grade, 98%||wood and restoration shops||Superfluous|
|Ammonium bicarbonate||NH4HCO3||Analysis/Tech grade, 98%||wood treating and restoration shops||Not fundamental|
|Formic acid||CH2O2||Analysis/Tech grade, 85%||wood and restoration shops||Not fundamental|
|Monosodium glutamate (MSG)||-||Food grade, 99%||ethnic supermarkets||Superfluous|
|Gum Arabic||-||Food grade, 99%||supermarkets, confectionery shops||Superfluous|
|Glucose (Dextrose, Confectionery sugar)||C6H12O6||Food grade, 99%||supermarkets, confectionery shops||Fundamental|
|Hydrochloric acid (muriatic acid)||HCl||Tech grade, 2%, 32%||supermarkets||Fundamental|
|Sodium carbonate (Soda Ash, Solvay Soda)||Na2CO3||Pure, 99%||supermarkets||Fundamental|
|Sodium bicarbonate||NaHCO3||Food grade, 99%||supermarkets||Fundamental|
|Sodium hydroxide (pipes plunger)||NaOH||Pellets or flakes, 80-99.9%||hardware stores||Fundamental|
|Sodium hypochlorite (bleach)||NaClO||Impure/parfumed, 1.5%, 5%, 15%||supermarkets, hardware stores||Not fundamental|
|Acetone||C3H6O||Pure, 98-99.9%||hardware stores||Fundamental|
|Sodium chloride (table salt)||NaCl||Food grade 99%||supermarkets||Fundamental|
|Water (distilled for ironing)||H2O||Pure, 99.99%||supermarkets||Fundamental|
|Sucrose (table sugar)||C12H22O11||Food grade, 99.99%||supermarkets||Fundamental|
|Copper sulfate||CuSO4||Tech grade, 98-99%||farming/gardening suppliers||Fundamental|
|Sulfur (ventilated sulfur)||S8||Tech grade, 98-99%||farming/gardening suppliers||Fundamental|
|Citric acid||C6H8O7||Food grade, 99.9%||farming/wine making suppliers||Fundamental|
|Ethyl alcohol||CH3CH2OH||Food grade, 90-96%||supermarkets||Fundamental|
|Acetic acid (distilled vinegar or glacial a. acid)||CH3COOH||Food grade, 4%, 6%, 20%, 60%, 80%, 99.5%||supermarkets and wood treating/restoration stores||Fundamental|
|Hydrogen peroxide||H2O2||Pure, 35%||paint stores||Fundamental|
|Ammonium hydroxide (Ammonia)||NH4OH (NH3)||Tech grade, 1.5%, 5%, 23%, 31%||supermarkets, hardware/paint stores||Fundamental|
|Dichlor, Trichlor||DCCA, TCCA||Pure, 99%||gardening/pool product stores||Fundamental|
|Sodium Dichloro(iso)cyanurate||NaDCC||Pure, 99%||gardening/pool product stores||Not fundamental|
|Calcium chloride (dehumidifier refill)||CaCl2||Pure, 99%||supermarkets||Fundamental|
|Sulfuric acid (pipes plunger)||H2SO4||Tech grade, often colored, 98%||hardware stores||Fundamental|
|Potassium nitrate (fertilizer)||KNO3||Tech grade, 90%||farming suppliers||Fundamental|
|Nitric acid||HNO3||Tech grade, 65%||farming suppliers||Fundamental|
|Calcium sulfate (gypsum)||CaSO4||Tech grade, 98%||hardware stores||Not fundamental|
|Iron sulfate (garden moss killer)||FeSO4||Farming grade, with additives, 90%||hardware stores/gardening suppliers||Fundamental|
|Potassium metabisulfite||K2S2O5||Food grade, 99.9%||farming/wine making suppliers||Not fundamental|
|Tartaric acid||C4H6O6||Food grade, 99.9%||farming/wine making suppliers||Not fundamental|
|Tetrachloroethylene||C2Cl4||Pure, 98%||hardware stores||Superfluous|
|Lead (IV) oxide||PbO2||Tech grade, 95%||used lead-acid batteries||Fundamental|
|Paraffin||-||Food grade, 99%||hardware stores/wine making suppliers||Not fundamental|
|Sodium tetraborate (borax)||Na2B4O7||Tech grade, 98%||drugstores, supermarkets||Not fundamental|
|Sodium bisulfate (pool pH lowering agent)||NaHSO4||Tech grade, 99%||gardening/pool product stores||Fundamental|
|Methyl orange (pool pH indicator)||-||Analysis grade, 99%||gardening/pool product stores||Not fundamental|
 Is often sold under the name "Dichlor 56%" or "Quick Chlorine" so it can be mistaken for Dichlor[o(iso)cyanuric acid]. Check the composition: it should contain "Sodium Dichloro(iso)cyanurate" or "Sodium troclosene". If you are in doubt, the CAS number is 2893-78-9 for the anhydrous salt and 51580-86-0 for the dihydrate.
 Sulfuric acid, especially in high concentrations, is a REALLY DANGEROUS substance. I suggest you do not buy and use the colored one sold in hardware stores. Purchase it at a chem supplier if you really need it.
 Buy from farming suppliers (usually 25L/kg tanks) only to synthesize salts, not for experiments requiring high purity.
 Hazardous and unnecessary, it's in the list for completeness.
 Opening lead-acid batteries is extremely hazardous for your health. If you are really determined to do so, use a respirator mask and gloves. Be careful not to let any lead compound on your skin.
REAGENTS SOLD ONLY BY CHEM SUPPLIERS
HOW IS IT CALLED?
WHAT'S HIS FORMULA?
IS IT NECESSARY?
|Phenolphthalein (pH indicator)||phph, Hln||Analysis, 1%||Fundamental|
|Potassium iodide||KI||Analysis grade, 99%||Fundamental|
|Iron (II) hexacyanoferrate (potassium ferrocyanide)||K4[Fe(CN)6]||Analysis grade, 99%||Not fundamental|
|Iron (III) hexacyanoferrate (potassium ferricyanide)||K3[Fe(CN)6]||Analysis grade, 99%||Fundamental|