10:29 - Barbara’s dad may or may not be released from the hospital today. They’d planned to leave tomorrow for the family reunion in Pennsylvania, but they may have to delay their departure until Friday. He’s feeling much better, which isn’t surprising since he’s on heavy antibiotics. In addition to the pneumonia and UTI, Barbara told me yesterday that they’d mentioned that he has an S. aureus blood infection. I would imagine that they’re treating him with bacteriostatic antibiotics and are concerned that the infection(s) will come roaring back once they take him off the antibiotics.
When Barbara arrived home yesterday, she immediately asked what the terrible smell was. I’d gotten several deliveries yesterday, which were still stacked in the foyer. I’d noticed a slight musty/rancid smell but I wasn’t able to localize it. When Barbara walked into the foyer, she immediately narrowed it down to a box that contained three one-pound bags of sodium dithionite, which is a chemical that will go into the forensics kits. It’s a bleach used in fabric dyeing. The MSDS says that it has a “characteristic slight sulfurous odor”. According to Barbara, it’s anything but slight. She may be right, because those bags were heat-sealed aluminized plastic, and some odor was still able to escape.
I told her we’d be packing 25 g of the stuff in 30 mL widemouth bottles, and she immediately replied, “*You’ll* be packing…”. When I told her that in addition to the odor problem, the chemical was spontaneously combustible if exposed to air or water, she said there was no way she was going to touch it.
Speaking of hazardous chemicals (and sodium dithionite is classified as only slightly hazardous), I’m always looking for ways to eliminate shipping hazards while maintaining functionality. One of the chemicals I’d like to ship in a kit I’m designing now is universal indicator solution, which is very flammable. For some other chemicals I can get around that problem by shipping a bottle that contains only a tiny amount of the dry chemical. The kit buyer can then simply fill the bottle with, for example, drugstore isopropanol to dissolve the chemical and make up the actual solution.
The problem with universal indicator is that it contains four indicator chemicals in really tiny quantities, as in 0.03% w/v. That means that for a 15 mL bottle I’d need somehow to put more or less exactly 4.5 mg each of bromothymol blue, methyl red, phenolphthalein, and thymol blue powders in each bottle. That’s obviously impractical, but I have a cunning plan, which I intend to test when I have a moment. Rather than mess with the dry chemicals on a per-bottle basis, I’ll simply make up the actual solution, fill each bottle with 15 mL of it, and then heat the bottles at low heat in the convection oven in my lab until all of the liquid evaporates. I’ll then allow the bottles to cool, cap them, and ship them with the kits. And people wonder why my wife calls me Baldrick.