Monday, 14 July 2014

07:42 – I’m giving up on refillable butane lighters. Pipe smokers are hard on lighters. Years ago, I used special butane pipe lighters. None of those lasted very long, including expensive brands like Dunhill and Kolibri, so I ended up switching to cheap refillable Ronson refillables. Those come in packs of three for about a buck apiece, when you can find them. I’ve been using the Ronson lighters for 10 or 15 years. Years ago, they lasted longer than the new models do. A few would fail in a day or two, but most lasted a couple weeks to a month, and some several months. Recent examples seldom last more than a week and often fail in a day or two.

So yesterday I finally decided just to order a traditional Zippo lighter from Amazon, with spare flints and wicks and a can of lighter fluid. Zippos are famous for their durability and for lighting first time, every time. I’ll see how that goes.

Barbara got a lot done over the weekend. Among other things, she made up 150 bottles each of sodium bicarbonate tablets and magnesium sulfate and 72 bottles of sodium dithionite, all of which we were completely out of. With a few exceptions (which are currently on the to-be-done list), that means we now have bottled chemicals sufficient for 150 more chemistry kits, 60 more biology kits, and 60 more forensics kits. We need to get all of those binned and bagged, and then start on more.

12:52 – Pure FD&C dyes (food coloring dyes) are surprisingly hard to find. Even Fisher Scientific and other specialty chemical vendors don’t carry them. For the AP chemistry kit, I want to include 2.5 mL vials of 0.5% aqueous FD&C Blue #1, Red #40, and Yellow #5 solutions. In other words, I need 5 grams of dye to make 1 liter of solution, which is about 200 kits worth. So I planned to order 25 g or so of each dye. That turns out not to be easy. I just found a source for all three dyes on eBay. That’s unusual in itself. Most of the FD&C stuff on eBay (and elsewhere) is in the form of lakes (precipitated dyes), which do me no good. But I found one eBay source that actually knows the difference between dyes and lakes, and had 5 pounds of FD&C Blue #1 dye for $500. When I checked their web site, I found they also had Red #40 and Yellow #5 dyes, also in 5-pound packages. So I emailed them and asked if they’d sell in 25 g or 50 g quantities. Unfortunately, they won’t, so I’m back to square one.